The New Press: 2017. Order here
Berlin Calling is a never-before-told account of the Berlin Wall’s momentous crash, narrated through the divided city’s street artists and punk rockers, impresarios and underground agitators. Paul Hockenos, who lived in Berlin during these exciting times, offers us an original chronicle of 1989’s “peaceful revolution,” which upended communism in East Germany, and the permissive post-Wall years of artistic ferment and pirate utopias, when protest and idealism, subaltern techno clubs and sprawling squats were the order of the day.
New York Times Book Review, June 6, 2017
“…fascinating… Paul Hockenos has written a detailed, doggedly researched, personally involved history of Berlin’s political and musical underground over the last 50 years. “Berlin Calling” should be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the German capital’s still-hip music and street politics, and to get a flavor of that turbulent city’s dark history and stubborn spirit.”
Booklist, April 10, 2017. Starred review by Emily Dziuban
“Hockenos uses music as the lens through which to understand the subcultures, countercultures, evolutions, and devolutions that echoed through a West Berlin isolated by a wall whose first iteration was barbed wire and guards and whose final iteration was the “world’s biggest art gallery.” Hockenos bore witness to punk rock’s egalitarian dissonance, political and anarchistic in its assertion that everyone could make punk. …. Now, Hockenos sees a current Berlin that thrives while remembering its bohemian roots.”
Library Journal, April 15, 2017. Starred review by David Keymer
In 1985, Hockenos, philosopher in training, stepped off a train in West Berlin with only his savings and works by German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in his duffel. … When the Wall fell in 1989, the subsidies that had bought the time and space to experiment with new social and artistic arrangements ended. Hockenos’s insightful book captures the history of that subculture. A flood of oversized personalities cross the scene, including musician David Bowie and his transgender muse Romy Haag, industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, charismatic anarchist Silvio Meier, and Warhol-inspired artist Thierry Noir. This wide-ranging book will appeal to everyone from music devotees to history scholars. In addition to looking at history from a different perspective, Hockenos illustrates this work with photos and posters that stimulate the mind and delight the eye.
“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
“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
“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
“Hockenos’ secret history is knowing but never cynical, wry but serious, and effortlessly (though never casually) erudite. 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, historian, author of The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989