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City of Exiles by Stuart Braun

Image of City of Exiles by Stuart Braun


"I like to walk around. When I first got here, I just walked and walked, not thinking about anything, just talking to myself." Iggy Pop, Berlin, 1977

These days it’s easy to associate the word ‘exile’ with the malcontents who have deliberately left their homelands for the freer pastures of Berlin, who sit brooding in cafes jotting away in their journal or planning their next art project.

According to Australian journalist Stuart Braun, Berlin has been home to such people for two centuries – not just the aforementioned wannabes, but genuine misfits, free thinkers, revolutionaries and oddball artists from around the world.

With nary a whiff of pretentiousness, City of Exiles tells the city’s story through a motley cast of outsiders – and not just the predictable Isherwood-Bowie-Iggy variety. Everybody’s in here, from the Expressionists of the 1920s to the Geniale Dilletanten of the 1980s, Rosa-Luxemburg’s pre-WWI Spartacists and the RAF to the American transvestites of the 1970s and the gang of digital exiles allied with Edward Snowden.

All in all, his book is an easy-to-read account of the city’s more colourful characters and their feats. Essential reading for any newbie exile.