The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell
Page Count: 400
Published by: Crown (October 18, 2016)
Genre: Politics & Social Sciences/Politics & Government/Censorship
My Rating: 5/5
In the summer of 1962, the year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture, and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Then two U.S. television networks heard about the secret projects and raced to be first to document them from the inside. NBC and CBS funded two separate tunnels in return for the right to film the escapes, planning spectacular prime-time specials. President John F. Kennedy, however, was wary of anything that might spark a confrontation with the Soviets, having said, “A wall is better than a war,” and even confessing to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “We don’t care about East Berlin.” JFK approved unprecedented maneuvers to quash both documentaries, testing the limits of a free press in an era of escalating nuclear tensions.
As Greg Mitchell’s riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Germany’s top target for arrest; the Stasi informer who betrays the “CBS tunnel”; the American student who aided the escapes; an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English channel; the young East Berliner who fled with her baby, then married one of the tunnelers. Capturing the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police, U.S. networks prepared to “pay for play” yet willing to cave to official pressure, a White House eager to suppress historic coverage, and the subversive power of ordinary people in dire circumstances, The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive read whose themes still reverberate.
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a history nut. I especially enjoy the untold stories of the past. So when I was asked to review this recent book from Greg Mitchell, I gladly accepted. Using a narrative-type format, Greg Mitchell was able to bring to life the feelings of sadness and disappointment in the days leading up to and after the construction of the Berlin Wall. According to a “note to the readers” page, this novel was based on actual recordings and interviews from the people who lived through these escapes.
I found this book to be extremely fascinating and very well-written. The photos and maps that were included in the publishing were phenomenal and really helped to bring the whole story together. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys learning about the past. Amazing delivery of a very fascinating time in history!
About the Author:
GREG MITCHELL is the author of a dozen books, including Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady; The Campaign of the Century (winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize); So Wrong for So Long; and, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America and Who Owns Death? He blogs actively about media and politics, has co-produced an acclaimed film documentary, and won numerous awards as the editor of Editor & Publisher He lives in the New York City area.
Until next time!
P.S. Here goes the little disclaimer…
Thanks goes to Crown and BloggingforBooks.com for allowing me the opportunity to review this book prior to publication. All opinions expressed in this review are solely mine and I did not receive any payment.