Author Sheds Light on Clandestine Escapes from East Berlin

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy.

My latest book selection is The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by American author Greg Mitchell, which was released on October 18. Mitchell has written a dozen non-fiction books on United States politics and history of the 2oth and 21st centuries. Miller blogs actively about media and politics. His writing is on point and will hold the interest of the reader until the very end of the story.

I chose this particular book because I wanted to learn more about the Berlin Wall, which existed when I was born and was removed when I was a little girl. I knew the clinical aspects of the Berlin Wall without knowing much about the personal perspective of those who experienced life behind the Berlin Wall.

The Tunnels is a collection of accounts of real people who were desperately trying to flee East Berlin. They risked their lives, prison and Stasi torture to liberate themselves, their friends, family and even strangers from East Berlin. As the Berlin Wall became a more permanent structure that was increasingly difficult to cross, the liberators went underground and began tunneling under the Wall. Tunnels were physically dangerous and put the liberators at great risk of being discovered by the Stasi during the digging process as well as during the use of the finished tunnels during escapes.

Mitchell takes a complex subject and breaks it down into manageable pieces as he explains the role of the American government under the presidency of John F. Kennedy during and after the Berlin Wall’s creation and the secretive role of American news organizations in the funding of and the filming of two tunneling projects in East Berlin. He examines how the Stasi treated its own citizens who were trying to flee East Germany as the oppression of captivity became too much to tolerate any longer. He looks at how far and wide the Stasi infiltrated both East and West German societies through the use of informants and how the Stasi reacted to the liberators after the Berlin Wall fell.

The Tunnels is rich in history and accurate to the letter. Mitchell starts his book by explaining that everything in it “adheres strictly to the historical record and reflections by participants and witnesses. It incorporates no invented dialogue.” Mitchell fully researched his material and his finished product shows his level of dedication to historical research.

The Tunnels is designed to have the look and the feel of the actual day the Berlin Wall itself went up. The cover dust jacket photo is simple yet thought-provoking. The cover itself is textured and reminds me of old history books. There are black and white photos clustered in the middle of The Tunnels, reminiscent of the books my great aunt owned during the Cold War. The serif font typeset has the feel of an old-school typewriter. The font is so convincing I can hear the bell dinging at the end of each line.

Mitchell’s book is wonderfully written and will delight any history buff with its knowledge and accuracy. Currently available in hardcover for $28, The Tunnels is reasonably priced for such a well-written and well-researched book.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.


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