One of the many strengths of this fluid and constantly captivating book is the wonderful range of voices that Mr. MacGregor has brought together. As well as American soldiers stationed in Berlin, we hear from East German guards, artists, writers, spies, journalists and a handful of successful escapees.
MacGregor brilliantly captures the events that led to the creation of the wall and the people who successfully escaped East Germany. Fans of intrigue will delight in his accounts of the military personnel and journalists who regularly crossed Checkpoint Charlie ... MacGregor captures how other countries reacted, and the care taken to ensure that this volatile situation proceeded peacefully ... A fascinating take on the importance of level-headed people and international agreements working together to manage tense geopolitical situations.
MacGregor naturally gives a lot of space to spies and spooks ... Rightly, MacGregor sets the limited sufferings of the western garrisons against the 140 men and women known to have lost their lives at the Berlin Wall ( rightly, too, he adds the names of the eight East German border soldiers who were killed on duty). The misery of the many thousands of families divided by the wall comes out in many of his interviews. Yet there were other Berlins beyond the city heroised by John F Kennedy in 1963. Many Berliners never even saw the wall...They don’t form part of MacGregor’s story ... MacGregor isn’t always good on history...But the voices he has saved, and the richly researched skill of his narrative at big moments, rescue an echo of one of the many lost Berlins.