The Tunnels
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The Tunnels : The Untold Story of the Escapes Under the Berlin Wall

3.8 (308 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In the summer of 1962, one year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of daring 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, as the world's press heard about the secret projects, two television networks raced to be the first to document them from the inside, funding two separate tunnels for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries. As Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Berlin's most wanted man; the tunneller 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 tunnellers; and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel. Capturing the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners, the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police, and the political tensions of the Cold War, The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive read whose themes still reverberate today.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 34mm | 538g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • BANTAM PRESS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0593075978
  • 9780593075975
  • 143,351

Review quote

"A story with so much inherent drama it sounds far-fetched even for a Hollywood thriller... Mitchell tells a kaleidoscopic cold war story from 1962, recreating a world seemingly on the edge of a third world war." * The Guardian * "A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era." * The Washington Post * "The greatest strength of The Tunnels is in the details... Days after finishing the book I could not escape one of Mitchell's images - of a hat with a small hole in it landing softly on the Western side of the border while its owner's dead body fell back into the East, waiting for the guards to hurry it out of sight. For those who see walls as the answer to policy problems, this book serves as a stark reminder that barriers can never cut people off entirely but only succeed in driving them underground." * New York Times Book Review * "The Tunnels is one of the great untold stories of the Cold War. Brilliantly researched and told with great flair, Greg Mitchell's non-fiction narrative reads like the best spy thriller, something le Carre might have imagined. Easily the best book I've read all year." -- Alex Kershaw, author of Avenue of Spies "Every hour of my year in East Berlin - 1963/64 - the escape tunnels beneath our feet were being dug. This is their story: those who dug them, those who used them and those who betrayed them to the Stasi. Fascinating - and it is all true." -- Frederick Forsythshow more

About Greg Mitchell

GREG MITCHELL is the author of nearly a dozen books, including The Campaign of the Century, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize. He is the former editor of Editor & Publisher.show more

Review Text

"A story with so much inherent drama it sounds far-fetched even for a Hollywood thriller... Mitchell tells a kaleidoscopic cold war story from 1962, recreating a world seemingly on the edge of a third world war." The Guardianshow more

Rating details

308 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 20% (62)
4 50% (153)
3 22% (69)
2 6% (19)
1 2% (5)
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