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The Year that Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall
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The Year that Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  57 reviews

" Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Preside
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2009)
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Excellent overview of events that led to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. Meyer's position is that the US had almost nothing to do with these events. Instead he focuses on Gorbachev's reforms and his repudiation of the Brezhnev Doctrine--the USSR would no longer intervene in the bloc's affairs. He also highlights the Hungarian vanguard, young Turks within the Communist party who carefully and secretly engineered the destruction of communism not only in their own country but throu ...more
Fabulous first hand account of the fall of Communism from the perspective of Michael Meyers. At the time, Meyers was based in Germany for Newsweek covering Germany and Central Europe in the years leading up to and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We all remember Vaclav Havel in Prague and the "Velvet Revolution" and the Solidarity movement in Poland, but we don't always remember how it all fit together and the lesser known leaders and individuals that put into motion the reform that ultimately ...more
Michael Gerald Dealino
A concise yet great read, this book reveals the events that led to the democratic revolutions that toppled Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, as seen from a correspondent's eyes. It's like a classic movie with a plethora of characters. Villains like Honecker and Ceausescu. And heroes like Walesa, Havel, and the lesser known Nemeth. On one side, a repressive system. On the other, peoples yearning for freedom, democracy, and prosperity. A thrilling read about those heady days of 1989 and a remin ...more
I would never have picked up this book on my own. It was required reading for school. Its format made the font tiny on my screen, but whatever. I would never have read this if not ordered to…and I really liked. I don’t agree with all of Meyers points, but as a fifteen year old I am the ‘ignorant generation” that he wrote this book for. I knew NOTHING about 1989 (my history syllabus is still in the Industrial Revolution, okay). He did presuppose a LOT of, in my case non-existent knowledge of famo ...more
But should you read it? If you've kind of heard of this thing called communism but aren't really sure what it was or why some parts of Europe seem so much poorer than say, Sweden or France, this is a great book to walk you through what happened. It's also short enough that it won't take you very long to read it. Although this book was published before the Arab Spring, another interesting reason to read it is parallel between the fates of the countries that broke free of the Iron Curtain and what ...more
Concise, personal description of the events in the soviet bloc of eastern Europe in 1989, from Jaruzelski in Poland un-banning Solidarity, to the Velvet Revolution in Prague, to the kangaroo-court murder of the Ceausescu's in Romania. Some repetition, clumsy foreshadowing, and written by an american journalist for an american readership, but I still found it an exciting, readable history of that amazing year. Meyer was European correspondent for the news magazine Newsweek, which meant he was tra ...more
Daniel Kukwa
I would have thought this topic would need the length of a Margaret MacMillan epic in order to do it justice...but Michael Myer proves me delightfully wrong. A concise, razor-sharp analysis of who and what was truly responsible for the 1989 fall of Eastern European communism; it certainly opened my eyes to a few key truths that should be more generally publicized. That said, the only thing that keeps this book from true greatness is the final chapter, which decides to hammer home its thesis with ...more
Rupin Chaudhry
I grew up thinking that it was America’s unassailable military and economic might that brought end to communism. This book dispelled my theory. Mr. Meyer has beautifully penned down the events and movers and shakers that brought Berlin wall down and spelled the end of communism in east Europe.

The wall came down because of widespread anger and frustration and sense of having had enough. The change was triggered due to some new leaders from communist camp who understood the inherent defects in co
In the beginning of the book, Meyer talks about the contribution the United States made during the last years of the cold war and how some Americans want to believe that the communist regimes crumbled almost solely because of White House manipulation -- "clever diplomacy backed by raw power." The event he specifically sites is Ronald Reagan's speech "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." I especially found his point about George W. Bush's idolization of Reagan and misunderstanding the events to ...more
Michael Meyer's "The Year That Changed the World" is an excellent accounting of the dramatic events in Eastern Europe during 1989. It was interesting, informative, and intriguing. I have recollections of most the the events Meyers pulls together, e.g., the Solidarity movement and Lech Walesa in Poland, the opening of the Hungarian border under PM Miklos Nemeth, Vaclev Havel in Czechoslovakia, the collapse of the Berlin Wall under Erich Honecker, and the changes under Soviet General Secretary Mik ...more
This is a great book on the events of 1989. I was in 8th grade at the time so it was good to understand these events from a more adult perspective. Some parts of the story, like the secret coordination between parts of the Hungarian government and West Germany were kept hidden so wouldn't have been covered even at the time.

Meyer was on the ground covering these events and his enthusiam and personal experiences shine through. The book is not written as an academic, impersonal way. Meyer clearly
A very useful corrective to the mainly right-wing mythologizing around the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Meyer watched these events happen from ground level and in situ. Particularly good on the importance of certain Hungarian Communists in causing the Wall to fall.
The Year that Changed the World is an amazing behind the scenes tale of the movers and shakers behind the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. It also serves as a much needed check against American narcisism. Did the United States play a role in the demise of the Wall? Absolutely. A magical statement by Reagan followed by the implosion of communism did not.

