Cover: The Turbulent World of Franz Göll: An Ordinary Berliner Writes the Twentieth Century, from Harvard University PressCover: The Turbulent World of Franz Göll in HARDCOVER

The Turbulent World of Franz Göll

An Ordinary Berliner Writes the Twentieth Century

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$41.00 • £35.95 • €37.95

ISBN 9780674055315

Publication Date: 03/21/2011


288 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

25 halftones


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Instructive and fitfully absorbing… Readers…will be fascinated by the strange private world of an eccentric obsessive.—Ian Brunskill, The Wall Street Journal

A fascinating glimpse beneath the historical wave… Göll’s diary is an amazing artifact in itself: in hundreds of plain, hand-written notebooks (now stored in a Berlin archive), it stretches from the era of Kaiser Wilhelm II to the age of Ronald Reagan. Göll lives through the aftermath of World War I, attends the Nazis’ ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibit in 1938, survives the bombing of Berlin during the Second World War, reflects on the rise of the nuclear age, and tries out, well into his fifties, the sexual revolution. All the while he works on his aquarium, travels around Germany, and reads widely and ravenously… Fritzsche helpfully summarizes and explains the diaries, putting them in a broader context and isolating the major themes; he reflects, too, on the very modern project of writing a diary.—Josh Rothman, The Boston Globe online

This is a perceptive analysis of a 20th-century individual who cherished his perceived difference and who was at the same time representative of the masses, for better or worse.—Ulrike Zitzlsperger, Times Higher Education

Fritzsche’s astounding book opens our eyes, once again, to the disappointing sight of an ordinary human being. And an ordinary human being is just that: ordinary.—Susanne Klingenstein, The Weekly Standard

In a time when public self-disclosure and blogging seem almost de rigueur, examining the diaries kept by a German everyman for the better part of the 20th century is both curious and refreshing… Though Fritzsche doesn’t present extensive English translations of Göll’s writings (the originals were impossibly voluminous), the quotations he includes are superb and include many of Göll’s poems. He meticulously contextualizes them, convincingly argues the noteworthiness of their rediscovery, and reveals them as subjective attempts to fashion coherence out of increasingly violent times… They are also a sobering record of modern life’s impact. Göll’s diaries, begun in 1916, when he was 17, and continued until his death in 1984, offer an invaluable and absorbing look at the preoccupations of a turbulent century.Publishers Weekly

The account Fritzsche weaves out of Göll’s idiosyncratic yet strangely representative diaries makes for fascinating, exciting reading. There are wonderful nuggets throughout, such as Göll’s thoughtful reaction after seeing a pro-euthanasia film in 1941—the only such account by an actual member of the German public of which I am aware—and Göll’s response to the notorious Nazi ‘degenerate art’ exhibition in 1937. This compelling book is for anyone who wants to view history from a more personal level.—Stephen Brockmann, Carnegie Mellon University

An extraordinary portrait of an ordinary twentieth-century Berliner’s life. As an accomplished historian and a fine writer, Fritzsche uncovers the multiple resonances in Göll’s political, social, and intellectual worlds. His deft and systematic handling of the intensely self-reflective Göll is quite simply fascinating.—Konrad H. Jarausch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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