Review: Checkmate in Berlin

Review- Book Title and Subtitle

“Checkmate In Berlin – – The Cold War Showdown That Shaped The Modern World”

Reviewed by Don DeNevi

With Hitler’s body soaked in petrol and burning in a common ditch outside the besieged Fuhrerbunker in the late afternoon of April 30th, 1945, Traudle Junge, Adolf’s last private secretary, supposedly overheard Josef Goebbels mutter to wife, Magda, “He appointed me chancellor. The damage to our cities is colossal and ghastly. Germany is to be turned into a potato field, our youth deported to Russia as slave labor, reparations paid all our lives. It would be better to be slaughtered.”

After Hitler, what? Berlin was ravaged. Not a single building of use existed with a roof. Would the Russki soldat and Allied soldier fight to the bitter end for emaciated survivors, homeless refugees, a dead country and its flattened cities? Who can save and heal half a divided, severely wounded Europe?

Who, among the battered and exhausted, would accept the massive challenge? Especially when the Soviet Union refused to join the alliance to reconstruct a better postwar world by draping a curtain across the continent.

In the tradition of great reportage, Giles Milton, the internationally bestselling author of narrative history, via his nonpareil “Checkmate In Berlin – – The Cold War Showdown That Shaped The Modern World” places the reader as an eye-witness to history with the gloss and luster removed. 

In chapter after chapter, from the race between the Soviets and Allies to seize Berlin in the aftermath to World War II to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April, 1949, we are privy to the murky intrigues and suspicious events occurring during the rebuilding of the metropolis.  With extraordinary skill, the principal characters, American, British, Soviet, pro-Soviet Germans, Berliners and Germans, are portrayed as clearly as they originally were. Like them, we gaze incredulously at what was four years of tumultuous political divisiveness, disunity, and dismay unlike any other period of time in the 20th century.


Readability – – 5 stars

Historical accuracy – – 5 stars

Details – – 4.5 stars

Overall rating – – 5 stars

About the Author-Giles Milton: 

About the Publisher- Henry Holt and Company, 2021


Readability- three to five stars
Historical Accuracy- three to five stars
Historical Value- three to five stars
Details- three to five stars
Overall Rating – three to five stars and a number 75-100