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The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,152 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
ON the morning of August 13, 1961, the residents of East Berlin found themselves cut off from family, friends, and jobs in the West by a tangle of barbed wire that ruthlessly split a city of four million in two. Within days the barbed-wire entanglement would undergo an extraordinary metamorphosis: it became an imposing 103-mile-long wall guarded by three hundred watchtower ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published October 2006)
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At its best this book is entertaining. At its worst it is over extended, sloppy and a rag-bag of whatever the author felt was interesting with no consistent focus.

With 449 pages of text about half actually deals with the Berlin Wall and then only about a six or seven-year period around the wall's construction and then again the last few years down to 1989. The rest is filled up with a run through of Berlin/German history that is irrelevant, patchy and occasionally inaccurate and some general col
Sep 21, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: berliner
Fun to read, but I'm not sure The Wall deserves it's own history. The author uses it as an excuse to tell only selective stories (the most exciting and sexy ones of course) of the Cold War, but these snippets are not really unified by the concept of the Wall itself. He does a good job of explaining why we Westerners were relieved by the Wall's erection and how we continued to love it as a symbol, but this isn't new revisionist work deserving of an entire volume; this story was not one that had t ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Taylor takes a Noah and the Flood approach to his subject, which is to say he examines the beginning of Germany, the effects of Bismarck, the Emperors Wilhelm, and the aftermath of WWI, before glossing over the rise of Hitler and most of WWII and diving in for a fascinating examination of the foundation of East Germany and the relationship between the leaders of East Germany and the Soviet Union. Particularly vivid and meaningful for me is his recounting of the months leading up to the fall ...more
I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. I'm done.
What a tome.

I had no idea when I picked this up that it would take me so long, or so much effort, to get through.

I have recently become fascinated by the Berlin Wall, mainly thanks to Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels. I found it unacceptable that I, a student of history, who had studied the world wars from more than one perspective, and Germany specifically, had never actually known what the Wall was, or how it came to be, or how it came to collapse. It was just one of those things I was con
Jesper Jorgensen
I really enjoyed reading this book. Taylor has a good 'flow' in his account and just the right dose - in my humble opinion - of personal remarks. If I had had the time I would have read it continuously

So, if you feel an irresistible urge to read about The Wall, this book is a very good choice. Go ahead and enjoy
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Last October my husband and I made a trip to Germany where we met my penpal of 50 years for the first time. Hans and his wife both grew up in East Germany not far from Berlin. They were our tour guides for two days and took us to many places that had a great deal to do with The Wall and the history of Berlin. I read this book because I had a sense of a history I needed to know more about.

This is an interesting book with a great many facts. The first half of the 486 page book is rather slow and t
Pete daPixie
The Evening Standard's review printed on the front cover states "Superb, fast paced and readable history." I am sure many readers will be taken aback by the broad swathe of history that Frederick Taylor encompasses here. The title, 'The Berlin Wall: 13 August 1961-9 November 1989' is somewhat misleading when delving into this book. Prior to reaching the 13th of August 1961, the first third of the text introduces Roman Berlin, a dash through the Middle Ages to Bismark's 19thC German unification, ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a comprehensive overview of the events that shaped the building, maintenance, and ultimate dismantling of the notorious Berlin Wall, look no further than this. Taylor’s sweeping narrative of the post-WWII/Cold War political happenings that resulted in this great, divisive eye-sore being constructed through the center of the former capital of Germany and the vanquished NAZI government is a tightly written page-turner. Taylor begins his book by detailing the one party rule put into place by th ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starting with a history of the Germanic and Prussian land and its development, it moves efficiently through to the first half of the 20th century, showing how the men who would control the DDR and its citizens for the next forty years would rise to power. The creation of the Wall is mentioned in detail as Berlin awoke to find itself divided by barbed-wire.

Ruling by fear, Honecker, Ulbricht and Mielke keep the population under intense scrutiny with the surveillance techniques of the Stasi, turni
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Frederick Taylor is a British novelist and historian specialising in modern German history.

He was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School and read History and Modern Languages at Oxford University. He did postgraduate work at Sussex University on the rise of the extreme right in Germany in the early twentieth century. Before embarking on the series of historical monographs for which he is best known,
More about Frederick Taylor...
“The post-war Soviet War Memorial in the Tiergarten was known, with typical dark Berlin wit, as the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Rapist’.” 0 likes
“conspirational tradecraft” 0 likes
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