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Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall

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He's just escaped from one of the world's most brutal regimes. Now, he decides to tunnel back in. It's summer, 1962, and Joachim Rudolph, a student, is digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. Waiting on the other side in East Berlin - dozens of men, women and children; all willing to risk everything to escape. From the award-winning creator of the acclaimed BBC Radio 4 podcas He's just escaped from one of the world's most brutal regimes. Now, he decides to tunnel back in. It's summer, 1962, and Joachim Rudolph, a student, is digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. Waiting on the other side in East Berlin - dozens of men, women and children; all willing to risk everything to escape. From the award-winning creator of the acclaimed BBC Radio 4 podcast, Tunnel 29 is the true story of the most remarkable escape tunnel dug under the Berlin Wall. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with the survivors, and thousands of pages of Stasi documents, Helena Merriman brilliantly reveals the stranger-than-fiction story of the ingenious group of student-diggers, the glamorous red-haired messenger, the American News network which films the escape, and the Stasi spy who betrays it. For what Joachim doesn't know as he burrows closer to East Germany, is that the escape operation has been infiltrated. As the escapees prepare to crawl through the cold, wet darkness, above them, the Stasi are closing in. Tunnel 29 is about what happens when people lose their freedom - and how some will do anything to win it back. Acclaim for the TUNNEL 29 podcast: 'Combining the fun of a thriller that we know will end happily with grim perspective on history and tyranny... stunning' New Yorker 'Reminiscent of a savvy Netflix block buster series' Evening Standard 'A truly exciting yarn... creates a sense for the listener of being right there in the tunnel, experiencing the dangers.' Observer


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He's just escaped from one of the world's most brutal regimes. Now, he decides to tunnel back in. It's summer, 1962, and Joachim Rudolph, a student, is digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. Waiting on the other side in East Berlin - dozens of men, women and children; all willing to risk everything to escape. From the award-winning creator of the acclaimed BBC Radio 4 podcas He's just escaped from one of the world's most brutal regimes. Now, he decides to tunnel back in. It's summer, 1962, and Joachim Rudolph, a student, is digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. Waiting on the other side in East Berlin - dozens of men, women and children; all willing to risk everything to escape. From the award-winning creator of the acclaimed BBC Radio 4 podcast, Tunnel 29 is the true story of the most remarkable escape tunnel dug under the Berlin Wall. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with the survivors, and thousands of pages of Stasi documents, Helena Merriman brilliantly reveals the stranger-than-fiction story of the ingenious group of student-diggers, the glamorous red-haired messenger, the American News network which films the escape, and the Stasi spy who betrays it. For what Joachim doesn't know as he burrows closer to East Germany, is that the escape operation has been infiltrated. As the escapees prepare to crawl through the cold, wet darkness, above them, the Stasi are closing in. Tunnel 29 is about what happens when people lose their freedom - and how some will do anything to win it back. Acclaim for the TUNNEL 29 podcast: 'Combining the fun of a thriller that we know will end happily with grim perspective on history and tyranny... stunning' New Yorker 'Reminiscent of a savvy Netflix block buster series' Evening Standard 'A truly exciting yarn... creates a sense for the listener of being right there in the tunnel, experiencing the dangers.' Observer

