THE LAST DIVISION by Ann Tusa

THE LAST DIVISION

A History of Berlin, 1945-1989
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The subtitle here is somewhat misleading: This is not so much about Berlin as about the petty and insignificant wrangles and crises involving the four Allied occupying powers (the US, the USSR, France, and Great Britain) of the city that became ``the pivot of the Cold War,'' focusing on the period between the end of WW II and the building of the infamous wall that cleaved Berlin in August 1961. Tusa, a British historian who specializes in postwar Germany, is an exhaustive researcher but an often stolid narrator, given to minutiae. She does, however, do an excellent job in profiling the Russian, British, French, and American leaders drawn into the battle over Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s. For the most part, though, her work plods along, detailing diplomatic impasse after impasse, particularly after Khrushchev threatened in November 1958 to block the Western powers' air, rail, and highway access to Berlin. Fortunately, Tusa's work comes to life in the long section describing events before, during, and immediately after the wall's construction, and in her brief summary of events leading up to the wall's destruction in 1989. She reveals that the three Western powers were woefully unprepared for the crisis--they were focused on the city's accessibility rather than its possible physical division--and responded to it very uncertainly. President Kennedy ultimately sent Vice President Johnson and Lucius Clay to the city; his own celebrated visit came only two years later). Yet even a wall ultimately could not stanch the desire of the East Germany's citizens to escape their socioeconomic and political nightmare, particularly after the hopes raised by perestroika in the mid- 1980s. This solid but overly long work will be of interest mainly to aficionados of the Cold War and of postwar diplomatic history. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-201-14399-2
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997