Though it feels like recent memory, the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago on November 9, 1989. Since that momentous dismantling, the city has undergone tremendous transformation. And yet, despite the changes, the past remains an important part of experiencing Berlin today; the city's haunting history as much as its vibrant present lures visitors. As Rory MacLean puts it in the prologue to Berlin, Portrait of a City Through the Centuries, "Berlin is a city that is forever in the process of becoming, never being, and so lives more powerfully in the imagination...The hypnotic and volatile city comes alive in the mind." Several new book on Berlin celebrate that volatile presence as well as memorialize the city's checkered past.
Berlin, A City for the Future. Drawing comparisons to a phoenix rising from the ashes of WWII, Berlin has redefined itself as a creative hub, attracting artists and intellectuals and prioritizing modern architecture and art installations while paying homage to its Brandenburg heritage with a renewed focus on public parks and gardens. This well-designed large format book celebrates that transformation through full-color photos that explore one of history's most complex cities. (GER318, $40.00)
Roads to Berlin. Blending reportage, history and memoir, Cees Nooteboom's ode to Berlin captures the German national character and the unique intensity of the German capital. Beautifully translated from the original Dutch, Nooteboom's writing interweaves politics, architecture and culture while the author deftly maintains his outsider's objectivity. Nooteboom is the recipient of an Anne Frank Prize, a Goethe Prize and has been a frontrunner for a Nobel Prize in Literature. (GER341, $17.99)
Berlin, Portrait of a City Through the Centuries. This beautifully observed portrait of Berlin explores how centuries of constant flux have shaped the city and its inhabitants. Infusing past with present, MacLean relates the city's volatile history over five centuries through a series of intimate portraits of two dozen key residents: from Berlin's charismatic dictators to its iconic mythmakers. (GER334, $27.99)
The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin. You can't keep a good thief down . . . Charlie Howard is back and robbing the city of Berlin blind, until he witnesses a murder being committed right before his eyes in this fifth book in the clever series. (GER305, $16.99)
Berlin Now, The City After the Wall. This bright, bold and digressive history of Berlin was penned by a longtime Berliner and translated by an American expat. Taking us far beneath the city's veneer, Schneider focuses especially on the differences between East and West Berlin and how the legacy of the Berlin Wall continues to shape the vibrant metropolis. (GER311, $27.00)
The Collapse, The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall. In one of the most surprising books on the Cold War, Sarotte, a Harvard Professor, claims that the Berlin Wall's collapse was anything but inevitable. In fact, she argues, its main causes were non-violent and accidental. Sarotte captures the fear, confusion, courage and excitement that were growing in Berlin in 1989 while chronicling the miscues and botched statements by USSR officials that made the collapse possible. (GER345, $28.99)
Wall. Based on a true story and filled with powerful artwork, this picture book tells the story of a family split on each side of the Berlin Wall and determined to reunite by any means necessary. An emotional tale of triumph over adversity. (GER338, $16.99)