Travels in Reality and Hyper-Reality

Book Review: Berlin – A Literary Guide for Travellers, by Paul Sullivan and Marcel Krueger
I picked this up last year in a work book sale. It’s a fairly short tour through the districts of Berlin, blending history and architecture with literature and writing, both historical and contemporary. Unsurprisingly, the chapters I found most interesting were the areas of which I’m most familiar, either from visiting Berlin on holiday or from general history: Mitte, Alexanderplatz, Charlottenburg, Wannsee, and (almost) Potsdam (at least to the Glienicke Brücke). In particular, the chapter on Mitte devotes a lot of space to the Stadtschloss, currently under reconstruction following the demolition some years ago of the DDR Palast von der Republik that occupied its space. Being honest, the chapters on the seedier areas of Berlin don’t give it much appeal, but it’s interesting to note the cosmopolitan nature of the city, with its former heavy industrial areas having a long history as a transit zone for migrants, from early urbanisation through to the post-war Gästarbeiter. The book covers a range of writers, a few from earlier times but mostly twentieth century, including Alfred Döblin, Christopher Isherwood, Len Deighton and John le Carré.

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