1989: The Berlin Wall: My Part in its Downfall

1989: The Berlin Wall: My Part in its Downfall

It was an event that changed history, bringing the Cold War to a sudden, unexpected end and seeing the collapse not just of Communism but of the Soviet Union itself. Stereotypes disappeared overnight, and the maps of a continent had to be redrawn. Peter Millar was in the middle of it, literally; caught in Checkpoint Charlie between bemused East German border guards and drunk western revellers prematurely celebrating the end of an era.

For over a decade Millar had been living not just in East Berlin but also Warsaw and Moscow. In this engaging, garrulous, bibulous memoir we follow him on a journey into the heart of Cold War Europe. From the hitchhiking trip that helped him discover a secret path into a career in journalism, through the carousing bars of Fleet street in the seventies, to the East Berlin corner pub with its eclectic cast of customers who taught him the truth about living on the wrong side of the Wall. We relive the night it all disintegrated, gain insight into the domino effect that swept through Eastern Europe in its aftermath and find out how the author felt as he opened his Stasi files and discovered which of his friends had – or hadn’t – been spying on him.

'Fastidious readers who expect reporters to be a mere lens on events will be shocked at the amount of personal detail, including sexual antics and drinking habits of his colleagues in what now seems a Juvenalian ago of dissolute British journalism. The author has a knack for befriending interesting people and tracking down important ones. He weaves their words with his clear-eyed reporting of events into a compelling narrative about the end of the cruel but bungling East German regime’ Economist

‘Part autobiography, part history primer and part Fleet Street gossip column, Millar cast aside the old chestnuts and set about reporting on the reality of life under communism … Energetic and passionate.' The Sunday Times

Price £: 
9.99
Paperback
Published: 
01 Nov 2014
ISBN: 
9781910050262
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About the author

  • Peter Millar

    Peter Millar is an award-winning British journalist, author and translator, and has been a correspondent for Reuters, Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph. He was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year for his reporting on the dying stages of the Cold War, his account of which – 1989: The Berlin Wall, My Part in its Downfall – was named ‘best read’ by The EconomistAn inveterate wanderer since his youth, Peter Millar grew up in Northern Ireland and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. Before and during his university years, he hitchhiked and travelled by train throughout most of Europe, including behind the Iron Curtain to Moscow and Leningrad, as well as hitchhiking barefoot from Dubrovnik to Belfast after being robbed in the former Yugoslavia. He has had his eyelashes frozen in the coldest inhabited place on Earth - Oymyakon, eastern Siberia, where temperatures reach minus 71ºC, was fried at 48ºC in Turkmenistan, dipped his toes in the Mississippi, the Mekong and the Nile, the Dniepr and the Danube, the Rhine and the Rhone, the Seine and the Spree. He crisscrossed the USA by rail for his book All Gone To Look for America and rattled down the spine of Cuba for Slow Train to Guantanamo. He has lived and worked in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow, attended the funerals of two Soviet leaders, been blessed six times by Pope John Paul II (which would have his staunch Protestant ancestors spinning in their graves), and he has survived multiple visits to the Munich Oktoberfest and the enduring agony of supporting Charlton Athletic. Peter speaks French, German, Russian and Spanish, and is married with two grown-up sons. He splits his time between Oxfordshire and London, and anywhere else that will have him.

    Titles by Peter Millar

    The Germans and Europe by Peter Millar