“Horten has written a fascinating, very readable, analytically sharp monograph, based on an impressive amount of primary and secondary sources… The average East German, not the few dissidents or the few fanatics on top, are the real heroes of his narrative.” • H-Soz-Kult
“The book’s strengths lie in the broad range of material and its interesting focus on late socialism in the GDR.” • German Studies Review
“Horten’s book is a very important new step in understanding the power that Western consumer culture—the "Imaginary West”—had in placing the GDR in a profound dilemma, one which ultimately caused its downfall. A model of cultural history, Don’t Need No Thought Control shines new light on how the GDR attempted to walk a fine line between satisfying its citizens' desire for Western consumer culture while remaining true to its socialist foundations, a task that proved to be ultimately impossible.” • Eli Rubin, Western Michigan University
“In this book Gerd Horten brilliantly analyses the problematic impact of Western consumer culture on the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s. No other study has so clearly highlighted the connection between consumer culture and the collapse of the regime. It expands our view of the too often neglected late GDR and offers a persuasive explanation of its decline.” • Christoph Classen, Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History
The fall of the Berlin Wall is typically understood as the culmination of political-economic trends that fatally weakened the East German state. Meanwhile, comparatively little attention has been paid to the cultural dimension of these dramatic events, particularly the role played by Western mass media and consumer culture. With a focus on the 1970s and 1980s, Don’t Need No Thought Control explores the dynamic interplay of popular unrest, intensifying economic crises, and cultural policies under Erich Honecker. It shows how the widespread influence of (and public demands for) Western cultural products forced GDR leaders into a series of grudging accommodations that undermined state power to a hitherto underappreciated extent.
Gerd Horten is Emeritus Professor of History at Concordia University, Portland, Oregon. His first book, Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II, was published by the University of California Press in 2002, and he has published articles in journals including German History and German Studies Review.
BISAC: HIS014000 HISTORY/Europe/Germany; SOC052000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Media Studies; HIS037070 HISTORY/Modern/20th Century