Cold War Berlin: An Island City

Volume 1

The Birth of the Cold War, the Communist Take-Over and the Berlin Airlift, 1945-1949

Volume 2

The Berlin Wall, 1950-1961

by Andrew Long

Publisher: Helion and Company

Paperbacks, each 96 pages, 8” x 11.5”, 100 photos, maps, profiles.

Reviewed by Don DeNevi

Publisher’s Summary: Volume 1

“Cold War Berlin: An Island City” is the story of how Stalin imposed his iron will over eastern Germany, and how he tried to squeeze his former allies out by cutting off their lives of supply and blockading the city. It examines the logistical miracle of the Berlin Airlift, which fed and heated a city of over two million people for almost eleven months. It is a story of alliances forged in the uncertainty of conflict, based on common interests and pragmatic convenience, alliances that would shape the twentieth century but would be betrayed for strategic or political reasons. It is also the tale of how competing ideologies came face to face in the city of Berlin, and the new “Cold War” that would come to dominate the second half of the 20th century.

Publisher’s Summary: Volume 2

From the moment the DDR was formed in 1949, many of its citizens chose to leave to start a new life in the West. By the mid-1950’s, the trickle had turned into a flood as large numbers rejected Walter ULbricht’s Communist paradise. His “Workers’ & Peasants’ State” could not afford to lose the skills and productivity from these key workers, so he proposed a radical solution – – physically stop them leaving by fencing in the whole population. This book explores the background and build-up to the monumental decision, reviewing the dramatic geo-political developments of the 1950s and early 1960s as international tensions threatened the post-war peace. Berlin was becoming the front-line in the new Cold War.

Review: Pommeled and pulverized, Berlin, barely alive, asked for a cease-fire. At 1 am on May 2, 1945, having survived its own holocaust, the city, like the entire German nation, craved peace as never before, especially now as the vanquished. No matter, some argued, that the survivors of the nightmare bequeathed their vanquishers the disastrous consequences of 1919, the same aftermath of World War 1, its darkness and despair. Short of armed conflict, a moratorium on economic prosperity and political peace for Europe was inevitable. Red and defiant, Stalin, with his finger on the trigger of a growing arsenal, dropped a curtain of iron across Europe, from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea. The continent was suddenly divided in two, an East and a West, one communistic, the other free and democratic.

Now, in two exemplary volumes, each, a slightly oversized 96 page softcover illustrated with 70 to 100 b/w phots, color profiles and maps, is a treasure-trove, a compendium, of easy to digest summary information for more advanced reading. When read back to back as renowned British author Andrew Long intended, it’s realized no better comprehensive panoramic perspective of the Cold War has thus far been published.

In a straightforward, unemotional narrative style, the opening chapters of Volume One place the reader over the once defiant German nation and its majestic Berlin of several million to observe for oneself how consumed with fire by its own acts of aggression it struggled, scathed and scorched, from May 3, 1945 until the birth of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on April 4, 1949, to rise in youthful freshness as the new Europe’s rampart against communism.

In both volumes, all is introduced, described in detail, and documented. Adversaries on both sides of the virtually impenetrable Iron Curtain are ushered in accompanied by bold frontpage headlines forged themselves. The communist chill they ordered, so surreal and shocking that the Allies had to defend against and fight back; the complicated, entangled, often deadly intrigue; and mysterious plots and schemes to contrive and accomplish the takeover of Western Europe are all inferred, described and documented.

A heartfelt recommendation is to couple Andrew Long’s masterful two volumes with two additional equally superior books, one published, the other soon to be: John Grehan’s riveting, “The Berlin Airlift – – The World’s Largest Ever Air Supply Operation” (Pen and Sword Publishers), and Casemate’s forthcoming “Capital of Spies – – Intelligence Agencies in Berlin During the Cold War”, by Sven Kellerhoff. Combining the four books will present the closest definitive appreciative awareness of those tumultuous years ever made public.

Ratings– – 5 stars

Historical accuracy – – 5 stars

Details – – 4 ½ stars

Overall rating – – 5 stars

Overall % rating – – 5 stars

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