Jörg Später

Siegfried Kracauer - Biography

(German title: Siegfried Kracauer)
ca. 740 pages
Jörg Später

Jörg Später

Jörg Später, born 1966, is a historian and research fellow at the department for Contemporary History at the University of Freiburg.

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English world rights (Polity)

»Please, call me Krac.«


Siegfried Kracauer, born in Frankfurt (Main) in 1889, died in New York in 1966, was truly multifaceted: architect, author, journalist, member of the philosophical quartet with Adorno, Benjamin and Bloch, political leftist. From 1933 to 1941, he was fleeing from the Nazis, first to Paris and then via Marseille and Lisbon to finally arrive in New York, where he took part in the psychological warfare against Nazi-Germany, but was also active as a screenwriter, a social scientist and lastly, the most general description of his: a philosophical author.

Historian Jörg Später has followed the trails of this multifaceted life and written the first major biography about this extraordinary man. He illuminates the places and the milieus, lets us take a part in Kracauer’s friendships and introduces new perspectives on his work.

Kracauer’s multidimensional body of work was translated into more than 15 languages and his influence on modern media as one of the founding fathers of the sociology of film makes him more relevant than ever.


»An impressive biography: narrating freely and with attention to detail, with an independent opinion and comprehensive knowledge, Später is the first to succeed in doing Kracauer justice.« Wolfgang Matz, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»It’s a meticulously researched, well written biography from which you learn a lot about Jewish culture in the Weimar Republic and its aftermath in the emigration to America.« Willibald Sauerländer, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Just as Kracauer himself, his biographer doesn’t aim to explain, much less smooth anything over or exaggerate it – he wishes to show. The main problem of biographism, the overemphasis of the individual, is thereby avoided.« Ralf Konersmann, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Jörg Später has […] published a detailed, empathetic biography that saves one the expense of shelves full of secondary literature.« Detlev Claussen, taz. die tageszeitung

»A truly fascinating story.« Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Später’s intellectual-historical penetration of a turbulent cosmos of intelligence is immense.« Christian Thomas, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Jörg Später has accomplished to write an outstanding, often times elegantly narrated story on the phenomenon ›Kracauer‹.« Alexander Cammann, DIE ZEIT

»The power of this biography lies in the fact that it makes visible the personal causes for the disputes that were often concerned with theory only on the surface, without lapsing into malice or derision.« Bernhard Schulz, Der Tagesspiegel

»The biographer surprises with opinions untainted by clichés and based on good reasons. Später […] avoids the mere registration of facts and possibilities for interpretation and thus shows himself to be what a biographer should generally be: a brave historian.« Thomas Meyer, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»[…] never does he lose sight of his protagonist, nor his readers, who, after reading the more than 600 pages of text, feels as though they, the reading flâneurs, had taken a surprisingly long, but highly stimulating walk.« Tobias Lehmkuhl, Deutschlandfunk

»An outstanding biography« Gesine Reichstein, Radio Bremen

»With his connection of mass psychology and aesthetics and as a film critic Kracauer is still of interest today. Später shows us why in a book that is both lucid and elegant.« Elke Schmitter, Literatur Spiegel April 2017