Mary Elise Sarotte – The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

Mary Elise Sarotte – The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

One of the most important events in the 20th century almost happened on a lark—an East German official made a mistake about loosening travel restrictions during a press conference and couldn’t walk it back. At the same time, the Wall’s coming down seemed inevitable. Sarotte explores this tension in gripping fashion—I couldn’t put this book down.

Even Dan Rather’s on-site news coverage was an accident. He and his crew were there to cover a diplomatic meeting, and didn’t think anything big would come of it. Turns out it did, and how. They covered the fateful press conference, and were just able to set up in a spot near the wall when the celebrants starting tearing down the concrete. Even the floodlights they used for tv lighting were a happy accident they had on hand. In all, Sarotte has done justice to one of recent history’s most important, and happiest events. Its mix of spontaneity and inevitability is the perfect microcosm for twentieth-century socialism’s larger collapse.

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