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The Year that Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall Paperback – 5 Aug 2010
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"The twentieth century ended with a bang in 1989 and Michael Meyer has vividly captured the drama, import and energy of that fascinating year....This is a riveting, rollicking read with many surprises along the way." -- FAREED ZAKARIA, AUTHOR OF "THE POST-AMERICAN WORLD"
"I thoroughly enjoyed "The Year That Changed the World." It is a gripping, colorful account of the rush of events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet empire. It is also a convincing reappraisal of where credit lies and what lessons should be drawn for U.S. leadership." -- JAMES HOGE, "FOREIGN AFFAIRS"
" A coolheaded reconsideration of the revolutionary fervor that tore down the Iron Curtain in 1989...Meyer skillfully g rasps the crux of these events and ably conveys their remarkable significance. Meyer 'liberates' the record with sagacity, precision and remarkable clarity." -- "KIRKUS REVIEWS" (STARRED REVIEW) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Michael Meyer is currently Director of Communications for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Between 1988 and 1992,he was Newsweeks Bureau Chief for Germany, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. He has worked at the Washington Post and has won a numberof international journalism awards. He is the author of Alexander Compex. He lives in New York.
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Top customer reviews
I started to read this book yesterday and am already half-way through it. Such speed is rare for me.
It is written with a journalist's eye and insight into the real events. Meyer seemed to be rushing from country to country at the time, so gathers hundreds of interviews with the key players.
The book conveys superbly the radomn nature of the collapse, and also how it was top-down and from the inside-out. An empire giving away its own power is quite a unique event. It's easy to make sense of it in retrospect, but at the time it was extraordinary and nobody, not even its protagonists, could keep pace with it.
It's very interesting for me to read about events from an American perspective, and strange to find that many of Meyer's fellow Americans felt Reagen and Bush were responsible for regime change, whereas in fact Bush (the original one) was initially quite cold to Gorbachev and suspicious of change. Meyer believes this misreading of history partly led to the foreign policy of Bush Mark 2.
Appart from anything else, it's a great narrative. At times perhaps Meyer goers over the top with embellishing dramatic scenes (probably unneccessary because the drama is already there) but only a stuffy historian would criticise the book for this.
Michael Meyer's style is easy to read, and explains the events unfolding rapidly in Hungary, Poland, the DDR and Czechoslovakia, along with the acquiescence of Mikhail Gorbachev.
Meyer puts together the story of the events, starting with the realization in Hungary that the communist system was bankrupt and had to change, relating his own experiences (as Newsweek's correspondent in Germany and Eastern Europe) and interviews with many of the key players at the time and since then.
A fantastic historical reconstruction; easy to read and hard to put down.
Michael Meyer's clear, "I was there" prose is a pleasure to read. He provides a series of unforgettable vignettes and mind-clearing insights into the most momentous event in recent history, the peaceful collapse of Soviet Communism.
The insights begin on the first page with a dedication to "To MN and those few who dared". Who is "MN"? He is the least known and the most far-sighted and courageous of the many unforgettable figures who put the Soviet Union into history's dustbin: Hungary's Prime Minister, Miklos Nemeth. Read and re-read this book and meet Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth. May history praise his name.
Like most people I have vivid recollections of the unfolding events of the second half of 1989 as one after the other the Communist regimes of eastern Europe collapsed.
What I was less aware of was what led up to that moment, and the man who really made it happen. That man is the former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth.
Michael Meyer's book vividly describes the unfolding events in each country as the pace of change increased throughout that momentous year, from the free elections in Poland to the bloody revolution in Romania and the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia.
But if one man stands out from this amazing story then it is Nemeth.
I particularly enjoyed the account of his meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev where he was seeking approval for his reforms in Hungary.
The picture that sprang to my mind was of Dorothy facing the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, barely daring to ask for anything for fear of refusal.