A countdown on the rising of the Berlin Wall, described as the most stunning propaganda setback for the Soviet Union to date. After setting the scene for the events of August , 1961, and focusing on the human drama that proliferated in the aftermath when determined individuals tunneled, ran, flung themselves to freedom (81 year-old Max Thomas did not even want to be buried in East Berlin), the Hellers follow the political-historical route to the barrier. They set the importance of Berlin in Molotov's words -- to the effect that what happens to Berlin happens to Germany, what happens to Germany happens to Europe a perspective supported by another anonymous off-the-cuff comment: ""What the Americans must understand is that there is always a Berlin crisis. The Russians e to that."" The Hellers describe the role of the Americans in answering the threat, point out the diplomatic attempt at Potsdam to unify the sectors by common policy in many areas, and describe the abrasiveness of contact between the Soviet and West, essentially the U.S., in the divided city. Action in East Germany -- the invoking of the Berlin Blockade and triumph of lay and LeMay in circumventing it, the establishment of the misnamed German Democratic Republic in 1949, the June, 1953 uprising, further crise which lead to the Wall in 1961 and to deprivation and deterioration in medical, agricultural, educational areas of East Berlin life -- all are present and accounted for in a serious, unsensational book in an area we should all know but whose historical continuity we are likely to forget. A few interpretations, such as the attempt to make something of Hitler's death and bricht's rise seem over pressed, but this is good, conscientious reporting.