30 review for Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    What an amazing book and a true story as well. I do remember the Berlin Wall and how we did learn about it. Never, though did I fully realize the things that went on behind that wall, the struggle to escape from the totalitarian rule of East Berlin and its maniacal leaders. The story centers on the escape plans, those of building a tunnel, in order to be free. It focuses on the hardships, the struggles, the loneliness, and heartbreak that occurred when the wall went up and families were separated What an amazing book and a true story as well. I do remember the Berlin Wall and how we did learn about it. Never, though did I fully realize the things that went on behind that wall, the struggle to escape from the totalitarian rule of East Berlin and its maniacal leaders. The story centers on the escape plans, those of building a tunnel, in order to be free. It focuses on the hardships, the struggles, the loneliness, and heartbreak that occurred when the wall went up and families were separated, children from parents, wives from husband, and the road to ever seeing them again was cut off. It was a story of deprivation, of being watched all the time by hidden members of the Staci in their efforts to control all. The list of those who were spies showed, years later, the husbands who exposed wives, the children who turned on their parents, friend against friend, in an effort to appease those in control. The methods used when "traitors" were uncovered was cruel and inhuman, often resulting in death or years in prison, using mind control and other tortures to elicit the information the Staci needed. It was in essence a trip into hell from which no one escaped and if they were released the prisoners never were the same. It was a story of authoritarian control, a time of Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Communism, and others who felt helpless to intervene knowing that the tenuous thread of nuclear war hung in the balance. There were the success stories, those who managed to escape and Tunnel 29, tells us the harrowing tale of those brave young men who dug tunnels to help those on the other side escape. They all knew their fate, if they were captured and the informants were running rampant so danger lurked behind every ear that heard a plan for escape. This powerful story is both amazingly told and a caution to all of us as to what happens when a government holds total control over their people. It is definitely recommended as a non-fiction book that delivers on so many levels. Thank you to Helena Merriman whose exhausted research made this such a moving story, PublicAffairs, and NetGalley for a copy of this story already published on August 24, 2021.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rennie

    Perfect narrative nonfiction. There are lots of documentaries on German TV at the moment since the anniversary of the closing-off of the border and the beginning of the wall’s building is on August 13. It was surreal to see images and scenes described here depicted in some of them - like the elderly woman who got halfway out of an apartment window with West Berliners pulling on her from below and East Berlin policemen trying to pull her back in. The author is so gifted at descriptions and buildin Perfect narrative nonfiction. There are lots of documentaries on German TV at the moment since the anniversary of the closing-off of the border and the beginning of the wall’s building is on August 13. It was surreal to see images and scenes described here depicted in some of them - like the elderly woman who got halfway out of an apartment window with West Berliners pulling on her from below and East Berlin policemen trying to pull her back in. The author is so gifted at descriptions and building atmosphere, every scene was exactly as I’d pictured it from her words. I haven’t listened to the podcast this grew out of but I was skeptical because the book/podcast connection has been pretty disappointing thus far. She must be a great interviewer though, because the details and the way the stories were built and layered was outstanding. It also explains some complex bits of history and politics very well, while still managing to read like a thriller much of the time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Non-Fiction>The Berlin Wall, mid 1900s>Biography, 3.5 Stars East Berliners were actually held in place by a wall. After WWII ended and the city was split, there were avenues to allow East Berliners to work, visit family, vacation and go to school in West Berlin (and vice-versa). There was tension and certain items were confiscated at the border similarly to modern border-crossings between nations today. In 1961, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev put up a wall between the East and West overnight and Non-Fiction>The Berlin Wall, mid 1900s>Biography, 3.5 Stars East Berliners were actually held in place by a wall. After WWII ended and the city was split, there were avenues to allow East Berliners to work, visit family, vacation and go to school in West Berlin (and vice-versa). There was tension and certain items were confiscated at the border similarly to modern border-crossings between nations today. In 1961, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev put up a wall between the East and West overnight and the US did not intervene or demand that the ridiculous wall be taken down. Consequently, the citizens of the East were suddenly trapped in the [essentially] Soviet-ruled side of Germany. Many wanted out. Maybe most wanted out. One of few walls ever built keep people in was suffocating an entire population and some of them actively sought a way out in spite of the risks: imprisonment, torture and death if they failed but freedom without those whom they left behind if they succeeded. This is the story of some of the people who were involved in a tunnel that NBC documented and showed the world after some of the largest tunnel escapes for the Berlin Wall happened. The back-breaking work, lack of oxygen, logistics, politics, outsiders, insiders, spies and common folk involved are documented here. Reading this makes me want to seek out the TV special that NBC aired. This is a great story, but dragged on a little long for me. This has a very journalistic style and I would enjoy a first-person account more. There are SO many WWI and Cold War stories to choose to read: historical fiction can create wonderful twists and character development with the backdrop of this time, autobiographies and memoirs give first-hand accounts and histories explain what happened to whom and when and by whom. The second-hand journalist style is my least favorite way to learn the personal perspectives of most situations and time periods. I liked the contrast between JFK's speech, "I am a Berliner." and Gorbachev's, "I love this wall."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Despite being familiar with this story (having read The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell), I found this narrative quite exciting. This was primarily from the perspective of Joachim Rudolph, the child of a farmer who survived WWII, but relocated to East Berlin after his father was captured by the Russians. Trapped in the East after the partition of Germany, Joachim eventually escapes to the West and joins an organization that helps would-be escapees. Their most ambitious project would be the titular tunn Despite being familiar with this story (having read The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell), I found this narrative quite exciting. This was primarily from the perspective of Joachim Rudolph, the child of a farmer who survived WWII, but relocated to East Berlin after his father was captured by the Russians. Trapped in the East after the partition of Germany, Joachim eventually escapes to the West and joins an organization that helps would-be escapees. Their most ambitious project would be the titular tunnel, and it was quite a feat of engineering (good thing Joachim was an engineering student). There are several periphery characters presented as well, like a Stasi informant, fellow students, and people desperate to get out of East Germany. Of course, there are the few people from NBC who are aware of the tunnel and are filming a documentary. Merriman also highlights some of the most famous escapees and the tensest moments of the Cold War. The storytelling is excellent, the writing is captivating, and Joachim is truly admirable. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Claire Keeley

