Moorhouse's cinematic account plunges the reader into the Nazi capital. He is particularly acute on the gulf between the Third Reich's epic posturing and the seedy reality. Martial spectacle provoked "a surge of pride" but a close encounter with Hitler's halitosis made his entourage "struggle not to step back in revulsion".
Speer planned a rebuilt Berlin including a Great Hall, "the largest building the world". What actually went up were three gigantic flak towers described as "a fantastic monstrosity from an unknown world".
The horrors piled on Berliners were alleviated by the city's characteristic dark humour. The initials LSR indicating, air-raid shelters, were said to mean "Lernt schnell russisch" (Learn Russian quickly).