A balanced, unusually well-written account of the history of the Wall: how it came to be built, how it functioned, and why it was torn down. Epler begins with a concise summary of German history since WW I, outlining the social trends that culminated in the Soviet takeover of eastern Germany in 1945 and the conflicts among the former allies that hardened attitudes on both sides. Having established the background, she shows how the East Germans moved to stop the flow of refugees and the economic pressures throughout Berlin. After stories of people trying to break through the wall even after guards were ordered to shoot to kill, Epler credits the final breakthroughs to Gorbachev's policies, which filtered through other East European countries to Germany. Though clearly pro-Western, the author fairly presents the problems that have cropped up with German reunification. A good selection for coverage of these important, almost-current events. Source notes; chronology; bibliography; suggested reading; index. Illustrations not seen.