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Berlin in Lights
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"Were it not so tragic," confided Count Harry Kessler (1868-1937) in his diary in June 1932, "it would be grotesque." The inevitability of Hitler's ascendance had grown increasingly apparent, and the "Red Count," a publisher, art collector, and prominent Social Democrat, had reason for apprehension. Within a year, the Weimar Republic would give way to the Third Reich, and Kessler would flee to France, where he was to die without ever returning to his native Berlin. His diaries, which begin with the Armistice of 1918 and end with his death in 1937, form a lens through which the turbulent Weimar years come vibrantly to life. The Kaiser's abdication, the Spartacist Revolt, and Walther Rathenau's assassination are dissected here by an astute, if resigned, observer, yet readers will be equally impressed by his circle of friends: those who passed through his life include Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, Andr Gide, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Virginia Woolf, and Erich Maria Remarque (whose All Quiet on the Western Front Kessler published), among others. Though occasionally disappointing in its omissionsDthe exile years are skimpy (there are no entries for 1934), and Kessler's homosexuality is revealed only in Ian Buruma's fine introductionDthe diaries are a welcome addition to any academic library.DRichard Koss, "Library Journal" Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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