Berlin 1961, By Frederick Kempe

 

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The Independent Culture

Utilising the classic tropes of US journalism, Kempe's account of the erection of the Berlin Wall proves to be unexpectedly enthralling.

Astonishing detail, such as Mao blowing cigarette smoke in the face of Khrushchev ("he knew the Soviet leader hated nothing more"), and vignettes of bit players bring the Cold War confrontation to life.

Kempe's criticism of Kennedy for not standing up to Khrushchev and Macmillan's acceptance of controls "without a peep of protest" fails to take into account the still-fresh memories of world war. No one wanted another.

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