Anarchy In A Cold War is set in divided Berlin in 1981. But Berlin is far more divided than just the Cold War divisions of East and West. The book centres on the squatter culture against the state, and the “Bullen” (police) who harass, beat and arrest the squatters. The narrative also highlights the rich culture of the street, and the different groups, political and racial, that inhabit the thoroughfares of Berlin. There are a lot of parties, and support networks. However, the main characters in the novel are a group of anarchist punks. They hail from across Europe, and help each other set up squats. This is a feel good novel on the whole. Most of the relationships are positive, and people help each other develop living space. Whilst partying and drinking copious amounts. Some more than others. The problems of places like Christiania, in Copenhagen, are mentioned, i.e smack heads ruining things, and the knowledge that the state are encouraging this. But this is not a major issue in Berlin, and the majority of the squatters regulate themselves, and behave in a communal way. There are problems with the state though, and the squatters are regularly harassed by the “Bullen”. There is lots of riot porn in the book, and the descriptions are exciting and charged. You can almost smell the tear gas, and feel the fear of the squatter cut off from their mates in the chaos of the street fight. Also here there is a strong undercurrent of comradely defence of a disparate community, with hippies, Maoists, and anarchists amongst others, all defending their space from the state violence ranged against them. There are some sad bits. Without wanting to spoil the book, it becomes evident that one of the main characters is in the pay of the police, and is giving information. Some of the main protagonists are drinking themselves stupid. But this is life, and this historical work records and celebrates an important time in the international class war.
The book is quite short, and I read it in just over a day. This is partly because it is an easy read, and also exciting. However, I do feel that £8.99 cover price could put some people off. It would be good for people to all chip in, and pass from hand to hand. All in all, this is a good read.
Snuff on behalf of BRHG December 2014