Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Stall Review: The Year that Changed the World

The Year that Changed the World
The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall
by Michael Meyer
Scribner, 2009

As Newsweek's bureau chief in Germany, Michael Meyer was an eyewitness to the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the 20th anniversary of 1989, he pays tribute to the event in this memoir which documents the key players in the drama, from Czech president Vaclav Havel and the Hungarian despot Nicolae Ceasuşescu to Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

"Nothing has ever been so freighted with symbolism, ideology, and history. The Wall was World War II, the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, the high tide of totalitarianism and communist dictatorship, the frontier of democracy. You could feel it, smell it, run your hands over it, look across it. On the one side, us. On the other, them."

For those born too late to recall its significance, this book tells the story of the rise and fall of a Cold War icon. For the rest of us, its another opportunity to shake our heads in amazement. It really is gone, isn't it?

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