    I couldn’t put this down. After listening to the podcast a while back, then finding out there was a book, I am blown away by this episode in history. Helena Merriman has brought the stories of the people who created this tunnel to life. It’s impossible not to feel the tension and claustrophobia, created not only by the tunnel itself but also by the level of state surveillance. A little, helpful history has been thrown in, I expect for people like me who are not completely aware of the political s I couldn’t put this down. After listening to the podcast a while back, then finding out there was a book, I am blown away by this episode in history. Helena Merriman has brought the stories of the people who created this tunnel to life. It’s impossible not to feel the tension and claustrophobia, created not only by the tunnel itself but also by the level of state surveillance. A little, helpful history has been thrown in, I expect for people like me who are not completely aware of the political situation at the time, although I did read a review that said they didn’t like the addition, but I disagree. I was 11 when the wall came down, I remember it vividly but that doesn’t mean I knew all about why it went up and what happened behind it, Merriman has given me cultural and political context which I am grateful for. Read this, you won’t regret it, it’s a worthwhile story that should be remembered. And on the subject of walls, Joachim Rudolph is absolutely right on what they all have in common.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Renée

    Touching

  7. 5 out of 5

    William Matthies

    It's rare that a book forces me to continue reading. Many are interesting, I enjoy them, but reading more the next night works too. Not this one. I forced myself to put it down to sleep. The story is compelling enough, but the way author Merriman tells it makes it even more so. I wonder how many of you reading this are under 40, thinking to yourself, "Escape beneath Berlin Wall? What wall?" You will enjoy the book, but more importantly, in this time of walls meant to seperate people, you need to It's rare that a book forces me to continue reading. Many are interesting, I enjoy them, but reading more the next night works too. Not this one. I forced myself to put it down to sleep. The story is compelling enough, but the way author Merriman tells it makes it even more so. I wonder how many of you reading this are under 40, thinking to yourself, "Escape beneath Berlin Wall? What wall?" You will enjoy the book, but more importantly, in this time of walls meant to seperate people, you need to read this.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Tunnel 29 is a jaw dropping book, absolutely unmissable. From the 325+ books I've read thus far this year this is one of the most gripping and absorbing. In fact, I would classify it as life changing. Why? This is not fiction but a true story. Real people. The author interviewed Joachim Rudolph who was one of the tunnel diggers beneath the Berlin Wall. His fascinating story is one of courage and survival amidst the most horrendous circumstances from the time he was a child when he experienced hi Tunnel 29 is a jaw dropping book, absolutely unmissable. From the 325+ books I've read thus far this year this is one of the most gripping and absorbing. In fact, I would classify it as life changing. Why? This is not fiction but a true story. Real people. The author interviewed Joachim Rudolph who was one of the tunnel diggers beneath the Berlin Wall. His fascinating story is one of courage and survival amidst the most horrendous circumstances from the time he was a child when he experienced his first separation and starvation during WWII to the August 12-13, 1961 building of the Berlin Wall to dangerous tunnel digging. A relative of mine managed to escape in the 1960s so this era is incredibly interesting to me. The author gives an excellent background history of Stalin and Ulbricht as well as the German Democratic Republic. Stalin sent his troops into Berlin before anyone else could arrive to pillage and destroy. Women were brutally raped. Families were torn apart. I cannot begin to fathom the depth of terror of living during WWII as well as this. The author describes the Stasi and how they capitalized on