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1989: The Berlin Wall: My Part in Its Downfall

1989: The Berlin Wall: My Part in Its Downfall [Kindle Edition]

Peter Millar
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

It was an event that changed history, bringing the Cold War to a sudden, unexpected end and seeing the collapse not just of Communism but of the Soviet Union itself. Stereotypes disappeared overnight, and the maps of a continent had to be redrawn. Peter Millar was in the middle of it, literally – caught in Checkpoint Charlie between bemused East German border guards and drunk Western revellers prematurely celebrating the end of an era. For over a decade Millar had been living in East Berlin, as well as Warsaw and Moscow, and in this engaging, garrulous, bibulous memoir we follow him on a journey in the heart of Cold War Europe, from the carousing bars of 1970s Fleet Street to the East Berlin corner pub with its eclectic cast of characters who embodied the reality of living on the wrong side of the Wall. We relive the night that it all disintegrated, and its curious domino-like effect on Eastern Europe. We find out how Peter Millar felt when he opened his Stasi file and discovered which of his friends had – or hadn’t – been spying on him. A compelling, amazingly insightful and entertaining read, this book swiftly dispatches the mythology of the Fall and brings Peter Millar’s characteristic wit and insight to one of the most significant moments in history.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2373 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Books; B format edition (15 Aug 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,443 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Peter Millar was born in Northern Ireland and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read French and Russian. He worked for Reuters news agency as the sole non-German correspondent in East Berlin in the early 1980s, also covering the Solidarity movement in Poland before moving to Warsaw, where he pressed the button to tell the world of the election of Mikhail Gorbachev, a defining moment in Soviet history.

In 1985 he joined the Sunday Telegraph in the newly created role as Central Europe Correspondent - a title he invented to anticipate the dramatic changes about to overtake the continent - before moving to The Sunday Times, in early 1989, just in time to catch the climactic final stages of The Cold War. Millar was seized by the Volkspolizei on the streets of East Berlin during the demonstrations which accompanied Gorbachev's visit in October, interrogated by the Stasi and expelled from the country. Nonetheless he managed to get back by November 9, the dramatic night the Berlin Wall came down.

These events form the background to his 2009 autobiographical book: 1989, The Berlin Wall (My Part in its Downfall), a title he freely admits much to the late Spike Milligan. He is a firm believer that there is humour (if occasionally dark) behind even the greatest historical events.

In the 1990s Millar worked briefly with Robert Maxwell, as deputy editor of his ill-fated newspaper The European, a role he has since described as "like being aide-de-camp to Stalin."

For the past decade Millar has concentrated on books, with two thrillers to his name and a third - The Black Madona - due out in the autumn of 2010. He is also author of All Gone to Look for America, a travel book reflecting his love of trains, history and good beer, crisscrossing the United States in a 10,000 mile journey on the now little used railways that were instrumental in turning most of a continent into a single nation.

He is married with two grown-up sons, divides his time between the north Oxfordshire brewing village of Hook Norton and South London where he can often be found (often in a state of chronic despair and with fingernails chewed to the bone) following the vicissitudes inflicted by fate on his beloved Charlton Athletic.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Twenty years ago I sat in front of my television watching crowds stream through the Brandenburg Gate as the East German border guards finally gave up the job of trying to prevent people crossing from one side of the Berlin Wall to the other. Anyone with a sense of history could not help but share in the jubilation as a whole nation was set free from the vast prison camp which was East Germany.

Peter Millar, a Sunday Times journalist, was present as these historic events happened around him, and his long years of living in East Germany and Russia have equipped him to write a vibrant and involved account of 1989 and the preceding years leading up to the year of liberation.

I enjoyed reading 1989 The Berlin Wall: My Part in its Downfall as much as anything I have read this year. Millar's eye-witness accounts of his time in Berlin provide a ground-level view of events and serve as a useful counterpoint to the other, more scholarly books on the period which have been recently published such as Victor Sebestyen's Revolution 1989 (review to follow).

Despite being a "serious" journalist (Foreign Correspondent of the Year, 1989 etc), Millar has adopted an almost Bryson-esque approach to his description of his life, first as a young Reuter's correspondent and then as a journalist on national newspapers. While his newspaper articles were serious and weighty pieces, there is obviously a humorist in his psyche too.

