The House by the Lake

The House by the Lake

One House, Five Families, and A Hundred Years of German History

Book - 2016
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On the eve of its scheduled demolition, a man unearths the secrets and history of a small lake house on the outskirts of Berlin that had been in his family since the 1930s and creates an intimate, first-person look into German history.
Publisher: New York : Picador, [2016]
New York : Picador, 2016, c2015.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781250065063
Characteristics: 442 pages, [8] pages of plates : illustrations, maps, genealogical tables, plates ; 24 cm.


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Jun 11, 2017

An incredible, engrossing well written account of one house and 5 families that spans a century - the 20th - of Germany's history. It is written and told in a way that makes it much more enjoyable than a straightforward history. I could not put it down! And I learned so much! I highly recommend this amazing true story.

Mar 20, 2017

An interesting way of viewing history: through the various owners and tenants of a much-loved house. The place was originally built by a Jewish doctor in the mid 1920's Germany, near to Berlin and sitting within view of a lovely lake. When the Nazis came to power, of course, then the original family fled and the house was then occupied by a variety of renters. This house saw the glory days of the 20's, the rise of Nazism, the days of Stalin and Soviet influence, and finally the fall of the Wall and freedom. Lots of photos and a personal tie to the house by the author make the entire story come alive.

Nov 25, 2016

Recommended by Jan Michalek

Sep 19, 2016

The Alexander family built, in 1927, a modest lake home near Potsdam, outside Berlin, as a weekend retreat. Their grandson, a British journalist, revisits it in recent years, finding it abandoned and ready for demolition. His book looks at those who lived there, but more interesting, writes a history of a small community just outside the Berlin Wall after World War II.

Reading this book is wonderful social history. It reminded me of a book read a few years back, Simon Mawer’s 'The Glass Room,' which tells the stories of those who built and lived in Villa Tugendhat, designed by Mies van der Rohe, in Brno in the Czech Republic. Theirs is a story, like the Alexanders, of a Jewish family who had to abandon so much that they loved to escape the Nazis.


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