intelligence. During this time there was at least one Stasi agent to every sixty three people! No wonder no one could trust anyone else. Friends could be infiltrators and people were "retracted". Literally overnight after a planned blackout barbed wire quickly went up through Berlin, cutting people off from their world. Soon concrete blocks went up with more layers of defense including metal spikes and sand so footprints from escapees could be seen. Some managed to escape in desperation by jumping from windows, others tried running through gaps in the wire. Joachim was determined to find a way to help others escape so he and a group tunneled which is more difficult than I had imagined. Talk about dangerous! So many things struck me in this book from the first escape to the sheer numbers of Stasi to the details of the building of the wall to the separation of families for many years and daring escape attempts to tasting pineapple for the first time to the marked jars with cloths to Siegfried Uhse's story to "stupid leftovers" to repurposing concentration camps to Americanization of Berlin to the significance of Joachim's shoes. This book gave me goosebumps. If I had to choose one word, it would be "powerful". Kudos to Mr. Rudolph and Helena Merriman for telling this important story. What an honour it must have been to talk with Joachim! I really like the explanation of what happened to the key characters. A documentary was done using actual tunnel escape footage at the time which is also described. My sincere thank you to Perseus Books and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this compelling book! Much appreciated.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: May 23, 2021 Publication date: August 24 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave (#fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in ex Date reviewed/posted: May 23, 2021 Publication date: August 24 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave (#fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Based on a hit podcast series, this book tells the unbelievable true story of an escape tunnel under the Berlin Wall--the people who built it, the spy who betrayed it, and the media event it inspired. In September 1961, at the height of the Cold War, 22-year-old Joachim Rudolph escaped from East Germany, one of the world's most brutal regimes. He'd risked everything to do it. Then, a few months later, working with a group of students, he picked up a spade... and tunnelled back in. The goal was to tunnel into the East to help people escape. They spend months digging, hauling up carts of dirt in a tunnel ventilated by stove pipes. But the odds are against them: a Stasi agent infiltrates their group and on their first attempt, and dozens of escapees and some of the diggers are arrested and imprisoned. Despite the risk of prison and death, a month later, Joachim and the other try again and hit more bad luck: the tunnel springs a leak. After several attempts, run-ins with a spy and secret police, and some unlikely financial aid from an American TV network, they finally break through into the East, and free 29 people. This is the story of their great escape, the NBC documentary crew that filmed it, and the U.S. government's attempts to block the film from ever seeing the light of day. But more than anything, this is the story of what people will do to be free. Fifty years on, this is still an incredible story - it should be a streaming miniseries that will make people want to read the book - call that the Bridgerton effect. (Plus, I hate podcasts....and radio...I prefer silence. Seriously. It was expertly crafted and thrilling and I found myself having to remind myself to breathe at times even though I knew what the ending was. I will highly recommend it to family, friends, patrons and book clubs in search of wonderful non-fiction, historically relevant read. Take this book to your back yard, porch or balcony and enjoy it and the end of summer/early fall - just wear a tonne of SPF110 as you will lose track of time as you read this. - If we are in the 5th or 6th wave/mutation of COVID19 by then, stay inside: no tan received whilst out there is worth dying for. #maddogsandenglishmen As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 📖📖📖📖📖  

