What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-33 by Joseph Roth
In 1920, Joseph Roth, the most renowned German correspondent of his age, arrived in Berlin, the capital of the Weimar Republic. He produced a series of impressionistic and political writings that influenced an entire generation of writers, including Thomas Mann and the young Christopher Isherwood. Translated and collected here, these pieces record the violent social and political paroxysms that constantly threatened to undo the fragile democracy that was the Weimar Republic. Roth, like no other German writer of his time, ventured beyond Berlin's offical veneer to the heart of the city, chronicling the lives of its forgotten inhabitants - the war cripples, the Jewish immigrants, the criminals, the bathhouse denizens and the nameless dead who filled the morgues - as well as more whimsical aspects of the city - the public parks and the burgeoning entertainment industry. Warning early on of the threat posed by the Nazis, Roth evoked a landscape of moral bankruptcy and debauched beauty, creating in the process a memorable portrait of a city.