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The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall


Book Overview: The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

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 GÃ1/4Schabowski, mistakenly suggesting that the Wall is open to a press conference full of foreign journalists, including NBC's Tom Brokaw; and Stasi officer Harald Jär, 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.

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PublisherBasic Books
Publication Date2015-09-29
Dimensionsin x in x in
Weight lbs
Mary Elise Sarotte is an eminent author and historian, lauded internationally for her profound contributions to understanding the Cold War and its epoch-defining terminus. Born and raised in the United States, Sarotte traversed the realms of academia, earning her PhD in Government from Harvard University and triumphantly merging political science with history in her scholarly pursuits. She has proved herself not just as a historian but also as an educator, holding marquee positions in numerous universities such as the University of Southern California and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. With her primary research interests firmly rooted in international relations, Sarotte has written poignantly about the end of the Cold War, its strategically intricate aftermath, German history, and transatlantic relations. Her book 'The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall' received accolades for its meticulous analysis and riveting narrative of a defining moment in history. This work and more have earned Sarotte fellowships from illustrious institutions like the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy in Berlin. In addition to being a celebrated author, Sarotte enjoys a notable reputation as an editorial contributor, her pieces having graced the pages of the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and many other prestigious publications. Her ability to distill complex historical phenomena into digestible information has enabled a broader audience to engage with the pivotal events and epochs she studies. Sarotte continues to enrich academia with her insights, serving as the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

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