Summary and book reviews of Brandenburg Gate by Henry Porter

Brandenburg Gate

By Henry Porter

Brandenburg Gate
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Mar 2006,
    448 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2007,
    448 pages.

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Book Summary

September 1989. The Communist government in East Germany is on the brink, desperately clinging to power through the iron grip of the Stasi. One of the most formidable intelligence services the world has ever seen, the Stasi has one informer for every seven residents of East Germany, plus countless armed guards, special jails, and nightmarish interrogation centers. But even the Stasi can’t stop the rebellion that ends in the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is in these last few frenzied weeks that Brandenburg Gate is set.

Dr. Rudi Rosenharte, formerly a Stasi foreign agent, now an art scholar living in Dresden, is sent to Trieste to rendezvous with his old lover, Annalise Schering. The problem: Rudi knows she’s dead. He saw her lying in her own bloodied bathwater, and then kept her suicide a secret.

The Stasi believe Annalise is returning to the fold with vital intelligence. To make sure Rosenharte plays the game while in Italy, they have imprisoned his family. But the Stasi is not the only intelligence agency using Rosenharte. Soon the British and the Americans encircle him, forcing him to choose to either abandon his beloved brother to a torturous death or return to East Germany as a double agent.

Brandenburg Gate is a brilliant, gripping, and multilayered espionage thriller that captures the fall of the Berlin Wall, the most important geopolitical event of the last fifty years, as shocking and unexpected as it was revolutionary.

1
Edge of the Void

The man in the straw hat dogged his footsteps from the first, keeping his distance, yet never bothering to hide himself. Rosenharte saw him loitering outside the hotel when he checked in, then at the conference centre and later sitting at a cafe in Piazza dell’Unità, a mournful fellow with a washed-out face, who wore the hat unconvincingly on the back of his head as though he’d just won it in a shooting gallery. At times he got so close that Rosenharte could see the ventilation holes in the side of the hat and a mark on the narrow brim. He wanted to be seen – that much was clear – and once or twice Rosenharte thought he was going to approach, but then he seemed to decide against it and darted away into a side street.

He wondered if the man was the visible part of the Stasi’s surveillance operation in Trieste, put on his tail to remind him of their presence. Though he didn’t need it; they had made it clear to him ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

This is a first-rate thriller, comparable to the best of Le Carr√© or Littell.  Porter juggles a complex plot and a large cast of well-developed characters with aplomb, but it is his depiction of the dying days of East Germany, and the massive reach of the secret police required to maintain a country set to implode, that raises Brandenburg Gate above the level of mere entertainment.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Booklist - David Wright

Although a mite overstuffed, the novel’s engrossing plot, convincing tradecraft, and vivid depiction of a ruthless totalitarian regime losing its stranglehold ... prov(e) that the golden age of spy fiction isn’t over yet.

Publishers Weekly

Starred review. It's easy to see why this riveting read won the CWA's Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award.

Library Journal

Beautifully researched and rich in incident and intriguing characters, this tour de force ... has as many twists as a mountain road but is never confusing.

The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

An accomplished retro-thriller . . . warmly recommended. Henry Porter has fast become one of the masters of the genre.

The Sunday Times (London)

A first-rate thriller . . . Porter sustains an elaborate plot skillfully and portrays memorable, multifaceted characters.

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Beyond the Book

As The Berlin Wall fell my husband and I procrastinated. We sat in our small London house saying to ourselves that we really should go and see it, but we'd just got back from our honeymoon, and there were things to do, thank you cards to write, jobs that we shouldn't really take any more time off from - and as a result we frittered away the opportunity to see first-hand one of the most momentous events of the 20th century. ...

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