  10. 4 out of 5

    Em Meurer (emcanread)

    Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall by Helena Merriman ⚡️ I was provided an e-ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 🌟: 4 / 5 📚: A real-life thriller about the people who were willing to risk everything by digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. 💭: I went into Tunnel 29 without knowing that it was a fuller version of a massively popular podcast, but now that I’ve finished it, I can absolutely confirm that its popularity is deserv Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall by Helena Merriman ⚡️ I was provided an e-ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 🌟: 4 / 5 📚: A real-life thriller about the people who were willing to risk everything by digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. 💭: I went into Tunnel 29 without knowing that it was a fuller version of a massively popular podcast, but now that I’ve finished it, I can absolutely confirm that its popularity is deserved. Helena Merriman expertly pieced together interviews, news reports, and Stasi reports into a fast-paced narrative, and I really applaud her efforts. All of this being said, I can definitely tell in reading it that this information came first in podcast form— it’s dramatic and frequently reminds readers who people were and where their narratives left off the last time we heard about them. Unfortunately, this also means that it doesn’t translate into print as well as it appears on audio. I had a really hard time getting into this book and did need to make the switch to the audiobook once it became available. After that point, I was hooked and FLEW through this story. With enough drama and espionage to merit its own miniseries, Tunnel 29 tells the story of post-war Germany through the eyes of Joachim Rudolph— his family’s flight to Berlin as the Russians invaded, the division of the city, the rise of the wall, and his daring escape into West Berlin. But when his story of escape could have ended, he decided that his work wasn’t finished. Joining up with the Girrmann Group, West Berlin’s largest escape network, Joachim and many other university students work to engineer a tunnel under the border to bring people to safety. In a story filled with informants, spies, world leaders, and a documentary crew, the building of Tunnel 29 is meticulously detailed. In a political climate filled with more walled borders than ever before, Merriman skillfully combines perspectives on the human cost of one wall and a single attempt to move past it that resonated across the whole world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    N.S. Ford

    This review appeared on my blog - https://nsfordwriter.com - on 19th July 2021. An absolutely gripping account of how people from East Berlin escaped through a tunnel beneath the Wall in 1962. The book is based on a BBC podcast by journalist Helena Merriman and uses sources such as interviews, film and Stasi files to build an amazing narrative. The main character in the book is Joachim Rudolph, whose family was torn apart by the Russians after the defeat of Germany in the Second World War. He mana This review appeared on my blog - https://nsfordwriter.com - on 19th July 2021. An absolutely gripping account of how people from East Berlin escaped through a tunnel beneath the Wall in 1962. The book is based on a BBC podcast by journalist Helena Merriman and uses sources such as interviews, film and Stasi files to build an amazing narrative. The main character in the book is Joachim Rudolph, whose family was torn apart by the Russians after the defeat of Germany in the Second World War. He managed to escape to West Berlin but was willing to risk his life again to help bring people over, with a group of students who dug a tunnel. After we have Joachim’s early years and some historical background, we hear about others, on both sides of the Wall – families and couples desperate to be reunited and also the informants who tried to foil escape plots. We hear about the interrogations, show trials and imprisonments. Another strand is the NBC documentary film, The Tunnel, controversial at the time because the producers helped fund the tunnel diggers. The details suggest that this film, which almost wasn’t aired, may have helped bring President Kennedy to Berlin, where he made his famous speech. You don’t need to know anything about this subject before reading the book, as everything is explained in a clear, non-patronising way. If you already have some knowledge, the book will help add to this. The most impressive aspect is the writing style, which is like a real-life thriller, even using the present tense sometimes to make you feel as if you are right there – in solitary confinement in prison, or crawling along a tunnel, or trying to act normally as you pass armed guards at the checkpoint. The book includes a ‘where are they now?’ section at the end, plus notes, sources, places and bibliography. I didn’t mind not having images (they will be included in the published book) as some can be found online. Highly recommended, a must-read which shows you what people will risk for freedom. Thank you to the publisher Hodder and Stoughton for the advance copy via NetGalley.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vegetable Man

