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

10 CDs. HighBridge Audio. Sept. 2018. 12 hrs. ISBN 9781684414642. $39.99. MUSIC
The Berlin Wall was difficult to cross physically, but some West Berlin radio signals got through. Starting in the late 1970s, East Berlin youths started hearing a new form of music—punk—played by Western bands such as the Sex Pistols. In a strictly regimented society such as East Germany, the kids inspired by this new music and the radical style that went with it represented a baffling and threatening form of social nonconformity. Mohr's book (originally published last year in German) chronicles the revolutionary movement that grew up around the East German punk—a movement pushed more and more into direct antigovernment action by the activities of the state itself, as punks were targeted by police spies, arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned for simply expressing anti-authoritarian points of view. Mohr highlights the unique elements of the East German punk scene compared to the more familiar American and British narratives: a recurring theme is how, in contrast to the Sex Pistols' "No Future" slogan, punks felt oppressed by "too much future" in East Germany's overplanned society that offered youths no say in their mandated lives. A surprising element to the story is the unexpected alliance between the Lutheran church and the punk movement, as the church's "open work" missionary outreach efforts provided punk activists with sanctuaries to meet and organize as antigovernment efforts grew closer to a boiling point. British narrator Matthew Lloyd Davies's reading is personal, warm, and passionate as he reads a story full of individual threads and snippets of oral history.
VERDICT Readers of punk histories like Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me and John Doe's Under the Big Black Sun will find this title an exciting new perspective of Eastern bloc punk during the Cold War. ["Mohr pens an inspiring history of a punk scene that literally tore down a symbol of division and oppression. An excellent companion to Paul Hockenos's Berlin Calling": LJ 8/18 review of the Alginquin hc.]

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