Berlin Calling

A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin

An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, the occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the Wall

“Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” —David Bowie

Berlin Calling is a never-before-told account of the Berlin Wall’s momentous crash, seen through the eyes of the divided city’s street artists and punk rockers, impresarios and underground agitators. Berlin-based writer Paul Hockenos offers us an original chronicle of 1989’s “peaceful revolution,” which upended communism in East Germany, and the wild, permissive years of artistic ferment and pirate utopias that followed when protest and idealism, techno clubs and sprawling squats were the order of the day.

This is a story stocked with larger-than-life characters from Berlin’s highly political subcultures—including David Bowie and Iggy Pop, the internationally known French Wall artist Thierry Noir, cult figure Blixa Bargeld of the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, and a clandestine cell of East Berlin anarchists. Hockenos argues that the do-it-yourself energy and raw urban vibe of the early 1990s shaped the new Berlin and still pulses through the city today.


Berlin Calling is an invaluable history of the divided and then reunified city. West Berlin, with its bars that never closed and hard narcotics practically on tap, beckoned and inspired Bowie, Iggy, Brian Eno, and Nick Cave. An untold tale until now is that of the punks, anarchists, dissidents and yes, even neo-Nazis, who rebelled against totalitarian rule in the east. I know of no other book that tells their story. Hockenos has made a vital contribution to the cultural history of post-WWII Europe. A must-read.”
—Gillian McCain, co-author of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
“An extraordinarily gripping insider’s guide to the past and present of this unique, shape-shifting city. Berlin Calling also offers savvy hints as to its intriguing possible futures. This is the book every Berlin aficionado needs to own.”
—Frederick Taylor, author of The Berlin Wall
“No city has seen more tumult and disruption in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries than Berlin. Paul Hockenos takes a deep insider’s look at the cultural forces that have transformed and are transforming Berlin, and act on creative cities, for better and for worse, across the world. A must-read for anyone who is interested in the challenges posed by the reurbanization and gentrification of the world’s great cities.”
—Richard Florida, University of Toronto, author of Rise of the Creative Class
“Can unruly artists change the world? Or do they just provide the soundtrack to history? The Berlin of the 1980s is famous for two things: a wild counterculture and the surprising end of the Cold War. Paul Hockenos, who knows the city inside out, brings them together in a fast-paced, sometimes astonishing story of underground clubs, squatters, and dissidents.”
—Brian Ladd, author of The Ghosts of Berlin

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