Soft Line On Berlin,
This review is from: Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth (Hardcover)
Like Beevor's Stalingrad, Frederick Kempes book is written in such a way that the reader is transported to the events he describes.
The private meetings, the Whitehouse, the Kremlin etc. Its a richly researched account on what in many ways is an historical event that is rarely discussed compared to the movies, books and documentaries on the Cuban missile crisis.
The Berlin crisis was in many ways a defeat for the west and Pres Kennedy becuase the closure of East Berlin was illegal. Krushchev bullied Kennedy into submission.
Kennedy would defend his inaction by quipping, "Better a wall than a war." Perhaps. But Mr. Kempe observes that he almost got the latter anyway a year later when Khrushchev, emboldened by JFK's back-down on Berlin, placed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba. So even though Cuba is seen as one of Pres Kennedys greatest moments, the world brought back from the brink of nuclear destruction, it may never have happened had the Kennedy administration adopted a far harder line on the Soviets and East Germans building of the Berlin wall, ensuring millions were trapped for a further three decades under oppresive communist rule, 200 dying trying to get over it.
A great companion book to this and even better read in my opinion is Jim Rasenbergers account of the Bay Of Pigs- "The Briliant Disaster",