'A lively, evocative account of the life and death of the world's most notorious wall. In capturing the essence of the old Cold War he may just have helped us to understand a bit more about the new one' The Times
'Checkpoint Charlie is a fascinating and telling reminder of what was perhaps the most potent symbol of the Cold War . . . Iain MacGregor writes with great fluency and narrative drive' William Boyd, New Statesman
'A rich collection of tales from cold war Berlin captures the city's mad complexities' Observer
'With a gripping narrative and vivid interviews with those on all sides whose lives were directly affected by that grim symbol of the East-West divide that poisoned Europe for almost half a century, [MacGregor] has made an important contribution to the history of our times' Jonathan Dimbleby
'Captures brilliantly and comprehensively both the danger and exhilaration that I and other reporters, soldiers, and people experienced intersecting with the wall - a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the Europe we have inherited' Jon Snow
A powerful, fascinating, and ground-breaking history of Checkpoint Charlie, the legendary and most important military gate on the border of East and West Berlin where the United States and her allies confronted the USSR during the Cold War.
As the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches in 2019, Iain MacGregor captures the mistrust, oppression, paranoia, and fear that gripped the city throughout this period. Checkpoint Charlie is about the nerve-wracking confrontation between the West and the Soviet Union that contains never-before-heard interviews with the men who built and dismantled the Wall; lovers who crossed it; relatives and friends who lost family trying to escape over it; German, British, French, and Russian soldiers who guarded its checkpoints; CIA, MI6 and Stasi operatives who oversaw secret operations across its borders; politicians whose ambitions shaped it; journalists who recorded its story; and many more whose living memories contributed to the full story of Checkpoint Charlie. A brilliant work of historical journalism, Checkpoint Charlie is an invaluable record of this period.
British publisher and historian MacGregor (To Hell on a Bike) delivers a colorful, kaleidoscopic history of the Berlin Wall from the perspectives of soldiers, military police, journalists, spies, and citizens from England, America, and West and East Germany. Highlights include the story of a top-secret American special forces unit stationed in West Berlin and tasked with sabotaging the Soviet army in case of invasion; in such a scenario, the soldiers' life expectancy was estimated to be 72 hours. MacGregor also unearths little-known facts, including the average amount West Germany paid from 1961 to 1989 to ransom more than 30,000 East German political prisoners (250,000 marks, or 100,000 in today's money), and the nickname for the area near Dresden that was the only part of East Germany without access to West German TV ("Valley of the Clueless"). The book's strongest sections are set during and immediately after the wall's construction and in the years leading up to its fall. MacGregor's dramatic reconstruction of the night the wall fell features the enlightening viewpoint of Maj. Gen. Robert Corbett, commandant of Berlin's British sector. This is a readable yet cursory account; those seeking a more comprehensive picture will find it in Frederick Taylor's The Berlin Wall.