BERLIN: CITY OF SMOKE reviewed by The New York Times Book Review

Holiday Books

New York Times Sunday Book Review    |    Douglas Wolk    |    December 7, 2008

The second volume of Jason Lutes’s Berlin trilogy, BERLIN: City of Smoke (Drawn & Quarterly, paper, $19.95), has appeared, eight years after the first. (Comics this meticulous take a long time.) Set in 1929 and 1930, as the Nazis were rising to power, it follows Germany’s slide toward catastrophe through the experiences of characters navigating the chaos of the disintegrating Weimar Republic: a black American jazz group hoping to strike it rich, a homeless Jewish man taking a Communist girl under his wing, a tightly wound journalist losing his girlfriend to the city’s demimonde and his composure to the country’s impending horror. The fascist tide at first creeps gradually into Lutes’s graceful, tightly composed little panels, but with the pivotal killing of Horst Wessel, two-thirds of the way through, everything starts plummeting into hell much faster.

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