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The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill (Paperback)

The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill Cover Image
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A thrilling Cold War narrative of superpower showdowns, media suppression, and two escape tunnels beneath the Berlin Wall

In the summer of 1962, the year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture, and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Then two U.S. television networks heard about the secret projects and raced to be first to document them from the inside. NBC and CBS funded two separate tunnels in return for the right to film the escapes, planning spectacular prime-time specials. President John F. Kennedy, however, was wary of anything that might spark a confrontation with the Soviets, having said, "A wall is better than a war," and even confessing to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, "We don't care about East Berlin." JFK approved unprecedented maneuvers to quash both documentaries, testing the limits of a free press in an era of escalating nuclear tensions.

As Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Germany's top target for arrest; the Stasi informer who betrays the "CBS tunnel"; the American student who aided the escapes; an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English channel; the young East Berliner who fled with her baby, then married one of the tunnelers. Capturing the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police, U.S. networks prepared to "pay for play" yet willing to cave to official pressure, a White House eager to suppress historic coverage, and the subversive power of ordinary people in dire circumstances, The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive read whose themes still reverberate.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author


GREG MITCHELL is the author of a dozen books, including The Campaign of the Century, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, a New York Times Notable Book; So Wrong for So Long; and, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America and Who Owns Death? Mitchell has edited several national magazines, including Editor & Publisher, and he blogs actively about media and politics for the Huffington Post and other outlets. He recently coproduced the acclaimed documentary Following the Ninth. He lives in the New York City area. From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101903872
ISBN-10: 1101903872
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: October 17th, 2017
Pages: 400
Language: English
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