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Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin…

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (original 2002; edition 2011)

by Anna Funder

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1,046348,057 (4.06)58
Title:Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall
Authors:Anna Funder
Info:Harper Perennial (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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Stasiland by Anna Funder (2002)

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English (31)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
The author is an Australian journalist who lived in Berlin and Leipzig in the late 1990s and recorded the stories of East Germans, both the victims of abuses by the dreaded Stasi (Ministry of State Security) and the former perpetrators, most of whom seem quite unrepentant about what they did. The stories by the victims are often horrifying and pathetic (in the true sense of that word), stories of split families, carefully planned escapes foiled at the last minute, and the all-pervasive atmosphere of distrust, deceit and Orwellian mass surveillance and informing, including by people blackmailed into informing on their own loved ones. A depressing but important read now a generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 11, 2015 |
Having no knowledge of the destination before reading this book, Funder's guide to 'Stasiland' provided a compelling insight into life within enforced boundaries, under constant surveillance. Cleverly written so as fact engages like fiction, this book enables you to walk with the East Berliners and consider how you would respond to and resolve the experience of 'Stasiland'. The true stories of individual desperate efforts to get over, under or through the wall in the physical sense and the efforts to contain them were engaging, but most powerful for me was the insight provided into humanity. I was exposed to the kinds of motives, weaknesses and courage we are all capable of and it was made clear that 'getting over the wall' will be a life long endeavour for the victims and perpetrators alike. This book highlighted to me the values of freedom and privacy as well as the importance of such literature for societies of all political persuasions. ( )
  Hanneri | Apr 2, 2015 |
I mostly enjoyed this look at East Germany in the decade after the wall came down. It was especially interesting to me because I remember watching all the events leading to the fall of the GDR unfold. I even have an authentic piece of the wall a college friend brought me from his trip to Germany in the summer of 1990. He swears he chipped it off himself, lol. I was interested to read more about ordinary people from the East and their experiences.
Funder shares stories of people who were persecuted by the Stasi, and stories of people who worked for the Stasi. The stories are really interesting, and it is clear that Funder has the ability to create trust with those she interviewed, as well as the ability to communicate the stories with all their emotion and pathos to the reader. A couple of things bothered me. One was that this is someone not only from the West, but not even from Germany doing the writing, and so, in a way, it's really a research project. I was also a little troubled by the judgmental tone that occasionally came across in the writing. The style is journalistic, but easy to read, and if you're interested in the subject, it's worth your time. ( )
  nittnut | Nov 28, 2014 |
This is a "must read" for anyone wanting to understand what life was like in the former East Germany. Anna Funder speaks to victims of the Stasi (State Police) and former employees of the organisation. It is written in a haunting, captivating tone and manages, also, to give the reader a real flavour of what it was like for Anna herself living in the former East Berlin. ( )
  MargaritaMorris | Oct 16, 2014 |
My friend Aleks and I are each writing non-fiction stories that involve some form of first-person narrative. It's a troublesome form, first person, because quite often the narrative gets in the way of the story. Done poorly, it's a narcissistic writer's tool that reads about as well as a monkey uses a hammer.

I realize that's hardly a ringing endorsement for first-person stories, and yet Anna Funder has managed to do exactly the opposite with Stasiland. The book, and the stories of the people she meets as she pieces together life in East Berlin during the time of The Wall, is gorgeous and flawed (in the best way).

Funder's story paints a picture of daily life in East Berlin under the brutal watch of the Stasi, the sector's secret police. She offers little historical insight or weighty dissections of how East Berlin came to be. Instead, she spends her time fluttering from citizen to Stassi to citizen, at each stop painting portraits of a life stuck in a particular time.

Even as I try to capture her narrative style and stylings, I find it difficult. On more than one occasion, I found the lack of contextual depth noticeable only to realize five minutes later that Funder had pulled me along with her gentle narratives. The story felt intellectually light in some places, and yet full of the humanity of her subjects.

It's the last point that I expected to bother me as I finished the book. Certainly the book wasn't long on context. Often I felt as if the author relied simply upon "what you know" about East Berlin to shorthand the narrative, and yet the world of the Stasi's GDR surrounded me as I read and her characters lept off the page.

So if this review seems disjointed in its explanation, let me lay any confusion to rest: Funder's writing is brilliant and beautiful, and paints her story across the canvas. The misgivings about the style are my own.

Read this book today. ( )
  thebradking | Feb 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
While the life-stories are touching and infuriating, she fails to offer insights that would have given her book a wider theme. Nevertheless, taken with a pinch of salt, Stasiland is worth reading. In the end, German history is too serious to be left solely to the Germans.
added by SamuelW | editThe Independent, Henning Hoff (Jul 31, 2003)

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Book description
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterward the two Germanys reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder’s bestselling Stasiland brings us extraordinary tales of real lives in the former East Germany. She meets Miriam, who tried to escape to West Berlin as a sixteen-year-old; hears the heartbreaking story of Frau Paul, who was separated from her baby by the Berlin Wall; and gets drunk with the legendary “Mik Jegger of the East,” once declared by the authorities—to his face—“no longer to exist.” And she meets the Stasi men themselves, still proud of their surveillance methods. Funder’s powerful account of that brutal world has become a contemporary classic.
[retrieved 2/19/2013 from Amazon.com]
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In this book, Anna Funder tells the stories of people who found the courage to resist the Stasi, the communist regime's secret police.

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