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The Berlin Wall: 13 August 1961 - 9 November 1989 Paperback – 3 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (3 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585541
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

PRAISE FOR 'DRESDEN' 'In narrative power and persuasion, he has paralleled in Dresden what Antony Beevor achieved in Stalingrad' Independent on Sunday 'Well-researched and unpretentious fascinating Taylor skilfully interweaves various personal accounts of the impact of the raids' Michael Burleigh, Guardian 'Impressive Taylor weaves a chilling narrative from eyewitness accounts and painstaking documentary research, particularly with German sources. He explains the conceptual and strategic background with admirable clarity. His account of the air operation itself is quite superb' The Times

About the Author

Frederick Taylor was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School, and read History and Modern Languages at Oxford, and did postgraduate work at Sussex University. He is the author of the acclaimed bestseller, Dresden. He edited and translated The Goebbels Diaries. He lives in Cornwall.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gerardpeter on 13 Mar 2013
Format: Paperback
The Wall is fading into history, so much of its time as to leave no legacy except a cultural memory. Its future is to be found on ebay where enough "genuine" chips and snips are on offer to rebuild it several times over. It has found in Frederick Taylor a historian who unpicks its meaning just as joyous Berliners once united to unpick its foundations.

Taylor is especially good on the political machinations within the GDR and Germany as well as the geopolitics of the period. He tackles adeptly the real politics of the time, separated from propaganda east and west. He demonstrates that its construction was a wrong move both for East Germany and for the Soviet bloc. It was of no strategic importance, yet it allowed the west to tout West Berlin as capital of the free world without having to challenge the issue of German reunification, which France, in particular, and Britain were at best ambivalent about. Economically it did very little for Ulbricht's state, whose problems did not stem from and were not solved by keeping talent within the GDR. The Wall became a focus for resentment against Soviet policies and Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, an ideological achilles heel. It contributed significantly to its own destruction and the fall of the state that built it.

His anecdotes and vignettes of escapees and guards make for an engrossing and highly readable book. His pen pictures of leading political figures of the day are revealing. Worth noting too is that, although the Wall was an ugly and brutal architectural imposition on the Berlin map, the numbers killed trying to escape were not so great - possibly 130 - and guards too died in shootouts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Bennett on 31 Aug 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having read Frederick Taylor's fast-moving and extremely informative 'Dresden,' I was looking forward to his latest book on that icon of the Cold War - the Berlin Wall. I was not disappointed.

The story of the Wall is not quite as linear as that of Dresden, in which events moved inexorably towards the horrific fire-bombing. Rather, there are three acts: the lead up to the construction of the Wall in 1961; the Wall years; the endgame, 1989.

From the start, the book builds with excitement as it is becomes clear that GDR leader Ulbricht, supported by Security Secretary Honecker, will prevail against the preference of (the surprisingly rational) Khrushchev and be allowed to imprison his own people (who were fleeing in huge numbers). Amazingly, all this was not clear to Western security services.

At the beginning of the 'Wall years' there is a slowing of pace as West Germany and the world come to grips with what has happened right under their noses, and in defiance of the four-power Potsdam Agreement. But it doesn't take long for the excitement to rise again with the escape attempts and the first death. The unravelling of Soviet power that leads to the eventual dismantling of the Wall seems, in the end, to be a closing chapter of the Second World War rather than of the Berlin Wall itself.

Taylor's strength as a historian and storyteller is his ability to weave a great deal of minutely researched detail into a highly readable, very accessible tale. The book taught me an astonishing amount, even though I lived through much of this saga. But it was a pleasure, never a chore.

This book is highly recommended for those who wish to more fully understand a frightening period of recent history.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Simon on 25 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback
Frederick Taylor's book is a superb social and political history of the concrete wall that divided the people of East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989.

This is a fascinating subject. For most of my lifetime up to the fall of the Wall eighteen years ago, a part of Europe not so far from home ran along the lines of a truly authentic Orwellian dictatorship. The notorious East German secret police (the Ministry for State Security or `Stasi') spied, poked and pried into the lives of every single citizen, looking for and punishing any form of dissent against the regime. Even in the Soviet Union, the DDR's `motherland', the ratio of `watched' to `watchers' was never anywhere near as high.

At the end of the Second World War, West Berlin was occupied by the British, French and Americans, with the Soviet Union looking after the East of the city. Shortly afterwards, the border between Soviet-occupied East Germany and the newly proclaimed Republic of West Germany was drawn several miles to the West. Effectively, West Berlin became a `capitalist' island in a communist sea. The Wall was erected around West Berlin in 1961 to stem the flow of East German defectors, hitherto able to permanently vacate life in the 'East' by simply crossing the city. The leaders of the DDR and their Soviet backers claimed at the time that they were trying to prevent 'Westerners' from crossing over to buy cheap Eastern goods but, with defections across the porous border running into thousands every week, it was clear what the real intention was.

Taylor's book charts the history of events leading up to the building of the Wall, subsequent efforts to broker a compromise and the eventual decline of the DDR leading to the toppling of the Wall and German reunification.
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