Top critical review
A missed opportunity to really grab the readers
on 17 July 2017
The lack of a really personal emotional angle, reduced this largely to a parade of information marching past in front of my eyes. This was disappointing given the potential of the subject-matter. For those of us who have seen The Lives Of Others, we might have been expecting to recapture that threat and menace that was the Stasi and to have it backed up with personal experience and research into the personal tragedies that unfolded because of this horrendous organisation. However, in unearthing his own file Garton Ash sticks to facts and supposition and for much of the book I felt I learnt nothing new. One thing he did convey well was the mundanity of much of the spying and informing that went on, ordinary people who have been drawn into the role of informer, possibly reluctantly, reporting details of no real consequence to anyone which must nevertheless be poured over and and recorded. However, as any fool knows, the real interest in secret police and spying is intrigue, mystery and menace and these were hugely lacking. Ash betrays his true colours as a journalist and leaves aside too much human interest for the sake of cold hard facts in my opinion. In the meantime we are exposed to the young life of a very privileged young man who is no doubt also taken to some extent by the ego trip that the Stasi kept a file on him, even though he protests strongly to the contrary.