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"Fascinating--and it is all true!"-- FREDERICK FORSYTH, author The Day of the Jackal Washington Post: "A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era." Hailed by The New York Times Book Review, Alan Furst, Bill Moyers, Alex Kershaw, Kai Bird, and more. A thrilling Cold War narrative exploring two harrowing attempts to rescue "Fascinating--and it is all true!"-- FREDERICK FORSYTH, author The Day of the Jackal Washington Post: "A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era." Hailed by The New York Times Book Review, Alan Furst, Bill Moyers, Alex Kershaw, Kai Bird, and more. A thrilling Cold War narrative exploring two harrowing attempts to rescue East Germans by tunneling beneath the Berlin Wall, the U.S. television networks who financed and filmed them, and the Kennedy administration's unprecedented attempt to suppress both films.   In the summer of 1962, one year after East German Communists built the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans came up with a plan. They would risk prison, Stasi torture, even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Among the tunnelers and escape helpers were a legendary cyclist, an American student from Stanford, and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel.               Then two U.S. television networks, NBC and CBS, heard about the secret projects, and raced to be first to air a spectacular "inside tunnel" special on the human will for freedom. The networks funded two separate tunnels in return for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries.            Unfolding week by week, sometimes hour by hour, Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative deftly cuts back and forth from one extraordinary character to another.  There's the tunneler who had already served four years in the East German gulag; the Stasi informer who betrays the "CBS tunnel"; the young East Berliner who escapes with her baby, then marries one of the tunnelers; and broadcast legend Daniel Schorr, who battled unsuccessfully to save his film from White House interference and remained bitter about it to the end of his life. Looming over all is John F. Kennedy, who was ambivalent about--even hostile toward-- the escape operations.  Kennedy confessed to Dean Rusk:  "We don't care about East Berlin."       Based on extensive access to the Stasi archives, long-secret U.S. documents, and new interviews with tunnelers and refugees, The Tunnels provides both rich history and high suspense.  Award-winning journalist Mitchell captures the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners; the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police; U.S. networks prepared to "pay for play" yet willing to cave to official pressure; and a White House and State Department eager to suppress historic coverage. The result is "breaking history," a propulsive read whose themes reverberate even today. Optioned by FilmNation for a movie with Paul Greengrass attached to direct.


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"Fascinating--and it is all true!"-- FREDERICK FORSYTH, author The Day of the Jackal Washington Post: "A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era." Hailed by The New York Times Book Review, Alan Furst, Bill Moyers, Alex Kershaw, Kai Bird, and more. A thrilling Cold War narrative exploring two harrowing attempts to rescue "Fascinating--and it is all true!"-- FREDERICK FORSYTH, author The Day of the Jackal Washington Post: "A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era." Hailed by The New York Times Book Review, Alan Furst, Bill Moyers, Alex Kershaw, Kai Bird, and more. A thrilling Cold War narrative exploring two harrowing attempts to rescue East Germans by tunneling beneath the Berlin Wall, the U.S. television networks who financed and filmed them, and the Kennedy administration's unprecedented attempt to suppress both films.   In the summer of 1962, one year after East German Communists built the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans came up with a plan. They would risk prison, Stasi torture, even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Among the tunnelers and escape helpers were a legendary cyclist, an American student from Stanford, and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel.               Then two U.S. television networks, NBC and CBS, heard about the secret projects, and raced to be first to air a spectacular "inside tunnel" special on the human will for freedom. The networks funded two separate tunnels in return for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries.            Unfolding week by week, sometimes hour by hour, Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative deftly cuts back and forth from one extraordinary character to another.  There's the tunneler who had already served four years in the East German gulag; the Stasi informer who betrays the "CBS tunnel"; the young East Berliner who escapes with her baby, then marries one of the tunnelers; and broadcast legend Daniel Schorr, who battled unsuccessfully to save his film from White House interference and remained bitter about it to the end of his life. Looming over all is John F. Kennedy, who was ambivalent about--even hostile toward-- the escape operations.  Kennedy confessed to Dean Rusk:  "We don't care about East Berlin."       Based on extensive access to the Stasi archives, long-secret U.S. documents, and new interviews with tunnelers and refugees, The Tunnels provides both rich history and high suspense.  Award-winning journalist Mitchell captures the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners; the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police; U.S. networks prepared to "pay for play" yet willing to cave to official pressure; and a White House and State Department eager to suppress historic coverage. The result is "breaking history," a propulsive read whose themes reverberate even today. Optioned by FilmNation for a movie with Paul Greengrass attached to direct.

