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on 19 June 2013
I had my doubts about the premise of this book when I started reading it. But Erik Kirschbaum builds a strong case with dozens of interviews of eyewitnesses who give convincing and in some case moving accounts of the biggest rock concert in the history of East Germany. The book shows how Springsteens's performance on July 19, 1988 had a profound impact on very many young people at a time when the momentum for change was building rapidly. Kirschbaum explains the momentous historical backdrop in a well-written and lively narrative that culminates in a superb description of Springsteen's thunderous 32-song marathon gig that may well have fuelled the course of history. Extensive interviews with Springsteen's manager and with the East German officials and helpers who organized the concert -- in a vain attempt to make East Germans think they were free -- give it a well-researched, fly-on-the-wall feel. This is a really good read, not just for Springsteen fans.
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on 21 February 2014
Live Aid 1985, Woodstock 1969, the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show 1964 – more than just musical performances. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band East Berlin July 19 1988?
The author thinks so. He was not there but he interviewed the organisers and many people who attended and who still remember that evening. He also spoke at length to Bruce Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau. He did not get to talk to the man himself, or any of the band.
It was some occasion, for sure. Western rock stars rarely came east and none with the stature of Springsteen. 300,000 came to see him. He played for 4 hours. Springsteen was and is a great performer and he did not disappoint. It is easy to see why this performance has long lived in the memory. Did it cause the the Wall to fall?
The author certainly thinks so and he cites a handful of cultural commentators who agree. He makes much of a speech that the Boss made about bringing down barriers. The speech actually consisted of two sentences which most people could not hear. It was audible to Egon Krenz [East Germany’s last leader], and it did not bother him. Realistically the fact that the East German government approved the concert indicates how much was changing. Moreover, the concert did nothing to dampen the feeling that change had to come. For sure – a glittering event in a year of immense change. It is not surprising that those who were there cannot forget it. It confirms just what a great performer Springsteen is. Bruce remembers July 19 fondly as one of his best concerts. I can't accept Erik's pleas, however. It was a sign of changing times. It did not change the world.
The book is short and there is a fair bit of repetition, too. There are numerous hyperlinks to Youtube videos, though not of the concert itself. There are a few photos of the event, though, and of his interviewees.
The history of the fall of the Eastern States is skimpily told. It really is one for fans of Springsteen - including myself.
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on 23 July 2013
This is an absolute must read for the millions of Springsteen fans, and as importantly, for those students of post WW II politics and history.

The narrative reads like a suspense novel, from the the geopolitics of Central American communism, to the once secret Stasi files, to the East German dictionary definition of "rock and roll", to the young Fraulein dancing in a dream-like state on stage with Bruce in 1988.

Kirschbaum provides intimate details, through first-hand accounts, into the lives of ordinary East Germans, and insight into the minds of the government elite, via a well crafted, and extraordinary well researched chronicle of events in Cold War Europe.

We feel the pain, and joy of the protagonists, and know that Springsteen had a vision for his visit, which, as is his, style, "to always do things for the greater good", provide hope, when there may not seem to be any, empower the masses through the magic of music, and to always believe that change can occur; and in this story, the change that occurred ultimately had a profound impact on the current world order.

July 19, 1988...remember the date!

G. Joseph
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on 1 August 2013
A refreshing new take on a historical event, this book is well worth reading for an alternative reading of the events that led to the Berlin Wall falling in 1989. Though the argument is a little strained in places, it is nonetheless a very enjoyable read thanks to interesting eyewitness accounts, interviews with Springsteen's manager and anecdotal gems. Historians and Springsteen fans alike will enjoy this book and no doubt learn a lot from it.
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on 13 August 2013
Maybe it's a bit difficult to express in 20 words why I loved this book. It's wonderful, but I like everything of Springsteen, after reading this book I think he really did something great for a lot of people
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on 29 July 2013
This is a great book that really got me thinking about how the Cold War really ended. Why do people always assume that it takes takes and nuclear missiles to win wars...this time it was rock 'n' roll that helped end the Cold War. I think it's time to take a new look at all the factors that went into the collapse of the Berlin Wall and this book really opened my eyes about a lot of things. I couldn't stop reading this thing once I started and finished it in a day. Great story and well worth the money...highly recommend this book.
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on 16 December 2013
Like others, I had my reservations when I bought this. Was this particular 1988 concert really so important in the grand scheme of things? Surely, you could choose a concert by anybody, in any corner of the world, and use it as a focal point to riff off. But the way the writer paints the picture, maybe it really was so important. Maybe a little repetitive at times but otherwise well-written and impeccably researched.
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on 15 February 2014
Flies along like a thriller. A must read if you've any interest in either Springsteen, the fall of communism or just unusual rock stories
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