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30 August 2013

Book Review: Berlin 1961

Berlin 1961Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'll open this review with an admission of my ignorance.  I had no idea Berlin was located so deep in East Germany.  In my head, my whole life, Berlin sat on the border and the wall reflected that larger border.

So to find out (and probably not for the first time, but this was the first time it stuck) that Berlin was a strange island.  So then I kept thinking of the Vienna of The Third Man and wondering how many other places were so strangely divided.

Oh, the Cold War.  Such an odd moment in history.

Because most of the historical lessons of this book were new to me, I cannot speak with assurance on its accuracy or fairness.  Kempe does not think highly of Kennedy's handling in 1961 and, in reading this account, I'm amazed that history has been so kind to him (though he apparently redeemed himself in 1962)

My take-away is simple;  politics is filled with regular people acting poorly, misreading each other, gossiping, manipulating, lying, redefining truth and posturing.  It's like junior high but with a lot more at stake.

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