30 review for The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A few weeks ago the Facebook page for The Tunnels shared this post: "Monica Crowley, Trump's pick today as a top National Security adviser, tweeted quite seriously "Walls work" a few months ago in standing in front of and endorsing Berlin Wall (with this photo of her below)." I had been reading The Tunnels for over a week when I saw this post. First, it was a nonsensible quip since the Berlin Wall was meant to keep citizens in East Germany, not to keep people from entering East Germany. And the A few weeks ago the Facebook page for The Tunnels shared this post: "Monica Crowley, Trump's pick today as a top National Security adviser, tweeted quite seriously "Walls work" a few months ago in standing in front of and endorsing Berlin Wall (with this photo of her below)." I had been reading The Tunnels for over a week when I saw this post. First, it was a nonsensible quip since the Berlin Wall was meant to keep citizens in East Germany, not to keep people from entering East Germany. And the wall that President-elect Trump has proposed is meant to keep foreigners out and not to keep Americans in America. But it also showed how little we remember the Berlin Wall and the war zone it created--the young people, trapped in East Germany, desperate to join family or to continue their university studies, who tried to climb over the wall only to be shot by Soviet guards. East German boys were instructed to open fire on their own people; those who wanted to leave East Germany were made into criminals, and the East German news media covered up the truth behind the shootings. I don't see how the wall "worked." Greg Mitchell's book is the story of the brave men and women dedicated to bringing people out form East Germany. It is the story of American newsmen who recognized the Berlin Wall was the story of the decade and who wanted to document the building of escape tunnels. It is also the story of President Kennedy juggling the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Wall , endeavoring to prevent the nuclear war that some thought inevitable. If America attacked Cuba, and the Soviets attacked West Berlin, America would be drawn into nuclear war. Kennedy said of the military, "These brass hats have one great advantage in their favor. If we listen to them, ad do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell the that they were wrong." We were that close. I was inspired by the selfless heroism of the men and women who risked their lives to help people escape East Germany. I was interested in how NBC and CBS fought to have their films of tunnel building and escapees brought to television. The White House used political pressure to suppress the films as damaging to American-Soviet relations. And I was appalled to read that in a 2009 poll early half of eastern Germans believed that the former state had 'more good sides than bad.' I appreciate a book that is a great historical read that also sheds new light on events we are forgetting. It is even better when the subject is also of contemporary relevance. Walls have been going up across the world. Mitchell's book reminds us that walls do not solve our problems. I received a free book through Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Do you ever read the description and think you can handle it? Then when you pick up the book, you get an eery feeling when you read inside, "A NOTE TO READERS". Well, this happened to me when I picked up "The Tunnels". This is not to say that I did not find a hint of humor in the writing that at times was very graphic. I actually thought the example of Adam and Eve was going to be humorous but instead it turned out to be a daunting reminder. I wanted so much from this read and early on it hit me. Do you ever read the description and think you can handle it? Then when you pick up the book, you get an eery feeling when you read inside, "A NOTE TO READERS". Well, this happened to me when I picked up "The Tunnels". This is not to say that I did not find a hint of humor in the writing that at times was very graphic. I actually thought the example of Adam and Eve was going to be humorous but instead it turned out to be a daunting reminder. I wanted so much from this read and early on it hit me. I'm not 10 pages in... and yet I am having difficulty. The realization is, even when I complete this story...this compilation of accounts of the Cold War... there is not a thing I can change. Frankly, I have never faced the inclination to escape and the only time I have seen jumpers, is footage of people fleeing burning buildings. And as I read these accounts and weep, I think this was indeed a "Street of Tears". When you pull and push dirt with purpose, to create a pathway, it's possible you may not realize how exhausting and terrifying it can be. I mean, if your purpose is to save another, perhaps it all becomes a blur and the sound of noisy tools goes unnoticed. With a gain of only 6 feet a day, promises to watch each others back and the fear of lettings others down are likely things you'd have to acknowledge. One can only hope if ever in a position remotely similar to this that one would wait in silence and be steadfast in the knowledge that somewhere in the distance rings the bells of freedom. Reviewed for Blogging for Books

