The Berlin Wall


Updated 30th Anniversary Edition 31 October 2019

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.

Reviews for The Berlin Wall

“Superb, fast-paced and readable history … this important book reminds us of a dangerous age.”

Evening Standard

"This is a fine book, perfectly balanced between historical analysis and lively anecdote and written with great verve."

Giles McDonogh, The Literary Review 

”Combines serious historical research with an assured, gripping narrative … Taylor’s extraordinary narrative skill – with the pacing of a thriller and immediacy of reportage – is at its best.”

Irish Times

“[A] gripping, impassioned history of the cold war’s most malevolent symbol … Mr. Taylor, the author of ‘Dresden,’ does a great service in carefully separating myth from reality, symbol from substance as he traces the history of the wall …”

New York Times