NEWS: A new book of literary non-fiction, My Grandfather’s Knife, will be published by HarperCollins and The History Press in April 2022! More information to follow…

 

Berlin

London: Reaktion Books (University of Chicago Press, distr.), 2017.

Berlin is a party in a graveyard. It is Europe’s youth capital, and its guilty war conscience. It is a disputed construction site, built on the ruins of regimes. Today’s diversity – refugees, immigrants, arty expats, East and West – emerges from a history of violence. Berlin is as cutting-edge and contemporary as it is wary of its extreme past.

Berlin is a comprehensive short history and portrait of the German capital today. The story of Berlin’s vagaries over nine centuries – from a dry place in a bog to the control centre of modern Europe – is expertly portrayed by historian Joseph Pearson. The dynamic present is a palimpsest on this unsettling past. A long-time flâneur of Berlin’s streets, Pearson explores how the city’s history is visible today in bombsites, museums and industrial club spaces (and a lake hosting a man-nibbling monster).

In this book, we find that elements of the city that for some can be unnerving – its emptiness, its provincialism, its ramshackle industrial eclecticism, its sexual freedoms, its confrontation with a murderous past – are precisely what give the city its charge. Pearson poses provocative questions as he reveals the city’s many layers and varied neighbourhoods. He argues, ultimately, that Berlin’s centrality in European and cultural affairs is only just beginning to be felt.

‘An exhilarating account of Berlin as an angst-ridden, yet explosively creative city through historical analyses and personal anecdotes. . . . Passionately researched and finely written. . . . Cultural studies scholars will appreciate discovering previously marginalized historical figures and artifacts, students and everyday readers will gain fascinating insights into the cultural history of one of the world’s greatest  metropolises, and aesthetic practitioners will find renewed inspiration in the transformative power of the arts’. –German Studies Review
‘Historian and Berlin blogger Joseph Pearson’s guide is the last word in explaining not only Berlin’s incredible history, but also its present day cultural situation. The stunning photographs, both period and contemporary, are some of the best we’ve seen’. 
–The Independent
‘For the travelers, artists, flaneurs, coders and students fascinated by Berlin, the historian Joseph Pearson masterfully offers a close reading of the metropolis in all its brutal immediacy. Berlin is an exploration of the German capital as it should be, drawing us into the teeming, tumbling life of its streets, clubs and Kieze as well as the dark recesses of the city’s scarred history’. –Patrick Donahue, political correspondent for Bloomberg News in Berlin

 

Translation of book on industrial designer, Enzo Mari (from Italian to English):

Obrist, Hans Ulrich (trans. Joseph Pearson), Enzo Mari: The Conversations Series. Cologne, Walther König, 2009.