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    This was a very informative book about a dark time for the city of Berlin, Germany. The book opens with an overview of why the Berlin wall was built in 1961. The national border of East Germany was tightly guarded, but the sector border with West Berlin was very porous. From the late 1940s to 1961 about 2.8 million East Germans fled to the West. Most of them came to the West via Berlin, That number was almost 20% of E. Germany's population and a high concentration of its skilled professionals. In This was a very informative book about a dark time for the city of Berlin, Germany. The book opens with an overview of why the Berlin wall was built in 1961. The national border of East Germany was tightly guarded, but the sector border with West Berlin was very porous. From the late 1940s to 1961 about 2.8 million East Germans fled to the West. Most of them came to the West via Berlin, That number was almost 20% of E. Germany's population and a high concentration of its skilled professionals. In the beginning, when the barrier was just barbed wire, many people were able to escape, but then the wall was built. This led to people building tunnels under the wall. The author has done a great deal of research, interviewing many of the tunnel builders and NBC and CBS reporters/executives who contributed money towards 2 tunnels in return for filming rights. Then US President Kennedy actively worked behind the scenes to prevent airing of CBS and NBC tunnel documentaries. The author also was able to interview some of the US officials involved in this coverup. At the end of the book, the author talks about current walls, i.e., Israel's Palestinian wall, United States' partial Mexican wall, which are there to keep people out; as opposed to the Berlin Wall, designed to keep people in. I rate this book a solid 4 stars. If you are interested in Cold War history this is a good book for you to read. I received this book from the publisher through LibraryThing in return for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I enjoyed this book a lot when it stuck to the story of the Berlin wall and the brave attempts of the many people who tried to escape from the East after the Wall was built. To be honest, I never even noticed the second half of this title when I picked it up to read as I was completely enthralled by the idea of learning about those escapes. I vividly remember seeing so many men and woman making daring leaps for freedom when I was a young girl. Some made it; many failed and were shot by East Germ I enjoyed this book a lot when it stuck to the story of the Berlin wall and the brave attempts of the many people who tried to escape from the East after the Wall was built. To be honest, I never even noticed the second half of this title when I picked it up to read as I was completely enthralled by the idea of learning about those escapes. I vividly remember seeing so many men and woman making daring leaps for freedom when I was a young girl. Some made it; many failed and were shot by East German guards and lay dying in the "no man's land" in the middle. It's easy to recall those horrible black and white images. So when the book diverted into a long drawn out tale about JFK trying to control the press and stop CBS and, eventually, NBC from showing the films they made of the tunnellers, I was irritated. I am sure the author's intent was to show the larger political state of the time and he did make a kind of super connection between the showdown in the Cuban missile crisis and the circumstances in Berlin. The Russians were hoping, of course, that we would quickly exchange Berlin for Cuba and agree to leave the one in order to get the missiles out of the other. Obviously, it did not happen that way. The real importance of this story is how strongly the West Berliners did what they could to oppose the Wall and help their fellow Germans escape wherever they could. Not all, of course. Not even a majority. But a sizeable minority of young people set aside their schooling, their jobs, and even their personal relationships to dig these tunnels or sneak people out in specially rigged cars. The government of West Berlin aided them where they could and people on both sides of the border acted as guides and lookouts. Many were caught and were sent to prison and many were killed. It couldn't last forever but while it did, it was courageous and inspiring.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    First, the caveat - I received a free copy of the uncorrected proof for this book, from a Goodreads Giveaway. This was an excellent book. The Berlin Wall was erected when I was a young child, and I remember my parents talking frequently about it. My father served in the post WWII Occupying Forces in Germany, he was a history teacher before and after military service, and what happened over there continued to play a significant role in his life, and thus in the family topics. I remember the escap First, the caveat - I received a free copy of the uncorrected proof for this book, from a Goodreads Giveaway. This was an excellent book. The Berlin Wall was erected when I was a young child, and I remember my parents talking frequently about it. My father served in the post WWII Occupying Forces in Germany, he was a history teacher before and after military service, and what happened over there continued to play a significant role in his life, and thus in the family topics. I remember the escapes being celebrated, the concerns over whether the wall would be breached from the East, and all of that. The Wall came down about a year after my father died, and that was a great regret. I say this to address my interest in the topic. I am not an historian. As to the book directly, it reads like a spy novel. The author does an exceptional job at giving information and details, and the story builds upon the characters (and some were quite intriguing characters!) and the events. As the tunnels are being dug, the concerns about water, cave ins, accurate locations, and whether the escapees or Stasi would be waiting when they broke through, are just some of the intrigue. The way events unfold could have been from a fertile imagination, but they were true to life. Sometimes people got what they deserved, sometimes people got away with horrid deceits, and it wasn't just fictional imaginings. One of the things I really appreciated about the skill of the author was that he included little reminders about who a person was if they hadn't been mentioned in several pages. He'd have told about a person and their role in the tunnels, such as being a Stasi contact for informers, then 40 pages later, when that person showed up again, the author would write something like, "Herrmann, the Stasi contact for informers, went to ...". This was most helpful because readers often get lost in the lists of people in a tale of this type. So, if you have interest in history, Germany, the Berlin Wall, intrigue, spys, and good story telling, then read this book. I don't think you'll be disappointed. I surely wasn't.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I’m capping of 2016 with a review of one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year. The Tunnels is the compelling history of a city divided and plagued by the presence of the Berlin Wall. With families separated and citizens of East Berlin suffering under communist rule, many were desperate to escape to the West. When American television networks became aware of ambitious tunneling projects, they were eager to film the daring endeavors. The CBS tunnel got busted thanks to a Stasi informer I’m capping of 2016 with a review of one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year. The Tunnels is the compelling history of a city divided and plagued by the presence of the Berlin Wall. With families separated and citizens of East Berlin suffering under communist rule, many were desperate to escape to the West. When American television networks became aware of ambitious tunneling projects, they were eager to film the daring endeavors. The CBS tunnel got busted thanks to a Stasi informer who infiltrated a relief group, but the tunnel that NBC documented was a huge success, allowing 29 East Berliners to escape. However, the folks in Washington were concerned that airing the documentary would escalate tensions with the Soviets. With the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolding, the JFK administration tried to restrict the press. I didn’t realize how the situation in Berlin influenced JFK’s actions towards Cuba and how deeply he feared nuclear retaliation. Mitchell’s portrayal of Cold War tensions is well written. The most tragic story is that of Peter Fechter, the teenager who attempted to escape over the wall and was left to bleed to death in the aptly named Death Zone. His martyrdom became inspiration for the tunnelers. The chapter detailing the day of the Bernauer tunnel escape was one of the most riveting things I’ve ever read. The bravery and determination of the individuals behind the tunnel allowed so many people to gain their freedom and it was inspirational to read about. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    Received this in exchange for a review. Thank you. I was in Berlin August 1961 with my parents, and we were some of the last Americans allow access into East Berlin. Thus I really wanted to read this book. I was not disappointed. This is an excellent book on what life in the East and also West Berlin was like and to what lengths people would go to be reunited with family and loved ones. The book mainly covers one particular tunnel, the lives the workers and how they just want to be with family and Received this in exchange for a review. Thank you. I was in Berlin August 1961 with my parents, and we were some of the last Americans allow access into East Berlin. Thus I really wanted to read this book. I was not disappointed. This is an excellent book on what life in the East and also West Berlin was like and to what lengths people would go to be reunited with family and loved ones. The book mainly covers one particular tunnel, the lives the workers and how they just want to be with family and friends. It also gives info on may who made it and the sad stories of those who did not. The story is so real and well told you would not believe the work is true. In between the author has lots of back story regarding the US Government, high ranking officials in the USSR. Major television networks also were involved and a documentary.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    It's all in here-- spies, secret tunnels, heroic reporters, communists, the threat of nuclear war. The only people who come off looking bad are the East German government and the Kennedy Administration. After the Soviets put up the Wall to stop the annoying trickle of people leaving for the West, those who wanted to leave East Berlin had to find cleverer ways to get out. Swimming, diversions, hot air balloons, smuggling people out hidden in secret compartments of vehicles, and tunnels. Tunnels w It's all in here-- spies, secret tunnels, heroic reporters, communists, the threat of nuclear war. The only people who come off looking bad are the East German government and the Kennedy Administration. After the Soviets put up the Wall to stop the annoying trickle of people leaving for the West, those who wanted to leave East Berlin had to find cleverer ways to get out. Swimming, diversions, hot air balloons, smuggling people out hidden in secret compartments of vehicles, and tunnels. Tunnels were labor intensive and dangerous and required a lot of people, some of whom might be Stasi informants. But they sometimes worked and so people took the chance. When two American news teams in Berlin (NBC and CBS) found out abut specific tunnel projects, they wanted to film the work and especially the escape, knowing it would be must see TV. But the Kennedy Administration, which was actually relieved when the Wall went up because the Soviets accused the West of encouraging the West of luring the refugees over, tried to halt the TV project because they were afraid the East would be upset. There was a situation in Cuba that the Kennedy-ites were more concerned about than the Berlin refugees. While CBS knuckled under, NBC went ahead with the project and ended up paying the tunnel builders enough to finance the cost of the tunnel. This drew criticism. Meanwhile, the tunnel was always in danger of being discovered or betrayed and the resulting escape and documentary were both very dramatic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This is one of those stories that ought to be required reading for students of political science, and maybe just for an freedom-loving citizen. Those in the Communist east had applied labels to the tunnelers, their helpers, and anyone associated with those trying to escape as terrorists. The author, for the most part by my recollection, refers to the those fleeing the east as refugees. Of course, they too were criminals to the STASI. In any event, as Mitchel tells the story, one arrives at the p This is one of those stories that ought to be required reading for students of political science, and maybe just for an freedom-loving citizen. Those in the Communist east had applied labels to the tunnelers, their helpers, and anyone associated with those trying to escape as terrorists. The author, for the most part by my recollection, refers to the those fleeing the east as refugees. Of course, they too were criminals to the STASI. In any event, as Mitchel tells the story, one arrives at the point where those going from east to west exit the tunnel to, in many cases, be reunited with loved ones who got out before the wall went up. I was on the verge of tears with one particular family - the father had left his family behind with the thought to get them out later, but then the wall went up. The wife had tried escaping, but been caught and went to prison for a time. The father was part of the tunnel crew, and meets his son for the first time as he is passed up to him at the mouth of the tunnel - drama can seldom be better than that. One can watch yet today the NBC documentary done at the time - it is over an hour long, but it somehow lacks the drama of Mitchell's book. Daniel Schorr apparently resented for the rest of his life being told to stand down from the story by his network's (at US State Dept and JFK behest) direction, while NBC went ahead with 'their' tunnel. A truly interesting bit of Cold War history when placed in context with JFK, the Cuban missile crisis, and U2 skulduggery.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    A very readable history, excellently researched, telling the story of a divided Berlin, the wall that separated East and West and the courageous young West Germans who tunnelled under this obstacle at the height of the Cold War. Greg Mitchell's narrative captures the tensions of the times from the building of the wall in 1961 to its demise in 1989. A gripping chronological account of the struggles for freedom, the bravery of ordinary Berliners divided by political systems, who took great personal A very readable history, excellently researched, telling the story of a divided Berlin, the wall that separated East and West and the courageous young West Germans who tunnelled under this obstacle at the height of the Cold War. Greg Mitchell's narrative captures the tensions of the times from the building of the wall in 1961 to its demise in 1989. A gripping chronological account of the struggles for freedom, the bravery of ordinary Berliners divided by political systems, who took great personal risks to free friends and family members.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Peter Calabrese

