Epublication content package

Overnight, it became a powerful symbol of the stark and bitter divisions of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was more than a symbol, however. For nearly thirty years, it separated families, kept millions of people in virtual slavery, and took the lives of many whose unquenchable thirst for freedom drove them to climb over, tunnel under, or sneak past the wall.

In The Fall of the Berlin Wall, renowned author and conservative pioneer William F. Buckley Jr. explains why the wall was built, reveals its devastating impact on the lives of people on both sides, and provides a riveting account of the events that led to the wall’s destruction and the end of the Cold War.

Writing with rare intensity and passion, Buckley examines the political, military, and human realities of occupied Germany in the early years of the Cold War. He recounts the Soviets’ repeated violations of the Four-Power Agreements that governed the occupation as they folded East Germany into their growing empire, and he documents the failure of NATO–and successive American presidents–to stand firm against Soviet bullying.

Buckley also creates detailed and perceptive portraits of such major players as East Germany’s dour and disapproving secretary general Walter Ulbricht; Konrad Adenauer, the beloved "der Alte," chancellor of West Germany; Berlin mayor Willy Brandt; and American general Lucius Clay, who faced down the Soviets at Checkpoint Charlie. His analysis of behind-the-scenes squabbling on both sides informs and entertains as it connects developments in the years-long conflict over Berlin with the Cuban Missile Crisis and other major Cold War events.

This fast-paced history overflows with the famous Buckley wit and insight as it documents the heroic, inventive, and sometimes heartbreaking efforts of ordinary people to escape the soul-killing East German regime. You’ll meet the young couple who swam a river with their infant child in their arms; the engineering student who convinced an American television network to finance his escape tunnel; and the construction worker who was left to die in agony after being shot by East German border guards. You’ll also relive the giddy celebration that followed the opening of the border and drew thousands of Berliners to the wall, hammers and chisels in hand, bent on tearing down the hated barrier, chunk by jagged chunk.

Complete with an analysis of how Ronald Reagan’s hard-nosed foreign policy undermined Warsaw Pact dictators, emboldened dissidents, and finally made the dream of freedom a reality in Eastern Europe, The Fall of the Berlin Wall is Buckley at his wry and contentious best. It is sure to delight conservatives, annoy liberals, and enlighten everyone who reads it.