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Download Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth Audiobook, by Frederick Kempe Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.06 out of 54.06 out of 54.06 out of 54.06 out of 54.06 out of 5 4.06 (18 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Frederick Kempe Narrator: Paul Hecht Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2012 ISBN: 9781461803829
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A former Wall Street Journal editor and the current president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, Frederick Kempe draws on recently released documents and personal interviews to re-create the powder keg that was 1961 Berlin.

In June 1961, Nikita Khrushchev called Berlin “the most dangerous place on earth.” He knew what he was talking about.

Much has been written about the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later, but the Berlin Crisis of 1961 was more decisive in shaping the Cold War—and more perilous. It was in that hot summer that the Berlin Wall was constructed, which would divide the world for another twenty-eight years. Then two months later, and for the first time in history, American and Soviet fighting men and tanks stood arrayed against each other, only yards apart. One mistake, one nervous soldier, one overzealous commander and the tripwire would be sprung for a war that could go nuclear in a heartbeat.

On one side was a young, untested US president still reeling from the Bay of Pigs disaster and a humiliating summit meeting that left him grasping for ways to respond. It would add up to be one of the worst first-year foreign policy performances of any modern president. On the other side was a Soviet premier hemmed in by the Chinese, East Germans, and hardliners in his own government. With an all-important Party Congress approaching, he knew Berlin meant the difference not only for the Kremlin’s hold on its empire but also for his own hold on the Kremlin.

Neither man really understood the other; both tried cynically to manipulate events. And so, week by week, they crept closer to the brink.

Based on a wealth of new documents and interviews, filled with fresh—sometimes startling—insights, written with immediacy and drama, Berlin 1961 is an extraordinary look at key events of the twentieth century, with powerful applications to these early years of the twenty-first.

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Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ashley | 2/9/2014

    " I'm disappointed with this book. The editing was horrible - "the senator from Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona"... factually wrong at parts concerning the personal life of JFK.. John Kennedy Jr. was NEVER called John-John... The author had, from my perspective, a lack of respect that both Khrushchev and Kennedy deserve regarding their political power and the decisions they made. Honestly, I'd like to see the author do a better job at running a super power. Condescending throughout the whole book... AND his opinion was peppered throughout!!! Did the author miss the memo that non-fiction is supposed to be opinion free. The person reading their work is obviously smart enough to come up with their own conclusions. Shame on this author.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie | 2/2/2014

    " If you were only a child in 1961, but remember being asked by your teacher at school to see how fast you could run home from the school as I was, this book will fill in all the events (in an almost daily recap) that made that year such a dangerous one in world events. Also helped me understand the brashness of Kruschev, the immaturity of Kennedy, the big egos of both and what that would mean for an unstable and dangerous year in history. How could the eyes of our leaders be so dimmed as to not see what was coming? An excellent read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mickey Mantle | 1/29/2014

    " Fantastic. John Kennedy put to the 2 year test by the Soviets. Berlin and Cuba. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bradley Skaught | 1/28/2014

    " A missed opportunity on many levels. The Berlin wall and all of the events that surround its creation are fascinating, but, strangely, not particularly momentus. The Vienna summit is an event and the wall going up is another explosive moment, but the rest is diplomacy and Kempe is not well enough equipped to give that much dramatic shape or momentum. Kempe's attempt to weave in the personal stories of German citizens whose lives were affected by the Wall is admirable, but it's done in a somewhat haphazard and peripheral way -- the human element is not compellingly intergarted into the story. Kempe's relentless Kennedy-bashing is tiresome, too, and ends up coming off as a personal/ideological grudge that, ultimately, made me distrust the general tenor of the book. Some interesting information, and the section dealing with the actual construction of the wall is fascinating, but ultimately a story that will hopefully be better told by someone else. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Garnett | 1/19/2014

    " This is a gripping piece of cold war history written as a series of date-place stamped 'news bulletins', with interspersed (mostly tragic) personal stories. Kempe is critical of Kennedy's handling of the building of the Berlin wall, and is clearly more in agreement with the military hawks of the era. However, this perspective doesn't come across as an agenda (until perhaps the very end) and I never got the impression that he was building a straw man. I would have liked a bit more details of the Berlin blockade (1948-1949) and the Berlin uprising of 1953, but this book is already pretty long, and the salient issues pertaining to the events of 1961 are covered. The take home message for political observers at all levels: Nothing is as it seems. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 1/16/2014

    " What a readable history of the relationship between Kennedy and Khruschev and how the Cold War might have been averted. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 1/11/2014

    " Very good revisionist history. Targets Kennedy as responsible for Soviet actions in Berlin. Makes a strong case and is an interesting and informative read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 12/25/2013

    " Extraordinarily in-depth look at a crucial time in Berlin's (and modern Europe's) history, but a compelling read all the same "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 12/14/2013

    " Did not realize how ineffective JFK was during the Berlin crisis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard Bravman | 11/26/2013

    " Just started this, but am finding it a fascinating story of a time, place and characters with echoes and parallels in the here and now... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew Salmon | 11/12/2013

    " A fascinating, detailed account of the heightening of the Cold War. If you are into this time in history, then I recommend the book highly. Great detail, thorough research. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James Folan | 9/21/2013

    " A very readable enlightening account of diplomatic manoeuvres during a crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe and defined international relations for decades afterwards. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob Dirienzo | 8/23/2013

    " This was a book that I actually found difficult to put down and stop reading. Overall it was excellent! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Burky Ford | 3/5/2013

    " UNIQUE Insight! Look for big revelations in small details!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan Jenkins | 5/29/2012

    " Excellent and epic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 9/26/2011

    " Kempe takes a very tense historical time and makes it into a readable novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edwinna | 6/13/2011

    " I have this on my NOOK and the enhancements are fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecka | 5/9/2011

    " The best Fred has ever written! "

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About the Author

Frederick Kempe is president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank and public policy group based in Washington, DC. He is an award-winning journalist, a New York Times bestselling author, and a regular commentator on television and radio programs in Europe and the United States. He spent almost thirty years with the Wall Street Journal as a columnist and assistant managing editor; he also served as Wall Street Journal Europe’s editor and associate publisher for seven years. During his time as an editor, Kempe won many distinguished awards and honors, including the Harold Wincott Award for UK Business Journal of the Year, the Media Tenor Award, and two Pulitzer Prizes won collectively with his news team. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and is also a graduate of the University of Utah. He has received a number of honorary doctorates from universities around the world and is currently a fellow at Oxford University’s Said School of Business. Kempe also serves on a number of boards of directors, including the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the Transatlantic Policy Network. Currently, he lives with his wife and their daughter in Washington, DC.

About the Narrator

Paul Hecht’s long career in audio books spans dozens of titles and authors as varied as Ray Bradbury and Gore Vidal, Jack Finney and Thomas Mann. He has recorded such books as Bob Dole’s One Soldier’s Story and Alexander McCall Smith’s Portuguese Irregular Verbs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. Hecht’s theater career in New York includes many Broadway and television credits.