    A very good historical account that weaves together the obvious theme of the Cold War Wall and the tunnels under it with the other major Cold War battlezone, Cuba, as well as a reported upon but lesser acknowledged assault on freedom of the press. Today the press seems politically divided and aligned while the intricacies of competition between networks and the personal political networking of the 60’s reveals a less partisan struggle for government transparency than today’s press freedom battle A very good historical account that weaves together the obvious theme of the Cold War Wall and the tunnels under it with the other major Cold War battlezone, Cuba, as well as a reported upon but lesser acknowledged assault on freedom of the press. Today the press seems politically divided and aligned while the intricacies of competition between networks and the personal political networking of the 60’s reveals a less partisan struggle for government transparency than today’s press freedom battles. A good read

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall-and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill By Greg Mitchell Synopsis "Fascinating--and it is all true!"-- FREDERICK FORSYTH, author The Day of the Jackal A thrilling Cold War narrative exploring two harrowing attempts to rescue East Germans by tunneling beneath the Berlin Wall, the U.S. television networks who financed and filmed them, and the Kennedy administration's unprecedented attempt to suppress both films. In the summer of 1962, one yea The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall-and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill By Greg Mitchell Synopsis "Fascinating--and it is all true!"-- FREDERICK FORSYTH, author The Day of the Jackal A thrilling Cold War narrative exploring two harrowing attempts to rescue East Germans by tunneling beneath the Berlin Wall, the U.S. television networks who financed and filmed them, and the Kennedy administration's unprecedented attempt to suppress both films. In the summer of 1962, one year after East German Communists built the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans came up with a plan. They would risk prison, Stasi torture, even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Among the tunnelers and escape helpers were a legendary cyclist, an American student from Stanford, and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel. Then two U.S. television networks, NBC and CBS, heard about the secret projects, and raced to be first to air a spectacular "inside tunnel" special on the human will for freedom. The networks funded two separate tunnels in return for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries. Unfolding week by week, sometimes hour by hour, Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative deftly cuts back and forth from one extraordinary character to another. There's the tunneler who had already served four years in the East German gulag; the Stasi informer who betrays the "CBS tunnel"; the young East Berliner who escapes with her baby, then marries one of the tunnelers; and broadcast legend Daniel Schorr, who battled unsuccessfully to save his film from White House interference and remained bitter about it to the end of his life. Looming over all is John F. Kennedy, who was ambivalent about--even hostile toward-- the escape operations. Kennedy confessed to Dean Rusk: "We don't care about East Berlin." Based on extensive access to the Stasi archives, long-secret U.S. documents, and new interviews with tunnelers and refugees, The Tunnels provides both rich history and high suspense. Award-winning journalist Mitchell captures the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners; the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police; U.S. networks prepared to "pay for play" yet willing to cave to official pressure; and a White House and State Department eager to suppress historic coverage. The result is "breaking history," a propulsive read whose themes reverberate even today. Optioned by FilmNation for a movie with Paul Greengrass attached to direct. Review The Berlin Wall, has always fascinated me. I remember doing a school project, when I was 10 on Germany and discovered Berlin was partitioned by a wall, that separated friends and family. On discussing this with my father, I was horrified to learn about the many failed escape attempts of East Berlin citizens - desperate for new lives and the freedom of choice - that only came from living in the west. Journalist Greg Mitchell writes a factual account that reads like a Tom Clancy novel, set in the midst of the cold war, the East Germans segregated the population of Berlin by a wall - complete with razor wire armed guards, attack dogs and land mines. Mitchell uses interviews and archival records to recreate a tense and factual account. Its a story about the abuse of political power and how people risked imprisonment and their lives for a cause they believed in. This is a fascinating look at a bleak and dangerous period in German history. Highly recommended. 4 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    David

