Marie's Reviews > The File: A Personal History

The File by Timothy Garton Ash
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's review
Jun 11, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: nonfiction, memoirs, europe
Recommended for: anyone with academic interest in East Germany

Well, I made it to page 87, not quite halfway through, and decided to stop. I found myself wanting to be done with the book, which is never a good sign. I have too many books on my "to read" list to waste time on a book I'm not enjoying or finding interesting at least.

The book's premise was interesting: an English journalist and researcher who spent time in East and West Germany and Poland gets hold of his Stasi file after the Berlin Wall comes down. He compares the file to his own personal diary and seeks out those who informed on him. I had hopes for this book, and at first I settled in, thinking I would learn a great deal about East Germany and the Stasi.

But as I was wading through the plodding details of way too many people and not enough background, I felt that I was reading a recitation of facts. It didn't keep my interest well enough to want to read on.

If I compare this book to others I've read about China or the Cultural Revolution, or other nonfiction about other countries, the writing pales in comparison. It seems to be an academic recitation of facts, without any insights. It wasn't horrible, but it just wasn't good enough to keep my interest.

Onto more interesting books!
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