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Burning Down the Haus : Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
by Tim Mohr


Overview - NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Rolling Stone * BookPage * Amazon * Rough Trade
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

" A] riveting and inspiring history of punk's hard-fought struggle in East Germany." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A thrilling and essential social history that details the rebellious youth movement that helped change the world." -- Rolling Stone

"Original and inspiring .
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More About Burning Down the Haus by Tim Mohr
 
 
 
Overview
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Rolling Stone * BookPage * Amazon * Rough Trade
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

" A] riveting and inspiring history of punk's hard-fought struggle in East Germany." --The New York Times Book Review

"A thrilling and essential social history that details the rebellious youth movement that helped change the world." --Rolling Stone

"Original and inspiring . . . Mr. Mohr has writ-ten an im-por-tant work of Cold War cul-tural his-tory."
--The Wall Street Journal

"Wildly entertaining . . . A thrilling tale . . . A joy in the way it brings back punk's fury and high stakes."
--Vogue

It began with a handful of East Berlin teens who heard the Sex Pistols on a British military radio broadcast to troops in West Berlin, and it ended with the collapse of the East German dictatorship. Punk rock was a life-changing discovery. The buzz-saw guitars, the messed-up clothing and hair, the rejection of society and the DIY approach to building a new one: in their gray surroundings, where everyone's future was preordained by some communist apparatchik, punk represented a revolutionary philosophy--quite literally, as it turned out.

But as these young kids tried to form bands and became more visible, security forces--including the dreaded secret police, the Stasi--targeted them. They were spied on by friends and even members of their own families; they were expelled from schools and fired from jobs; they were beaten by police and imprisoned. Instead of conforming, the punks fought back, playing an indispensable role in the underground movements that helped bring down the Berlin Wall.

This secret history of East German punk rock is not just about the music; it is a story of extraordinary bravery in the face of one of the most oppressive regimes in history. Rollicking, cinematic, deeply researched, highly readable, and thrillingly topical, Burning Down the Haus brings to life the young men and women who successfully fought authoritarianism three chords at a time--and is a fiery testament to the irrepressible spirit of revolution.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781616208431
  • ISBN-10: 1616208430
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Publish Date: September 2018
  • Page Count: 384
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Europe - Germany
Books > Music > Genres & Styles - Punk
Books > Music > History & Criticism - General

 
BookPage Reviews

Resisting tyranny is very punk rock

In the early 1980s, hardcore punk offered alienated American teenagers a chance to find each other through its network of scenes, shows and zines. It offered a crucial lifeline for kids who were coming out of abusive homes, suffering bullying at schools or simply resisting Reagan-era conservatism.

But Americans had nothing on the East German punks, as Tim Mohr brilliantly documents in his incendiary Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

As early as 1977, kids throughout East Germany heard the siren call of the Sex Pistols by tuning into banned West German radio stations. By 1981, a nascent punk scene began forming in church basements and town squares. But the consequences of looking like a punk or forming a band were dangerous. Getting hauled in by the Stasi—the East German secret police—for brutal interrogations became a daily or weekly occurrence for punks. Studios and squats were routinely searched, and being surveilled by informers was a fact of life. By 1983—the “Summer of Punk”—many of the original punks were serving prison sentences. But the flame was lit, and the torch was carried on by hundreds of kids who formed bands, squatted buildings and spoke out against the state.

Compulsively readable and beautifully researched, Burning Down the Haus records the critical role that punks played in the German resistance movements of the 1980s, up to and beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. As a DJ in Berlin in the early 1990s, Mohr met and became friends with many of the individuals portrayed in this book, thus giving him access to the photos, diaries and oral histories that give the book such rich, cinematic detail.

“We could do things differently here,” East German punks said, and it was a pronouncement they acted on. Their story of resistance to dictatorship is an inspiring lesson for today.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews