Iain MacGregor – Checkpoint Charlie


A powerful, fascinating, and groundbreaking history of Checkpoint Charlie, the famous military gate on the border of East and West Berlin where the US confronted the USSR during the Cold War.

East Germany committed a billion dollars to the creation of the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s, an 11-foot-high barrier that consisted of 79 miles of fencing, 300 watchtowers, 250 guard dog runs, and 20 bunkers and was operated around the clock by guards who shot to kill. Over the next 28 years, at least 5,000 people attempted to smash through it, swim across it, tunnel under it, or fly over it.

In November 1989, the East German leadership buckled in the face of a civil revolt that culminated in half a million East Berliners demanding an end to the ban on free movement. The worlds media flocked to capture the moment that, perhaps more than any other, signaled the end of the Cold War. Checkpoint Charlie had been the epicenter of global conflict for nearly three decades.

As the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall approaches in 2019, Iain MacGregor captures the essence of the mistrust, oppression, paranoia, and fear that gripped the world throughout this period. Checkpoint Charlie is about the nerve-wracking confrontation between the West and USSR, highlighting such important global figures as Eisenhower, Stalin, JFK, Nikita Khrushchev, Mao Zedung, Nixon, Reagan, and other politicians of the period. He also includes never-before-heard interviews with the men who built and dismantled the wall; children who crossed it; relatives and friends who lost loved ones trying to escape over it; military policemen and soldiers who guarded the checkpoints; CIA, MI6, and Stasi operatives who oversaw operations across its borders; politicians whose ambitions shaped it; journalists who recorded its story; and many more whose living memories contributed to the full story of Checkpoint Charlie.

Author: Iain MacGregor
Narrator: Dugald Bruce Lockhart
Duration: 10 hours 4 minutes
Released: 19 May 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Language: English

User Review:

commentary prosperous

I enjoyed the early sections of the book when the author visits North American sites with evidence of early man. As he discusses various scientists’ research and findings, he does not clarify that he is only presenting one researcher’s opinion. But it becomes apparent as there are conflicting theories about the migration and social evolution of various groups of people. It definitely made me think about how readily we accept conclusions based on scanty evidence.

There are a LOT of personal stories intertwined. If you do not want to learn about the author’s friends and family, this is not the book for you.

He loses me, however, in the last couple of hours when he goes on and on about Burning Man. I guess it makes him feel cool to be part of that self-indulgent display of waste and hedonism, but to equate it to gatherings of early cultures made me cringe. How poorly it would reflect on today’s society for researchers in a few thousand years to come across the burned out detritus of that disposable party and believe it represented the pinnacle of our culture. Ugh!