Sunday, January 14, 2007

Recommended Summer reading

Apart from long afternoons, cold beers, the beach and eating to excess, one of the great joys of the Summer break is catching up on some reading.

I did some of that in the past two or three weeks.

Among my reading list was a Christmas present from my wife: The Berlin Wall - 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989, by British writer Frederick Taylor.

Published in the UK late in 2006, the book is probably the most complete (and human) history of the Berlin Wall I have come across, at least in the English language.

Using archival material as well as personal interviews, Taylor examines the lethal partition that for 28 disgraceful years would divide Berlin and its citizens - lovers, brothers and sisters, friends. Entire families.

He tells the story of those who somehow managed to escape across and survived to tell the tale.

Many didn't - and many of their stories are in the book, too.

Erected over a quiet Summer weekend, the heavily-fortified Communist Wall was designed to stop East Berliners from fleeing the Soviet-controlled part of the city for the “decadent” West.

Of course, this is not how the East German regime described its well-planned monstrosity.
Using the sort of language we still hear all the time from Havana, the Communists said the Wall was an “anti fascist protection barrier”.

In truth, as we all know, it was the most vivid physical representation of all that was bad (and remains bad) about Communism.

Get your hands on the book. Highly recommended.


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