Millar began writing professionally in the days of Remington typewriters, and rapidly learned the skills of his trade, particularly building a readable story from the barest of facts.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and serious too 21 Oct 2009
This is much better than the normal journalist-looks-back book. It's good fun and you learn a lot too. Peter Millar is an excellent writer and also a committed pub man. So some of this book is communism seen from the life of a small East German bar, the Metzer Eck. (And no, Millar is not the typical drunk hack seeing life in beery cliches!). This turns out to be a surprisingly interesting way of seeing it. Insightful, you might say, except that it's such a dreadful word.
Read it for the history but also read it for the way it tells you about real journalism. As newspapers shrink and fail, and news is stuff put out by celebrities PR, this will remind you of a world of proper news that we are losing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time to come 2 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I agree with all the good things said about this book. Just like to add that it'll probably be regarded as a source document to future historians. That is, if historians in the future are unlike today's brats - interested in what happened.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a wonderful book! 28 Jan 2011
I have just finished this book. I was in Berlin a year after the wall came down; though it was down, it was so easy to know when you were in the west side or the east; it was like going into a time vortex back several decades. I'm about to go back soon for so intriqued by his experience. I've also been to Moscow, and was interested in his diversion there. I did thing he would have a right wing attitude due to the newspaper he'd worked for - but also Reuters, but he was not. His experiences were fascinatin, and it is good that he could get so close to east berliners that they opened to him as to their real feelings; but he wss no standbyer, he was part of the environment.

I just finished it last night, and in the last few pages he makes very pertinent comments about our situation in the U.K in relation to the old East German state.

Fascinating book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the topic
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Real 5 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not a work of fiction, its not even a retrospective description of past events by a historian, but an account of events many us remember watching from afar, with scant understanding of the issues and significance at the time. Peter Millar was there, living on the eastern side of town, with the people, reporting on their often ordinary daily lives when something extraordinary started to happen around him.
Taking much of its text from his reporting of the time, this is not history re-written with the benefit of hindsight, but live reporting of events as they happen, with the benefit of years of experience, reflection and analysis.

Even if you don't enjoy "history" and you feel the events in this book have no relevance to your life today, you should read this book, because they do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story 13 Nov 2012
By B
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, easy to read and very entertaining. A great insight into East Berlin in the 80s before the Wall came down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air. 15 Feb 2010
Peter Miller wasn't just passing through. In 1981 he and his wife set up their first marital home in East Berlin.

He shares with us the trials and tribulations of starting a new life in a Police State. Miller has a dry sense of humor, and a refreshing way of seeing the world. Not your typical hack! For example, he recalls his driving lessions, and driving test in East Berlin.

What he is very good at is discribing people. He became a regular in his local bar, and made close friendships with many East Germans. In the book he paints a good mental picture of these people, and their life history. So when The Wall comes down, we are seeing it through the eyes of all the charicters we have come to know through the book.

Miller also describes his time working in Mascow, London, and as the Central Europe Correspondent.

Some years after the fall of The Wall he was able to read the file that The Stasi had compiled on him. He sees ther funny side of that as well!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this! Very easy to read & you get ...
Really enjoyed this! Very easy to read & you get to appreciate what life was like for the East Berliners. Fascinating.
Published 2 months ago by Cheekyboots
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I visited Berlin last year and went on a walk about tour which took us to many parts of the old East Berlin and have been fascinated ever since. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Leigh Sadler
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging and personal history
I throughly enjoyed this very personal account of the collapse of not just the Berlin Wall but of Communist Eastern Europe. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Andrew Long
5.0 out of 5 stars well written and personal
I liked the candid way this was written by a self-deprecating expert in the field who brought everything down to the personal. Read more
Published 8 months ago by rory
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Educational, funny & great writing. Great way to learn the history of the Berlin Wall from the people's point of view who experienced first hand as well as a journalistic point of... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Junko
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty reality at its seedy best
I was living in Germany at this time with the army and my biggest regret is not getting on a train and going up to Berlin when the wall came down. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book
Having lived in Germany for many years during the Berlin Wall time and visiting the city since the fall of the Wall, I am very interested in stuff about 1989. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Diane McG
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
An excellent trawl through the history of eastern Europe. Made more readable by its first hand account, rather than a fact filled history book.
Published 14 months ago by Jwills
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading prior to a visit to Berlin
This book was very easy to read & refreshed my knowledge of the build-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Read more
Published 18 months ago by M M SCOTT
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining
A very lucid and often humourous account of the author's travails behind the iron curtain. He brings a familiarity to this world which opens up before us. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Burnel
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