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Berlin: City of Stones: Book One (Part 1) Paperback – June 1, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
Book 1 of 10 in the Berlin Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; 1st edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1896597297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896597294
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jason Lutes has given himself a formidable task: Not only is he seeking to chronicle a hazily-understood period of German history for his American audience...the latter years of the Weimer Republic, when the nascent Democratic experiment was being torn asunder by the Communists on the Left and the National Socialists from the Right...but he is also doing it slowly, methodically, rather than in the slam-bang style most common to comic books. What one might have expected to be an event-driven adventure story is actually a series of thoughtful human interest pieces.
Each chapter unfolds gracefully, linking easily with the next, although each one stands well on its own, without having to rely too heavily on the others in order to be comprehended. The art style isn't "cartoony" by any means...Lutes is a shrewd observer of the human form, and his figures reflect his keen eye. He's also a tireless researcher, and you can rest assured that when he draws an automobile, or a cocktail dress, or a phonograph player, it's appropriate to the time and place. Artistic drama is heightened by his clever use of inking; indeed, his employment of sheer black compares favorably to that of Milton Caniff, although in more subtle ways. It's worth noting that Lutes seems to prefer dealing in strict black and white; there are no zip-a-tone grays here.
But what makes "BERLIN: BOOK ONE" so compelling is the writing. Lutes has created a handful of characters whom we follow chapter after chapter; sometimes, their lives intersect, but in other instances they never meet with one another. Some are Bolsheviks, some are Nazis, some are just survivors in the rapidly shrinking middle.
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Format: Paperback
The Weimar presents a set of profound issues for an artist or historian to grapple with. Lutes has done a more than admirable job beginning a graphic narrative that does justice to the myriad issues the period dileneates for contemporray readers. He has a point of view, an ability to transmit nuance, complication and contradiction, some compelling characters, a drawing style that to my eye pays some homage to Masereel while taking a more realist turn and big ambitions. The problem here is that we only have 1/3 (now some new chapters have been produced) of a much larger work. It's hard to judge just how successful this project will be with only one third of the story arc completed. I for one appreciate anyone who grapples with the set of questions Lutes is engaged with here and think he's off to a fascinating start but it is kind of like judging an entire play by its first act. We can get swept up in the action in the first act, but at the first intermission we can only hold out hope the rest of the play rewards the promise we just had take a hold of us. It could be a classic or a disapointment. I eagerly await the answer to that.
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Format: Paperback
This is a graphic novel for people who like to think -- a complexly connected set of stories that move together in productive, thoughtful ways. Lutes takes full advantage of his spare, generous style of drawing in the creation of this graphic novel ... once you read it, you'll be dying for the next one to come out. It's historically and psychologically rich; a tremendous addition to this growing genre.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have yet to read the second book, so maybe I'll come back and give this five stars once I do, but after finishing this I was impressed with how Jason Lutes was able to balance two different decades with approximately four different sets of characters with four different plot lines, all about to converge on a single date. The complexity of Germany's political situation from 1918-1929 is handled so delicately, subtly resonating in the backdrop of every chapter.
I'm only giving it four stars for now because as it stands, I feel as though I need to know how it ends before I can properly review it and gather my complete thoughts
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Format: Paperback
I picked up "Berlin: City of Stones" and immediately fell in love with it. The art is outstanding and the human interest is unsurpassed. Even minor characters who have but a few frames seem to have Tolstoy-novel vividness to them. For instance:
1) A traffic director whose intestinal constipation makes him see the vehicles he's directing as loathsome insects.
2) A physically vigorous fifty-ish newspaper distributor who likes making fun of the Nazis.
3). A schoolteacher who faces down her dochstoss-spouting student by telling her pupils that November, 1918, was a good month for the German people, as it was the month that brought democracy.
The book is full of these, along with major characters you'll care deeply about. The end - involving a single mother's vision of her now-estranged husband - very moving.
I can't wait for the second installment of a story of individuals in this politically ablaze city. Mr. Lutes, please hurry!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love Berlin - there is something about the people, the pulse and rhythm of life in that city more than any other that speaks to me. Therefore I had to read Jason Lutes' triology of the city, set in the waning days of the Weimar Republic.

In the winter of 1928 and spring of 1929, Berlin found itself still suffering from the war and increasingly divided between fascists and socialists. Historically, Lutes is dead-on: the bohemian days of the early 20's are gone, replaced with economic depression and a sense of desparation as the Weimar Republic began to implode. With this backdrop, Kurt Severing, a journalist and Marthe Muller, a young art student find themselves caught up crises both personal and part of the larger upheval of the times.

Yet what really pulled me in wasn't so much the plot around Kurt and Marthe, but the broad cast of minor characters who pop in and out of the story. In this, Lutes does the city - and its inhabitants - justice enriching the story as Berliners wrestle with a haunting sense of loss from the war while facing their own small frustrations and the larger dissatisfaction with the political and social status quo. Added to this rich narrative tapistry is Lutes' clean drawing style, that for me, captured the spirit of that time and place.

My enthusiasm about the book is certainly influenced by my fondness for the place and my professional interest in the time period. With that said, one could do much worse for a graphic novel in terms of art, story and attention to historical detail. Recommended.
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