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The appearance of a hastily-constructed barbed-wire entanglement through the heart of Berlin during the night of 12-13 August 1961 was both dramatic and unexpected. Within days, it had started to metamorphose into a structure that would come to symbolise the brutal insanity of the Cold War: the Berlin Wall.

Frederick Taylor tells the whole gripping story of the post-war political conflict that led to the tragedy of a divided Berlin, when the city of almost four million was ruthlessly cut in two, unleashing a potentially catastrophic East-West crisis. For the first time the entire world faced the threat of imminent nuclear apocalypse, a fear that would vanish only when the very people the Wall had been built to imprison breached it on the historic night of 9 November 1989.

Weaving together official history, original archive research and personal stories,
THE BERLIN WALL is the definitive account of a divided city and its people in a time when humanity seemed to stand permanently on the edge of destruction.


“A story of great drama and human interest … Hundreds tried to escape through, or under the Wall, and Taylor tells the story of their ingenious efforts and occasional heart-stopping successes with great verve”
-- The Times

“”Superb, fast-paced and readable history … This important book reminds us of a dangerous age we lived through”
-- Evening Standard (London)

“A thorough attempt to preserve the historical record before the moths of fading of or false memory devour it … an intelligent and well-researched account. His most commendable achievement is to have resuscitated those who died because of the Wall.”
-- The Daily Telegraph

“The story of this ‘foetid flourishing’ is convincingly told … For those who wish to understand the rise of the Wall, this book is valuable”
-- The Independent

“A fine book, perfectly balanced between historical analysis and lively anecdote and written with great verve”
-- The Literary Review

“Frederick Taylor … follows up his outstanding Dresden with The Berlin Wall, and manages once again to combine serious historical research with an assured, gripping narrative … Taylor's extraordinary narrative skill - with the pacing of a thriller and the immediacy of reportage - is at its best as he knits together into a seamless narrative numerous eye-witness accounts of August 12th and 13th, 1961”
-- The Irish Times

“The Berliners’ spirit shines though in this account of the first years of Soviet control. However, it is when the building of the Wall commences that Taylor really hits his stride. Using personal accounts of those who lived through the brutal division of Berlin in 1961, he intricately weaves stories to form a superb, gripping narrative.”
-- Susie Dent, Countdown word expert and Costa/Whitbread Prize judge, “Reading for Pleasure” in The Bookseller.

"A superb narrative … Taylor's enthralling story, combined with impeccable research and its rich human interest, makes this as dramatically gripping as any of the spy thrillers that used the wall as a backdrop.”
-- Publishers Weekly (USA)

“Taylor provides a fascinating and often heartbreaking account of both the human costs and the geopolitical effects.”
-­ Booklist

“This book provides fast-paced narratives focusing on individuals caught up in the defining moments of World War II and its aftermath … The stories give new life to a once-vital chapter in history that since has been superseded.”
­- Library Journal

“What grabbed us -- the powerful portraits of East Germans who fled
and also those forced to stay”
-­ Wall Street Journal Summer Books Roundup

“Highly readable … In chilling, precise detail, Mr. Taylor explains how the regime made its preparations.”
-­ New York Sun

"[A] gripping, impassioned history of the cold war's most malevolent symbol...The tales are both horrific and thrilling...Taylor does a great service in carefully separating myth from reality, symbol from substance as he traces the history of the wall from its beginnings in August 1961."
-- New York Times

"Recommended....Hold[s] your attention.... A serious, edifying experience."
-- Janet Maslin, CBS Sunday Morning "Hot Summer Books"

"It’s a story we think we know, since the outlines have long figured in headlines. But as Frederick Taylor demonstrates in this new history, it’s also a story with odd twists and hidden secrets, many only recently revealed, some that have been forgotten and are worth repeating … Taylor concludes his excellent history much as I began this review, with a stroll through the newly intact neighborhoods, marveling at the fact that in many parts of Berlin, it is impossible to tell where the Wall used to be. Indeed, sometimes it seems as if it had never existed at all."
— Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post


THE BERLIN WALL is available in paperback from all book shops, from the publisher, and from amazon.co.uk.

THE BERLIN WALL is also published by HarperCollins in the USA. It is available in both hard and soft cover from book stores as well as from amazon.com.

THE BERLIN WALL has been translated into French, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish Italian, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Czech, Hebrew, Finnish, Spanish, Estonian, German, and Chinese.


THE BERLIN WALL is published as DIE MAUER in German by Siedler Verlag.



German historian Hubertus Knabe says: "Taylors Buch ist keine langweilige Dokumentation der Mauergeschichte. Es ist ein spannendes, grosses und wuerdiges Buch zum Jubiläumsjahr des Mauerfalls." The text of his complete verdict is available at http://www.dradio.de/dkultur/sendungen/lesart/901735/ or as a podcast at http://ondemand-mp3.dradio.de/file/dradio/2009/01/11/drk_20090111_1230_4245658c.mp3.



In the regular monthly poll of 16 critics, academics and broadcasters from all over Germany of their top ten recommendations -- the prestigious Süddeutsche Zeitung/NDR "Bestenliste" (list of the best) -- DIE MAUER was voted Number 1 for March 2009.

Click here to buy DIE MAUER from amazon.de

The French translation of Fred's book on the Berlin Wall (Le Mur de Berlin, published by JC Lattes) has been awarded the Prix Grand temoin de la France, which will be presented at the Assemblee Nationale, Paris, on 5.11.09. To purchase go to http://www.amazon.fr/mur-berlin-Frederick-Taylor/dp/270962737X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256762023&sr=1-1


© 2007-2013 Frederick Taylor