MixedThe Guardian (UK)Perhaps after Merkel has left office proper there will be a biography that will lift the veil on her private motivations; Marton’s diligently compiled but often overtly reverential chronological overview is not it. In spite of numerous interviews with close advisers, touted as \'circumventing the chancellor’s extraordinary need for control\', there are few revelations here that cast a new light on her leadership ... At times, there is a slightly comical sense that the qualities Merkel’s biographer finds most intriguing are also those that most elude her: Marton, who also grew up east of the Iron Curtain and went on to become an ABC News foreign correspondent and marry the influential late US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, cannot help but slide her own story into the footnotes. Not quite the lesson one would have expected a writer to draw from studying a politician who managed to command authority by leaning out rather than in ... Perhaps while we wait for Merkel’s inner circle to go public and help produce the first truly illuminating biography of her tenure, we need storytellers to fill in the gaps.
MixedThe Guardian (UK)Merriman hitches her story to a band of protagonists – digger Joachim Rudolph, wannabe escapees Renate and Wolfdieter Sternheimer, spy Siegfried Uhse – and expertly ups the tempo of perspective changes until the narrative tension is as taut as in a thriller. Because the publication of Tunnel 29 coincides with the 60th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, Merriman has front-loaded her book with some broader historical context, and this is where the adaptation from audio to text works least smoothly.The present tense serves the author well to describe the thud-thwack of the tunnellers, but when it comes to the tick-tock of geopolitics it can have a dulling effect ... Merriman has burrowed her way deep into interviews, news reports and Stasi files to fashion an impressive real life page-turner, but as a book on the enduring legacy of the Berlin Wall, it doesn’t quite manage to break through to the other side.