    In my sight, a well-told story but spent a little too long expressing its displeasure at the administration of John F. Kennedy and the US Department of State for my taste. I understand the neither was or is a shining beacon of freedom. The author wants to present US government bureaucrats as villains. I can understand why. It is surely a sincerely held opinion for the author, with plenty of evidence to back it up. In addition, nobody wants to read a book about how US government bureaucrats, for In my sight, a well-told story but spent a little too long expressing its displeasure at the administration of John F. Kennedy and the US Department of State for my taste. I understand the neither was or is a shining beacon of freedom. The author wants to present US government bureaucrats as villains. I can understand why. It is surely a sincerely held opinion for the author, with plenty of evidence to back it up. In addition, nobody wants to read a book about how US government bureaucrats, for once, got something right. Where's the drama in that? On the other hand, journalists, while no longer possessing the unalloyed saintly aura of former days, can still be believably presented as relatively selfless seekers of truth. Unfortunately, I found the story could be subject to various interpretations. The author's interpretation is, I concede, one of them. But another could easily be that ambitious journalists placed personal advancement over the safety of their sources, egging heartbroken innocents (meaning, the tunnel diggers and prospective escapees) on to risk their lives for the sake of obtaining dramatic film footage and a handful of Deutchmarks. Meanwhile, the government bureaucrats spoke tedious and undramatic truth to a bunch of knuckleheaded adventurers and self-seeking careerists. For their trouble, the bureaucrats are portrayed as a bunch of spineless cookie-pushers who were insufficiently interested in freedom. I'm going to describe a story that occurs up through Chapter 9 of this 18-chapter (plus epilogue) book, but I don't think that my description will contain any pleasure-ruining spoilers. A bunch of idealistic and well-meaning amateurs (not only not professional spies, but also not possessing relevant skills in engineering or construction) start an elaborate tunnel project with the laudable goal of freeing captive East Berliners. The elaborate tunnel project runs into various delays, including leaking water mains. Meanwhile, the number of people who wish to get out using the as-yet-uncompleted tunnel grows, leading to the project become a less-and-less-tightly-held secret on both sides of the wall. Inevitably, one of the growing number of people who know something about the operation includes an informant for the Stasi, the famously deadly and humorless East German secret police (who, while certainly not portrayed as heroes, do not seem to inspire the same level of high dudgeon in the author). Meanwhile, interest by US television has caused the operation to come to the attention of the diplomats and spies at the US diplomatic mission. The naive informants are shocked that the diplomats are less than thrilled at the news, and are not ready to throw shovels and buckets at the project. This is where the author can intimate a lack of interest in freedom compared with bureaucratic posterior-covering. The author can also maintain that, since US diplomats and spies did not know the specific identities of those involved in the plot, they could not possibly have anticipated that the plot would fail spectacularly (which it did). Therefore, their objections revealed the dips and spies to be mendacious hypocrites. I maintain that the diplomats may or may not have entertained a healthy interest in freedom but they probably knew what a disaster looked like when it was speeding toward them. The diplomats and spies did not need to know the specific identities and political leanings of conspirators to know that, once a conspiracy gets big enough, the chance of a weak link becomes great enough that failure is almost certainly guaranteed. It doesn't take dramatic spywork or mysterious informants to know this. Knowing it is simply actuarial knowledge, like knowing that, while the time of any individual's death is unpredictable, a certain number of people within a group are likely to die in a set period of time. Unsurprisingly, once the diplomats and spies knew this disaster was in the works, they tried to stop it. I like to think that they actually cared about lambs being sent to the slaughter in this fashion. However, in addition, I'm sure they also knew that a major diplomatic incident in their bailiwick would doubtlessly result in unpleasant late nights and weekends at the office. And, while we're speculating about the motives of long-dead people who are not in a position to confirm or deny, let's remember that they did not have the benefit of hindsight. It's easy from this distance to make the reader think that government operatives were cowardly, because we know that a nuclear holocaust will not happen. They didn't. It wasn't unreasonable to suppose, at that time, that some Berlin-Wall-jumper could end up being the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the end of the world. Our selfless and baser motives are often mixed thus, I have found. In any event, the US government's intervention eventually led, via the old-boy Ivy-League network back in the US, to the TV network getting leaned on, which is presented as an outrageous affront to liberty. Although it is not the nation's proudest moment, I was not outraged. I felt that, if it might save someone's life, the USG could crap all over a network's correspondent's big scoop for all I cared. My sleep would remain undisturbed. As stated above, it's not just the US Mission in Berlin that gets abuse here – the entire Kennedy administration seems to get the same treatment. Sometimes I felt as if the author thought the reader was too dense to get the point, and had to engage in name-calling to make sure the reader maintained the right attitude. For example, at one point (Kindle location 2668), the author felt then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk was “peeved”, a word choice that I think does not put Rusk in the most flattering light. In fact, it makes him seem like a spoiled child. Did he act like a spoiled child? Show me, don't tell me. I don't like to be told what to think. One day later: oh yeah, forgot to include that this was a free ebook galley proof. Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    The Tunnels tells the history of several escapes under the Berlin Wall and the NBC documentary The Tunnel that chronicled one of the most successful tunnel escapes. It is pure history with no fictionalized dialogue, yet it remains as suspenseful as any spy thriller, not least because it is all true. This book is thrilling, fast-paced, and suspenseful. The action in the first chapter was so fast and furious I wondered what was left for the rest of the book. No worries, there was plenty. Replete wi The Tunnels tells the history of several escapes under the Berlin Wall and the NBC documentary The Tunnel that chronicled one of the most successful tunnel escapes. It is pure history with no fictionalized dialogue, yet it remains as suspenseful as any spy thriller, not least because it is all true. This book is thrilling, fast-paced, and suspenseful. The action in the first chapter was so fast and furious I wondered what was left for the rest of the book. No worries, there was plenty. Replete with spycraft, secret couriers, Stasi spies and infiltrators, and the bold tunnelers, there is no shortage of heroes and villains. Add the Cuban Missile Crisis, network competition, and some embarrassingly low behavior by CBS and there is suspense before, during, and well after the tunnel escapes. Thanks to pressure from the Kennedy Administration and an overly compliant and competitive press, NBC was vilified for pursuing the documentary of the tunnel escape and pressured into postponing its broadcast. It eventually did broadcast to critical and commercial success and the same government that tried to suppress it was airing it overseas as part of the USIA. The Tunnels is a great success, not just in terms of telling an exciting, suspenseful story, but also of engaging readers emotionally. It is a reminder that we are not meant to build walls. I remember watching in awed surprise when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, sinking to my knees in front of the television and touching the screen, as though I had to touch it to believe it was real. I cried then and reading about it again in The Tunnels, I cried again. The Wall was such a disgrace, a scar on humanity and perhaps some of my tears came from acknowledging my own country’s eagerness to build a wall, another scar revealing some deep infection in our national bloodstream. The Tunnels is also meticulously researched with data from Stasi files, Kennedy Administration recordings, personal papers, documents, declassified government files, and personal interviews. Everyone is real and so are the conversations. It is a book that proves that history does not need to fictionalized or dramatized to be fascinating and exciting. Whether you love liberty or just love a great adventure, The Tunnels will be worth reading. It is useful to remember that liberty is something that needs to be claimed, not assumed, nor taken for granted. I was provided a copy of The Tunnels through the Blogging For Books program. https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill Taken from interviews, declassified files, film footage and Stasi archives the author chronicles how determined the Russians were to stem the tide of refugees crossing over, digging under and even crashing through the Berlin Wall. Harry Seidel, an East German cyclist is the central figure who helped love ones and dozen to freedom. After people died trying to escape, with the help of many workers he began his fi Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill Taken from interviews, declassified files, film footage and Stasi archives the author chronicles how determined the Russians were to stem the tide of refugees crossing over, digging under and even crashing through the Berlin Wall. Harry Seidel, an East German cyclist is the central figure who helped love ones and dozen to freedom. After people died trying to escape, with the help of many workers he began his first tunnel into enemy territory. Meanwhile “The Girrmann group made fake passports and hid refugees in cars in the hope of crossing check points undetected. Not an easy task when on the other side you had the Stati and their thousands of spies and moles ready to give you up. While this is going on, a savvy media executive bankrolled in part their activities for a network exclusive…NBC and CBS were in competition to secure the rights to film a tunnel escape for the audience back home. Although, the White House tried to put a lid on it in the interest of politics and avoiding a nuclear war they did not succeed in the long run. On Dec 10, 1962 NBC audience were greeted with a 90 minute documentary film. “The Tunnels” is a detailed true account and a kaleidoscopic cold war story from the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis on year later. Mr. Mitchell has quickly won my attention with his tense descriptions and dramatic moments. This book is exciting, fast-paced and suspenseful. Each chapter is fast and furious and filled with spy craft, spies, infiltrators, bold tunnelers and numerous heroes and villains. A pause to remember….. This is one emotionally engaging book and an excellent read. I received this book from “Blogging for Books” via NetGalleys for an honest and unbiased review

