Monday, September 11, 2023

Review of Berlin by Jason Lutes

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Book Club Event = Book List (11/18/2023)

Watch Short Review


Is This An Overview?

This is a graphic novel about a changing Berlin.  How the city changes the people, and how the people change the city.  A decade after World War One, the people are struggling, but managing to get by.   Different social groups are claiming to want to help the people, and do help those that support them.  But each group is attached to political power, that persecutes those who support other groups.  Using violent means, that escalates violence.  Sometimes purposefully instigating violence, to show how effectively a group can create order to use as propaganda.  People join the groups because of their claims, to better their lives, but often do not know the hidden political agendas that threaten them.  There are also those who want to maintain neutrality, those who seek to understand what is happening and seek to expose corruption.  They are often silenced.  As persecution escalates, people leave the city.  Families are broken up. 

The story is told from diverse perspectives, and how the diverse characters interact.  Representative of Berlin’s diverse culture and vibrant communities.  Showing the gradual changes that turned a diverse and tolerant city into a city of repression.  Showing how decent people can be turned, and join groups that are against their own interests.  A story containing philosophy, politics, and various ways to treat others.  Showing the hidden and public ways how people respond differently to social situations. 



As a graphic novel, the images can sometimes be confusing, and some writing hard to decipher.  There are also images inappropriate for younger audiences.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•How does Berlin change?
•How do the Berlin people change?
•How do the people change Berlin?
•What social circumstances are Berlin people living through? 
•What are the different social groups and how do they attract people?
•What were the claims and efforts of the National Socialist party (Nazi)?
•What were the claims and efforts of the Soviets?
•Why does violence escalate? 
•What cultures and communities are represented in the book?  
•What impact did Karl Marx have on Germany?
•What impact did Rosa Luxemburg have?  
•Why is Marthe Müller going to Berlin?  Why does Marthe stay in Berlin?  Why does Marthe leave Berlin?
•What does Kurt Severing do?
•What are Severing’s political views?
•What does Carl von Ossietzky do?
•Who is Anna Lencke?
•How does Berthold Schwartz treat others?
•What does Margarethe von Falkensee want?
•Why does Gudrun Braun join a movement? 
•How does Silvia Bruan survive after the death of Silvia’s mother?
•What do the Cocoa Kids do in Berlin? 
•How historically representative is the book? 

Book Details
Edition:                First Paperback Edition
Publisher:             Drawn & Quarterly [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]
Edition ISBN:      9781770464063
Pages to read:       555
Publication:          2020
1st Edition:           2018
Format:                 Paperback 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall          5