Though not spectacularly written, Meyer's personal experiences with every government and dissident group leading up to 1989 serves as an imp

Okay, I always bought into the idea that Ronald Reagan's insistent challenge, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" precipitated the opening of the iron curtain. While Meyer, a writer for Newsweek stationed in Germany at the time, does give due respect to both Reagan and Gorbachev, he also outlines the escalating revolutions all over Eastern Europe and the various leaders even more responsible for pushing the Soviet Union over the edge, including Lech Walesa in Poland, Vaclav Havel in Czechoslov
I remember avidly following the unfolding events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the news at the time, but I never realized the pivotal role that Miklos Nemeth, the reform minded Communist Prime Minister of Hungary, played in the collapse of Communism. The description of the events reads more like a Le Carre novel than a book on current event.

Challenges much of the conventional wisdom about the US role in the fall of Communism, and should be required reading for anyone interested in
So interesting. Meyer follows through his experience on the ground and shows how little the US actively had with the fall of the wall. Meyer argues that the US was more powerful by not intervening, and shows how the wall fell from the inside. Very detailed, very interesting. Highly recommend.
I found this book to be extremely interesting. I might have given it 5 stars except for the author's political sniping at the beginning, and again at the end. Through the crystal clear lens of hindsight American leaders were seen to have failed to understand the events as they unfolded, and were therefore buffoons. If eastern European communist leaders right in the middle of the same events also failed to understand they were given a pass. If only Michael Dukakis hadn't worn that silly tank unif ...more
One of my favorite histories of 1989, an excellent read from top to bottom, especially with the personal insights and anecdotes from the author.
Chris Rhatigan
An excellent piece of journalism and history that turns the traditional narrative of the Cold War on its head.
Haymone Neto
Relato de um repórter que estava no olho do furacão durante os anos que resultaram na queda do muro. Relativiza o papel dos Estados Unidos no fim da Guerra Fria, e dá o devido crédito a nomes como Gorbachov, Németh, Havel e vários outros. Boa introdução ao tema.
Robert Bannon
As a one time visitor to the Wall in 1981 and having passed through Check Point Charlie to see the "other side," I looked forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed. Mr. Meyer had the inside track on the major players in Eastern Europe of that time. He brings his contacts, intelligence, curiosity and insight to create the real story behind the story. His ability to bring forward into today's world the connections and lessons that we need to be aware of is an added and "spot on" bonus. ...more
What a fantastic book! I would have enjoyed just a basic history of these events, which are so monumental and don't seem to get written about often enough lately, but the author provided an amazing eyewitness account of such huge events - people pouring through the Berlin Wall when it was first opened, the optimism of Prague and the dark, disturbing events in Romania ... He makes you feel what it was like to be there. Completely compelling the whole way through!
I'm not sure one can beat reading about an historical event written by a Newsweek bureau chief who was there and interviewing all of the right people. Insightful, direct, honest, humorous and illuminating. This ought to be required reading for millions, if only so that they may get a glimpse that luck, follies and the unforeseen unfold even as history is being made. Providence moves on the strength of commitment. Fascinating.
Nathan Shepherd
I lived through the tail end of the Cold War, but I was too young to understand what was going on around me. This account provides good details for those of us who know little about communism, about East European politics, and about the remarkable story of how politics, economics, and dumb luck came together to usher in the fall of the Berlin Wall. All that, and it's told in a fun, engaging way. Highly recommended!
Христо Блажев
Майкъл Мейер разказва за "Годината, която промени света".

Майкъл Мейер е бил кореспондент на “Нюзуик” за Източна Европа по време на знаковата 1989 г. Близо 20 години по-късно сяда да пише, защото вижда, че американците живеят с лъжливото убеждение, че САЩ са предизвикали падането на Берлинската стена и сриването на останалите комунистически режими в Източна Европа.
Abhishek Ganguly
Michael Meyer's analysis of the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall reflects his immense experience as a war correspondant. His understanding of the entire scenario is very practical and the writing is never swayed by the cries of 'Wir sind das Volk'; it is sharp and accurate, as history should always be.

The narrative never takes sides which adds on to the beauty of it.
I went on a binge of reading about the fall of the Soviet Union since this year was the anniversary. This one is interesting because the author was a journalist involved in the events. So it's part autobiography/memoir, part straight history. If you don't care about Hungary, don't read this. If you think you want to care about Hungary, dig in.
This was a great, engaging, readable history. I was in my early teens when the Berlin Wall fell, and I didn't really understand all that was going on behind the scenes or in other Eastern bloc countries. I learned so much by reading this book. Meyer was on the ground as this happened so is certainly qualified to tell this story.
I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall vividly but I didn't understand many of the forces behind it and this book does a great job of explaining it.
I only got about 100 pages in and quit. The author hardly talks about what happened and focuses on what he thinks is going through peoples minds. It is all a romanticized version of events of which I quickly got tired of. I'm sure if the events were written by another author I would be completely engrossed in it.
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