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This is an absorbing story about the idealistic and brave/foolhardy men and women who dug tunnels under the Berlin Wall and carried messages to would-be escapees, risking prison or death to help those trapped on the other side. It also is the story of the Kennedy Administration trying to control the press while dealing with Soviet missiles in Cuba and the possibility of nuclear war. The Berlin Wall divided families and friends in Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Most of the action in the book takes plac This is an absorbing story about the idealistic and brave/foolhardy men and women who dug tunnels under the Berlin Wall and carried messages to would-be escapees, risking prison or death to help those trapped on the other side. It also is the story of the Kennedy Administration trying to control the press while dealing with Soviet missiles in Cuba and the possibility of nuclear war. The Berlin Wall divided families and friends in Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Most of the action in the book takes place in 1962, when East Berliners were jumping from buildings and dodging bullets to swim the river or try to scale the wall. Mitchell dedicated the book to Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old who tried to escape that summer, but was shot by the East German border guards, who watched him bleed to death. The book discusses multiple tunnels but gives the most attention to the one that was the most successful and which was the subject of a controversial NBC documentary. At points it is quite suspenseful as the tunnel diggers work in shifts around the clock and cope with claustrophobic conditions made worse by leaking water pipes. Their work is remarkable for its sheer difficulty and for the fact that they knew it might come to nothing--informants were a constant risk. The NBC documentary was notable because the network paid the tunnelers for exclusive rights, thus helping fund their project, and because the Kennedy Administration tried to stop its showing, and in fact succeeded in having its air date delayed. The fear was that it might provoke the Soviets. As is the case today, the White House had definite ideas about what the press should and should not be saying and was obsessed with leaks. If you like the book, you definitely should watch the NBC video, which is available on the NBC News web site: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news... .

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com

    The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall-and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell is a non-fiction book about the infamous Berlin Wall and the tunnels being dug during the Cold War. Mr. Mitchell has wrote many non-fiction books on US politics and history. The book supplies is a thrilling narrative, written in an exciting format exploring the attempts to rescue East Germans by building tunnels under the Berlin wall. The book specifically follows two attempts and The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall-and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell is a non-fiction book about the infamous Berlin Wall and the tunnels being dug during the Cold War. Mr. Mitchell has wrote many non-fiction books on US politics and history. The book supplies is a thrilling narrative, written in an exciting format exploring the attempts to rescue East Germans by building tunnels under the Berlin wall. The book specifically follows two attempts and the international politics during the time. When the Soviets put up the Berlin wall to “protect” the East Germans, the Kennedy administration actually breathed a sigh of relief because they were being accused of luring people to the west. Those who wanted to come to the West had to find creative means to do so including swimming, making a run for it, being smuggled out, hot air balloons and, of course, tunnels. The tunnels needed much corporation though. The authorities in West Berlin had to turn a blind eye, whoever had the tunnel’s end in East Berlin needed to be brave and accept that they could be arrested any day (families included), and of course fit people to manually, and quietly, dig hundreds of yards. The author tells the story of the two tunnels incorporating the diggers, spies, an American TV network that sponsored a tunnel along with the rights to film the work and rescue (under strict secrecy), the Kennedy administration’s dilemma of how to handle the refugees while dealing with Russian politics. For more reviews and bookish thoughts please visit http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I was concerned that this was going to be a tough one to slough through. As a 90’s kid (specifically 1991) I have no real emotional attachment or memory of the Berlin Wall. You have that standard universal knowledge that there was a wall, and someone told some Russian to tear it down.(I Googled it, Reagan to Gorbachev) Other than that I didn’t have much starting knowledge. My other fear was that it was a nonfiction book, and therefore boring. As an ardent historical fiction reader, I tend to st I was concerned that this was going to be a tough one to slough through. As a 90’s kid (specifically 1991) I have no real emotional attachment or memory of the Berlin Wall. You have that standard universal knowledge that there was a wall, and someone told some Russian to tear it down.(I Googled it, Reagan to Gorbachev) Other than that I didn’t have much starting knowledge. My other fear was that it was a nonfiction book, and therefore boring. As an ardent historical fiction reader, I tend to stay away from the nonfiction. This one blew me out of the water. With author Greg Mitchell’s use of the narrative voice, I found myself being drawn into the story. Instead of simply a black and white story, Mitchell has formed all these facts into a multi faceted gem that takes all these different nations’ and governments’ views and hands you a story. He doesn’t just stop there, instead of leaving readers in the past, he brings them forward to present time to compare it to modern day walls. Though today we spend more time talking about keeping people out with our walls(i.e. Trump) rather than the East Germany goal of keeping them in. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes history and a good spy novel. Though it’s nonfiction I think this is going to rank very high on my list of favorites. I’m going to have to go back and give nonfiction another try and definitely anything by Greg Mitchell will be on the list. I rarely give books 5-stars, yet this one had me intrigued from the first chapter. *This book was provided by BloggingForBooks and Crown Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    Not exactly what I expected. Not an action-packed and suspenseful adventure story of brave "partisans" digging under the Berlin Wall, right under the noses of the Stasi, and bringing out Germans from the eastern/Soviet zone. Will they make it?? Well, there is some of that but a bigger part of the story chronicles the attempts of American television companies to document the tunnel-building and escapes on film. Daniel Schorr started the movement but was shut down by his boss at CBS calling from D Not exactly what I expected. Not an action-packed and suspenseful adventure story of brave "partisans" digging under the Berlin Wall, right under the noses of the Stasi, and bringing out Germans from the eastern/Soviet zone. Will they make it?? Well, there is some of that but a bigger part of the story chronicles the attempts of American television companies to document the tunnel-building and escapes on film. Daniel Schorr started the movement but was shut down by his boss at CBS calling from Dean Rusk's office. And when NBC actually did film another tunnel building and escape, the showing was postponed--and almost scotched--by pressure from the JFK administration, thinking this would be bad PR. And all this is right in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis with Berlin a pawn in the negotiations. (along with antiquated atomic weapons in Turkey, of course). Still, a compelling story with character profiles from interviews and recently released records; story line is certainly information, especially in terms of the political climate in the early 60s; fascinating details about the escapes and the tunnels conveyed in a detail-rich, direct, journalistic style; and a gritty, thoughtful tone. Informative, political, compelling for those with an interest in the Cold War--that time and place. And, of course, it underlines the uselessness of trying to keep folks in with a wall. Lee does a great job with the narration in his precise British diction. Even correctly pronounces Berlin's river, the Spree (Spray)! A major coup!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a brilliant examination of the time period just prior to the construction of the Berlin Wall all the way up until it was finally demolished in the name of freedom. The author focuses on the ordinary people who risked their lives and freedom to dig tunnels under the wall to help others from East Berlin escape to freedom in the West. Interspersed throughout are accounts of what was going on elsewhere in the world and how those events impacted the United States policies regarding Berlin, in This is a brilliant examination of the time period just prior to the construction of the Berlin Wall all the way up until it was finally demolished in the name of freedom. The author focuses on the ordinary people who risked their lives and freedom to dig tunnels under the wall to help others from East Berlin escape to freedom in the West. Interspersed throughout are accounts of what was going on elsewhere in the world and how those events impacted the United States policies regarding Berlin, including efforts by our government to quash any films depicting the successful tunnel endeavors. This was an insightful look at a turning point in world history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Walker

