Book review: Berlin 1961

Berlin 1961 examines the events in Berlin in 1961 at the height of the Cold War. 1961 saw the construction of the Berlin Wall and the face-off at Checkpoint Charlie. The book examines the pressures on the leaders (Kennedy as a new president, Khrushchev from the party, Ulbricht with a fleeing population and Adenaur with an election against Brandt) and follows events in Berlin throughout 1961. The construction of the Berlin Wall is covered in great detail and shows how it was not seen as an ideal solution, but the best solution in the circumstances and a way of avoiding a war. In fact, statements from Kennedy prior to the construction of the wall shows that he was prepared to accept it as long as there was no impact on West Berlin in terms of access for Allied troops or territory. The face-off at Checkpoint Charlie is covered in less detail, primarily focusing on the build-up to it. The book finishes with the impact that events in Berlin during 1961 had on the rest of the Cold War, notably 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I really enjoyed the book and found that it went into plenty of detail about an important year of the Cold War. It clearly showed the pressures that the leaders faced led to strong statements and misinterpretations from the other side.

Rating (out of 5): *****


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