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The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the…
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The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

by Mary Elise Sarotte

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There are only a few days in world affairs which stand out as sheerly happy days and Nov 9, 1989, is surely one of those days. I was ecstatic when the Berlin Wall fell. Seldom does a single non-personal event inspire unalloyed happiness. The only thing to compare with it is a day such as when Harry Truman was elected in November, 1948--so unexpected and so satisfying. Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012 are similar days of sheer joy. This excellent book tells of the days in 1989 leading up to the fall of the Wall: the massive peaceful march in Leipzig, the exiting of people from East Germany, and then theactual fall of the Wall! The author shows that the wall did not fall because of anything Reagan said or Bush did, but that it really was accidental that the East German Communists were so flustered and that the evilest of them were out of power and the East German people took advantage of the situation and peacefully caused the wall to be opened. This brings that great day to life and memory again, and I found the reading quite an emotional experience.. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Apr 13, 2015 |
Too much detail for most readers I would suspect, but my personal travel in Germany connected me to this piece of history. Overwhelmingly I came away feeling that what people do, one step at a time can in fact come together to affect change. Most surely a lesson we all need to internalize as we face so many complicated scenarios ahead. Pieces move, interact, change; territories are complicated but malleable. Recommended to those interested in world history and world politics. KH
  splinfo | Feb 25, 2015 |
Too much detail for most readers I would suspect, but my personal travel in Germany connected me to this piece of history. Overwhelmingly I came away feeling that what people do, one step at a time can in fact come together to affect change. Most surely a lesson we all need to internalize as we face so many complicated scenarios ahead. Pieces move, interact, change; territories are complicated but malleable. Recommended to those interested in world history and world politics. KH ( )
  StaffReads | Feb 25, 2015 |
Not a bad book; her thesis is that the wall would have come down anyway once the German people realized their strength ( )
  annbury | Jan 18, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465064949, Hardcover)

On the night of November 9, 1989, massive crowds surged toward the Berlin Wall, drawn by an announcement that caught the world by surprise: East Germans could now move freely to the West. The Wall—infamous symbol of divided Cold War Europe—seemed to be falling. But the opening of the gates that night was not planned by the East German ruling regime—nor was it the result of a bargain between either Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was an accident.

In The Collapse, prize-winning historian Mary Elise Sarotte reveals how a perfect storm of decisions made by daring underground revolutionaries, disgruntled Stasi officers, and dictatorial party bosses sparked an unexpected series of events culminating in the chaotic fall of the Wall. With a novelist’s eye for character and detail, she brings to vivid life a story that sweeps across Budapest, Prague, Dresden, and Leipzig and up to the armed checkpoints in Berlin.
We meet the revolutionaries Roland Jahn, Aram Radomski, and Siggi Schefke, risking it all to smuggle the truth across the Iron Curtain; the hapless Politburo member Günter Schabowski, mistakenly suggesting that the Wall is open to a press conference full of foreign journalists, including NBC’s Tom Brokaw; and Stasi officer Harald Jäger, holding the fort at the crucial border crossing that night. Soon, Brokaw starts broadcasting live from Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, where the crowds are exulting in the euphoria of newfound freedom—and the dictators are plotting to restore control.

Drawing on new archival sources and dozens of interviews, The Collapse offers the definitive account of the night that brought down the Berlin Wall.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

"In The Collapse historian Mary Elise Sarotte shows that the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, was not, as is commonly believed, the East German government's deliberate concession to outside influence. It was an accident. A carelessly worded memo written by mid-level bureaucrats, a bumbling press conference given by an inept member of the East German Politburo, the negligence of government leaders, the bravery of ordinary people in East and West Berlin--these combined to bring about the end of nearly forty years of oppression, fear, and enmity in divided Berlin. Drawing on evidence from archives in multiple countries and languages, along with dozens of interviews with key actors, The Collapse is the definitive account of the event that brought down the East German Politburo and came to represent the final collapse of the Cold War order"--… (more)

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