Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Fall of the Berlin Wall The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989

The Fall of the Berlin Wall The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989 is a very interesting book. It is edited by Jeffrey A. Engel and is a collection of essays on the subject, written by people who are acknowledged as experts in their fields. Chen Jian, holder of the Michael J. Zak chair of history for U.S. -Chinese relations, Cornell University; Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of American History, University of Virginia; Sventlana Savranskaya, director of Russia Programs, National Security Archive, George Washington University; James J. Sheehan, Dickason Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Modern European History, Emeritus, Stanford University; William Taubman, Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, Amherst College.

Two of the most momentous events of the late 20th century were  the construction of the Berlin Wall, the other was the demolition of that same wall.

The erudite and well-argued essays examines how the Berlin Wall came to be removed all at once in 1989, and why nobody had foreseen this epoch making event.

The book details how the events of the days and weeks leading up to the fall occurred, how a frightened and desperate DDR leader Erich Honecker ordered his troops to open fire on the generally good natured but vocal crowds of demonstrators that were protesting against Honecker's autocratic rule. They declined to accept his order. Something that would have been utterly unthinkable, even months earlier. The party sacked Honecker and thus was the beginning of the end of not only the cursed wall. but of the entire DDR itself.

The book points out that these results came about as a result of the changes that had swept through neighbouring Poland and Hungary. Soon, revolt and revolution took not only the Communist Party of East Germany but also the rest of the Warsaw Pact member states.

The book looks at what happened next, and raises issues about what could happen in the future in this, the Post Wall period.

This book is a must have for any serious student of political or social history.

It is published by the Oxford University Press in paperback at $19.95.

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