BERLIN IN THE BALANCE, 1945-1949 by Thomas Parrish


The Blockade, the Airlift, the First Major Battle of the Cold War
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Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Soviet army’s blockade of West Berlin, Parrish, the author of encyclopedias on WWII and the cold war as well as of Roosevelt and Marshall: Their Partnership in Politics and War (1989), ably recounts the story with an eye to dramatic detail, as well as clearly defined villains and heroes. Of particular value are the first several chapters, which outline in brief Berlin’s history and its role in WWII. American readers will perhaps not be surprised to learn of internal conflicts between presidents Roosevelt and Truman, their closest advisers, and Congress. Few people in power in America had any expertise regarding the postwar situation in Europe, although most were convinced that they had the right answers. Professional historians will no doubt find fault with this work because it makes no use of German or Russian documents, only the translated manuscript of Soviet foreign minister Molotov. Still there is an abundance of material to work with, even if Parrish fails to use or even address a work that appeared in 1996 to numerous awards and accolades while fundamentally challenging our conception of the division of Germany, Caroline Eisenberg’s Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany. Parrish, instead, is clearly within the traditional Cold War historiography, careful to point out the atrocities committed by the Soviet troops (including several gruesome pages on systematic rape), while failing to mention concomitant atrocities committed by German troops in eastern Europe. This could be done without in any way exonerating the Soviets for their brutish behavior while imparting necessary historical and cultural context to the end of the war. One of the precious few clear victories of the Cold War, told with a triumphalist tone. (b&w photos, maps, not seen)

Pub Date: June 24th, 1998
ISBN: 0-201-25832-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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