    I came across Helena Merriman’s podcast of Tunnel 29 by chance and found myself riveted from the start, listening to all ten episodes in one go. The story of Tunnel 29, the people involved and those turbulent times leading to the construction of the Wall and beyond were presented in a well constructed blend of drama, interviews, and historical detail tied together by excellent narration. You find yourself drawn into the story, the astonishing bravery and resourcefulness shown by the individuals I came across Helena Merriman’s podcast of Tunnel 29 by chance and found myself riveted from the start, listening to all ten episodes in one go. The story of Tunnel 29, the people involved and those turbulent times leading to the construction of the Wall and beyond were presented in a well constructed blend of drama, interviews, and historical detail tied together by excellent narration. You find yourself drawn into the story, the astonishing bravery and resourcefulness shown by the individuals themselves, the tension seemingly around every corner and ultimately the humanity of the venture. This book tells that story but takes things further, the years of research undertaken by the author is revealed in the level of detail and depth not only of the people but the Stasi secret police, the background of post war Germany and the turn of events of those years of the early 1960s which seem incredible now. The book is ultimately about people’s quest for freedom and the lengths they go to achieve it. It is superbly crafted, enhanced by archive photographs from the time and the people who took centre stage. A highly recommended read, clear your desk and dig in!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    A perfect example of narrative non fiction. I had listened to the podcast by the author on this subject so I did wonder if this book would feel like I had already read it, but it’s the perfect accompaniment and I really recommended listening to the podcast as well. This true story of an escape under the Berlin Wall that tells the story from all those who operated the escape, but also of those who were spying on them and those who wanted out. This reads like a thriller as you race to the end and A perfect example of narrative non fiction. I had listened to the podcast by the author on this subject so I did wonder if this book would feel like I had already read it, but it’s the perfect accompaniment and I really recommended listening to the podcast as well. This true story of an escape under the Berlin Wall that tells the story from all those who operated the escape, but also of those who were spying on them and those who wanted out. This reads like a thriller as you race to the end and even knowing what happened, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as the author breaks down the fateful day hour by hour. What I take away from this book is the bravery of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. People who would do anything to see their loved ones again, even knowing they were risking death, prison and Stasi interrogation for the chance at freedom. This is also a sobering look at how the Berlin Wall become the template for the walls that divide so many cities and countries around the world today, but as one of the key players in this story says; as long as there are walls, there will be people wanting to tear them down…. or tunnel under them.

  14. 4 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    I've seen reviewers who think that Merriman's style is overly dramatic, but it might be because this is the result of a podcast series she did on the BBC. You can listen to it here, but I think that the book is even better because it adds lots of details the podcast cannot. This reads. like a thriller, and I am not surprised to learn that a TV series is planned as well. I've seen reviewers who think that Merriman's style is overly dramatic, but it might be because this is the result of a podcast series she did on the BBC. You can listen to it here, but I think that the book is even better because it adds lots of details the podcast cannot. This reads. like a thriller, and I am not surprised to learn that a TV series is planned as well.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    Very well written story of a tunnel dug from West Berlin, under the wall, and into East Berlin, enabling 29 people to escape. The tunnel serves as the backbone of the book. Merriman does a great job of describing life in both East and West Berlin, the palpable fear of a minor mistake starting WW III, and the fears and motivations of the people who risked everything to dig the tunnel. The writing is descriptive and sensitive and reads very much like an adventure novel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom Musbach

    In this book, a journalist explores an episode in history and highlights its human drama, tension, and suspense in ways that make it feel like you’re reading a thriller. It’s an account of some brave Germans who dug a tunnel under the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s to help people escape East Berlin. The historical context of this episode, including showdowns and possible nuclear threats between Kennedy and Kruschev, also make this a fascinating page-turner. (9.5)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laddie Rollins