    A powerful book on the brave men and women who dug the tunnels that freed many from East Berlin to West Berlin. Stories of them and of the brave East Berliners that made the underground trip to freedom. Told by the diggers, the people they saved and by released documents that show the double agents with the Stasi that betrayed, killed and arrested them. What is most interesting is the story of how CBS and NBC vied to bring documentaries of these tunnels to the American only to be silenced by not t A powerful book on the brave men and women who dug the tunnels that freed many from East Berlin to West Berlin. Stories of them and of the brave East Berliners that made the underground trip to freedom. Told by the diggers, the people they saved and by released documents that show the double agents with the Stasi that betrayed, killed and arrested them. What is most interesting is the story of how CBS and NBC vied to bring documentaries of these tunnels to the American only to be silenced by not the Nixon administration but John Kennedy's, with his approval. A must history of the Cold War at it's coldest.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melinda M

    The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall-and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell gives details to a dark but exciting time in the history of the Cold War and the city of Berlin. IT is well written and researched. It gives the details that history textbooks ignores. It also gives a view of JFK trying to control information. It is a wonderful addition to any history book collection especially those interested in the Cold War, JFK.German history, and/or Berlin hi The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall-and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell gives details to a dark but exciting time in the history of the Cold War and the city of Berlin. IT is well written and researched. It gives the details that history textbooks ignores. It also gives a view of JFK trying to control information. It is a wonderful addition to any history book collection especially those interested in the Cold War, JFK.German history, and/or Berlin history. I received this book thru a Goodreads giveaway.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul Grant

    A brilliant evocation of Berlin one year on from the division of the city. The various tunnels and their characters are vividly painted by Mitchell. The impact of these tunnels went all the way to the White House and Mitchell follows the action scene by scene. And, of course, it's all real! Excellent.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    When I was a kid, I enjoyed the exciting tales of tunnels and escapes from prisons such as Colditz and as a young kid, that was basically all they were – thrilling tales of adventures and escapes. So naturally, a book about the Berlin Wall and the escapes (mainly) underneath it was going to be intriguing reading. I can clearly remember the night that it was announced that the wall was coming down and free movement was now available so although the ending of the book was not a surprise, it was st When I was a kid, I enjoyed the exciting tales of tunnels and escapes from prisons such as Colditz and as a young kid, that was basically all they were – thrilling tales of adventures and escapes. So naturally, a book about the Berlin Wall and the escapes (mainly) underneath it was going to be intriguing reading. I can clearly remember the night that it was announced that the wall was coming down and free movement was now available so although the ending of the book was not a surprise, it was still going to be an interesting read. The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell writes a very detailed and exciting book that gives details on several escape methods used to leave East Germany, not just tunnels although they are the primary focus. The depths that the diggers went to,their heroism and the risks that the escapees took deserves a wider audience and this book provides a very detailed account of what happened. Apparently both NBC and CBS were trying to capture exclusive footage of tunnel escapes for their network and some of the book details the political twists and turns as the producers and networks attempt to get the films released despite the protestation of various governments who feared the political fallout and risks during this cold-war era. It was pretty scary to see just how close the US was to war with Russia in the cold-war era and how big of an impact the Berlin escapes were having. The pictures included in the middle of the book give an additional indication of what happened under the streets of Berlin. I had not heard details of the escapes or seen pictures of the Berlin Wall so this book also provided a detailed history lesson from this era. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and got a new appreciation for what happened back during those years and an appreciation for the freedom of movement that we currently enjoy. Highly recommended. As a follow up to the book, I will be watching the NBC video, http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news... that will provide an extra insight into the situation. I would recommend that you read the book before watching the film though. A special thanks to Blogging for Books for the review copy of this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin Morgan

