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 cut 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 watchtowers. A physical manifestation of the struggle between Soviet Communism and American capitalismtotalitarianism and freedomthat would stand for nearly thirty years, the Berlin Wall was the high-risk fault line between East and West on which rested the fate of all humanity. Many brave people risked their lives to overcome this lethal barrier, and some paid the ultimate price.
In this captivating work, sure to be the definitive history on the subject, Frederick Taylor weaves together official history, archival materials and personal accounts to tell the complete story of the Wall's rise and fall, from the postwar political tensions that created a divided Berlin to the internal and external pressures that led to the Wall's demise. In addition, he explores the geopolitical ramifications as well as the impact the wall had on ordinary lives that is still felt today. For the first time the entire world faced the threat of imminent nuclear apocalypse, a fear that would be eased only when the very people the Wall had been built to imprison breached it on the historic night of November 9, 1989.
Gripping and authoritative, The Berlin Wall is the first comprehensive account of a divided city and its people in a time when the world seemed to stand permanently on the edge of destruction.
In the summer of 1961, sixteen years after the end of the Second World War, the world was faced for the first time with the realistic threat of nuclear annihilation.
The background cause was the development, during the 1950s, of massively destructive nuclear weapons by both East and West. The immediate reason was the construction of a wall, a wall dividing a city built on sand.
Berlin, where this ominous thing happened, had always been an improbable metropolis. A fishing and trading settlement, surviving on sandy, boggy soil, it then became capital of one of the poorest monarchies in Europe: Prussia, a state whose very weakness gradually became its strength, and whose habitual trade of military violenceforced on it by its meagreness of natural resourcesmade it powerful, and Berlin one of the great urban centres of the world.
So how and when did the city's rise begin?
Twentieth-century Berlin was divided. And at its very beginning it ...
Taylor has penned a compelling, thrilling, narrative history of the rise and fall of The Berlin Wall from a hastily constructed barbed-wire fence to the 30 miles of concrete and 300 watchtowers that followed shortly after. He looks not just at the barrier that partitioned a city, and the human stories of those effected by the Wall, but also at the global politics behind its construction in 1961, 16 years after the war had ended and 13 years after Stalin's failed attempt to seal off the city had been foiled by the Berlin airlift.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1162 words).
A short guide to some notable historic barriers:
Hadrian's Wall was built in AD 122. It measures 80 Roman miles (73.5 miles/117 km). It was the second of three stone and turf fortifications the Romans built across Britain to prevent military raids by the Picts (who inhabited what is now Scotland) but is best known as it is the best preserved. The lesser known walls are Gask Ridge, built about 40 years before Hadrian's Wall, and the Antoine Wall, built ...
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