    Superior in every way First, Helena Merriman is a great writer. I cared about the participants and felt the emotions. This is a handbook of how to subjugate a large group of people with fear and torture, and also about bravery and sacrifice and love.This has been the best book I have read in years.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pol Ó Muireadhaigh

    Wonderfully Written, it Reads like a thriller. The Audiobook, and its accompanying podcast (BBC Intrigue - highly reccomended) kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I could listen to Helen Merriman reading the phonebook and I bet she'd make it interesting. By far the best book I've read this year. Wonderfully Written, it Reads like a thriller. The Audiobook, and its accompanying podcast (BBC Intrigue - highly reccomended) kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I could listen to Helen Merriman reading the phonebook and I bet she'd make it interesting. By far the best book I've read this year.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Davide Casagrandi

    Loved the book - really moving and touching story, beautifully written. I am Cuban, 53 yo, grew up under the influence of USSR, GDR, and other easter european countries...until 1989, when all I used to believed in (or was taught/forced to believe in) started falling apart.... You probably know what I mean, have to say no more....

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Absolutely the best book I've read all year and maybe quite a while before that. I devoured it in a day. The writer did an impressive job of delivering very upsetting history with facts, relevance and feeling. I wish all historical books were written this well. I also appreciated that the writer leaves her personal politics out of it and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions. Absolutely the best book I've read all year and maybe quite a while before that. I devoured it in a day. The writer did an impressive job of delivering very upsetting history with facts, relevance and feeling. I wish all historical books were written this well. I also appreciated that the writer leaves her personal politics out of it and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert Stableski

    Having lived in Berlin in the 70's, so much of the book brings back memories of specific locations. But even for someone who doesn't know Berlin well, the description of the experiences each of the character had before the wall was built, the impact it had, and the various ways the tunnelers were assisted (many of which I did not know about) make for an engaging read. Having lived in Berlin in the 70's, so much of the book brings back memories of specific locations. But even for someone who doesn't know Berlin well, the description of the experiences each of the character had before the wall was built, the impact it had, and the various ways the tunnelers were assisted (many of which I did not know about) make for an engaging read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Hejduková

    It is an absolutely breathtaking combination of storytelling and factual retelling of the past. I honestly was not bored during any part of the book, it kept me on the edge of my bed, and if it wasn't for the election. I probably would be finished on the same night I started. Merriman did a fantastic job at researching this extraordinary story and combined it together like a novel. Nice job. It is an absolutely breathtaking combination of storytelling and factual retelling of the past. I honestly was not bored during any part of the book, it kept me on the edge of my bed, and if it wasn't for the election. I probably would be finished on the same night I started. Merriman did a fantastic job at researching this extraordinary story and combined it together like a novel. Nice job.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ron Baumer

    A truly inspirational book about overcoming all the odds to escape communism during the Cold War. It is a great book on how the individuals worked to get to freedom. Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    A beautifully written book. It’s a true story that the author and journalist Helena Merriman has unearthed and brought to life and it’s written like a thriller. I couldn’t put it down, truly amazing! Especially as I’m normally not a lover of non-fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Boyle

    Very well written. Suspenseful! Couldn't put it down. Well researched and great wrap up at the end on what happened to the characters. Highly recommend this book. It is entertaining and informative as well since it is nonfiction. Very well written. Suspenseful! Couldn't put it down. Well researched and great wrap up at the end on what happened to the characters. Highly recommend this book. It is entertaining and informative as well since it is nonfiction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samlouras

    An excellent account of events in history we knew so little about. We cannot come close to knowing the fear, tenacity, and willpower it took to create this tunnel. Everyone questioned everyone. No one was safe. Helena turned this historical period into a thriller like no other. A must read!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen King

    A fantastic book based on a true story of a tunnel dug between West and East Berlin in 1961/2. Meticulously researched and narrated - it is a tense thriller which compels you to keep reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Schulz

    Very detailed and informative. I enjoyed learning more about this part of history; from before the wall, during the wall and after the wall. Highly recommend this book! Excellent!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Hejmanowski

    Exceptionally written, great true story!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A superb and gripping read.

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