    I received an ARC [Advanced Reader’s Copy] of this book from the publisher and the following is my honest opinion. The moment I’d received my ARC copy of this book I had been able to find a video for the “banned” documentary the government didn’t want anyone to see. The documentary did a marvelous job in presenting a visual of what the individuals involved in creating the tunnel and their successful escape to freedom. In the NBC documentary you got to see and understand the risks they had to face I received an ARC [Advanced Reader’s Copy] of this book from the publisher and the following is my honest opinion. The moment I’d received my ARC copy of this book I had been able to find a video for the “banned” documentary the government didn’t want anyone to see. The documentary did a marvelous job in presenting a visual of what the individuals involved in creating the tunnel and their successful escape to freedom. In the NBC documentary you got to see and understand the risks they had to face in not being caught and feel the highly fraught emotions they faced each day. The unfortunately given the time restraints the documentary had to deal with to show everything important regarding the dire undertakings these individuals took to gain their freedom from the suppressed living conditions in Berlin in 1962. There was no time to dwell into all of the historical background related to the creation of the divided city of Berlin and the construction of the wall which isolated it from the rest of the world. Mr. Greg Mitchell has gone an exquisite job in gathering the informational minutia related to the Berlin Wall and all the escape attempts especially as well as the planning for the specific escape this book deals with and the documentary which the government tried to suppress during the heighten Cold War period during the Kennedy’s presidency. The author describes all the players involved and the specific roles they played in being a hindrance to the escape attempt and more important helping it move towards its ultimate fruition. With the all of the completed appendices and index which will be included in the completed book, this book about “The Tunnels” being dug in Berlin during the Cold War will make an awesome edition to any library, which is why I’ve given Mr. Mitchell 5 STARS for his endeavor here. If anyone is interested in viewing the program this book refers to here's the link: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Muphyn

    Parts of it were quite interesting but it had way too many characters for me to have any chance of keeping people apart. I didn't much appreciate the whole action / thriller attempt at documenting the tunnel escapes, that just felt sensationalist to me. In fact, the whole book felt like a very American way at looking at the tunnels built under the Wall, and, in my view, did little to (attempt to) understand the situation in the East. It was simply all about the communist threat (very real at the Parts of it were quite interesting but it had way too many characters for me to have any chance of keeping people apart. I didn't much appreciate the whole action / thriller attempt at documenting the tunnel escapes, that just felt sensationalist to me. In fact, the whole book felt like a very American way at looking at the tunnels built under the Wall, and, in my view, did little to (attempt to) understand the situation in the East. It was simply all about the communist threat (very real at the time, no doubt) and the evil Stasi. Maybe that's not a criticism I should levy at the book since it was written by an American, and since it is really mostly about how the building of the Wall and the escape tunnels were portrayed and perceived in American media at the time. A note on the audio book, the German pronunciation, especially the stress, was seriously awful for someone who read a book specifically about the Berlin Wall and Germany. I can tell he tried; but it was still terrible.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melinda Elizabeth

    The Tunnels is a well researched book into the young West Berlin students who risked their lives to help assist families, friends and strangers from their hardships in the East. Intertwined with the story of Kennedy's cold war, Cuba and the golden era of Documentaries on American TV, the book covers an incredibly tense time in world history. The book as all the intrigue you would expect from a fictionalised thriller. There's Stasi informers and tales of romance struck lovers stuck on opposite sid The Tunnels is a well researched book into the young West Berlin students who risked their lives to help assist families, friends and strangers from their hardships in the East. Intertwined with the story of Kennedy's cold war, Cuba and the golden era of Documentaries on American TV, the book covers an incredibly tense time in world history. The book as all the intrigue you would expect from a fictionalised thriller. There's Stasi informers and tales of romance struck lovers stuck on opposite sides of the wall. Definitely worth a look for modern historians, as these stories deserve to be heard.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    A true thriller well told.The tunnels under the Berlin wall told the tale of the human spirit.

  29. 4 out of 5

    S H A R O N

    The Tunnels is a fascinating glimpse into Cold War history. I've always been interested in modern history -- especially modern military history. When I saw the synopsis for The Tunnels I knew I had to read it. Greg Mitchell addresses a historical (yet timely) episode of the Cold War in examining the varied effects of the Berlin Wall and the actions of the brave men and women who strove to rescue others from oppression. Mitchell does a great job discussing the historical, political, and social The Tunnels is a fascinating glimpse into Cold War history. I've always been interested in modern history -- especially modern military history. When I saw the synopsis for The Tunnels I knew I had to read it. Greg Mitchell addresses a historical (yet timely) episode of the Cold War in examining the varied effects of the Berlin Wall and the actions of the brave men and women who strove to rescue others from oppression. Mitchell does a great job discussing the historical, political, and social ramifications of the Wall. Through The Tunnels we also branch out into the larger aspect of the Cold War as Mitchell discusses the domino effect of nuclear war and mutually assured destruction. Mitchell presents the history in an absorbing way while still focusing on individual people. The image of one of the women escaping through the tunnels in her designer wedding dress is haunting and poignant. How better to put a "face" on forgotten history than to give a name and a photo to remind us that real people struggled with these life threatening circumstances. The author also brings to light aspects of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall that is not readily taught in schools. The Cuban Missile Crisis is discussed in school history courses (at least in mine it was), but I had no idea about the CBS or NBC film crews on the scene. It's always disconcerting to think you know the story...only to find an entire chapter was missing. I would recommend The Tunnels as an engaging read that brings to light an era of history that is quickly drifting out of the national consciousness. Mitchell forces us to look at how walls did not work in the past...and won't work in the present. ​ I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Francis

    Great book. We take our freedom for granted. These people risked all not only to escape communism, but also to dig tunnels to help others escape. A very dangerous adventure. It was incredible reading about how many tunnels were dug, as well as the innovative and risky escape attempts of all sorts, some ending in tragedy. Sadly, our government talked a good talk, but did little else to help and actually discouraged the tunnelers when they found out about them. The West Germans including the police Great book. We take our freedom for granted. These people risked all not only to escape communism, but also to dig tunnels to help others escape. A very dangerous adventure. It was incredible reading about how many tunnels were dug, as well as the innovative and risky escape attempts of all sorts, some ending in tragedy. Sadly, our government talked a good talk, but did little else to help and actually discouraged the tunnelers when they found out about them. The West Germans including the police generally were very supportive of the tunnelers and did what they could to help them and other escapees. Sometimes they even provided covering fire as some scaled the wall. Even though the American media in my opinion has had for many decades a leftist slant, even they admired the tunnelers and wanted to do stories about them. University students also took time off from school to help dig the tunnels. The filming of the tunneling by NBC received high ratings when it was finally shown. This was a genuine reality show, one that would probably bore modern audiences to death. The lesson for me is don't take your freedom for granted. People who seek freedom will go to great lengths and will try just about anything to gain freedom.

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