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Download The Year That Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Year That Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall Audiobook, by Michael Meyer Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (129 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Meyer Narrator: Ed Sala Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2009 ISBN: 9781400184422
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"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" President Ronald Reagan's famous exhortation when visiting Berlin in 1987 has long been widely cited as the clarion call that brought the Cold War to an end. The United States won, so this version of history goes, because Ronald Reagan stood firm against the USSR; American resoluteness brought the evil empire to its knees. Michael Meyer, who was there at the time as a Newsweek bureau chief, begs to differ. In this extraordinarily compelling account of the revolutions that roiled Eastern Europe in 1989, Meyer shows that American intransigence was only one of many factors that provoked world-shaking change. He draws together breathtakingly vivid, on-the-ground accounts of the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the stealth opening of the Hungarian border, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and the collapse of the infamous wall in Berlin. But the most important events, Meyer contends, occurred secretly, in the heroic stands taken by individuals in the thick of the struggle-leaders such as poet and playwright Vaclav Havel in Prague; the Baltic shipwright Lech Walesa; the quietly determined reform prime minister in Budapest, Miklos Nemeth; and the man who privately realized that his empire was already lost and decided, with courage and intelligence, to let it go in peace, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet general secretary of the Communist party. Reporting for Newsweek from the frontlines in Eastern Europe, Meyer spoke to these players and countless others. Alongside their deliberate interventions were also the happenstance and human error of history that are always present when events accelerate to breakneck speed. Meyer captures these heady days in all of their rich drama and unpredictability. In doing so he provides not just a thrilling chronicle of the most important year of the twentieth century but also a crucial refutation of American political mythology and a triumphal misunderstanding of history that seduced the United States into many of the intractable conflicts it faces today. The Year That Changed the World will change not only how we see the past, but also our understanding of America's future. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The twentieth century ended with a bang in 1989 and Michael Meyer has vividly captured the drama, import and energy of that fascinating year…This is a riveting, rollicking read.”

    Fareed Zakaria, New York Times bestselling author of The Future of Freedom

  • The twentieth century ended with a bang in 1989 and Michael Meyer has vividly captured the drama, import and energy of that fascinating year....This is a riveting, rollicking [book]. Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
  • “Brilliant…Meyer recounts momentous events in an accessible, engaging, and intensely dramatic way…History is seldom written with such verve.”

    Washington Post

  • “A coolheaded reconsideration of the revolutionary fervor that tore down the Iron Curtain in 1989…Meyer ‘liberates’ the record with sagacity, precision, and remarkable clarity.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beverley Dubber | 2/18/2014

    " A little slow at times, but worth the read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh Liller | 2/14/2014

    " Good introduction to the end of the Cold War in 1989 in Eastern Europe. The author was on the ground for much of the events in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. His writing style is very readable; his experience as a writer for Newsweek shows. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glen | 2/6/2014

    " An interesting slant on history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Gerald | 2/3/2014

    " A concise yet great read, this book reveals the events that led to the democratic revolutions that toppled Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, as seen from a correspondent's eyes. It's like a classic movie with a plethora of characters. Villains like Honecker and Ceausescu. And heroes like Walesa, Havel, and the lesser known Nemeth. On one side, a repressive system. On the other, peoples yearning for freedom, democracy, and prosperity. A thrilling read about those heady days of 1989 and a reminder not to take those democratic values for granted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shawn | 2/2/2014

    " The most important book I read this year. Blows out of the water - the political spin myth that Reagan won the cold war. Very important as his 100th birthday is upon us and the right wing once again tries to spin their political spin of how right they are. Pun intended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martha | 1/23/2014

    " Fabulous book. I learned so much from this author about a period of history that I lived through, but did not understand. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peregrina651 | 1/18/2014

    " At lot of info here. I'll have to read it again so that I can soak it in. Well done. I've always liked Newsweeks's writers and editors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jsavett1 | 1/14/2014

    " I went on a binge of reading about the fall of the Soviet Union since this year was the anniversary. This one is interesting because the author was a journalist involved in the events. So it's part autobiography/memoir, part straight history. If you don't care about Hungary, don't read this. If you think you want to care about Hungary, dig in. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yesaya.iman | 1/11/2014

    " I used this because I needed the information in the book for a project. The book was extremely helpful in the subject and was very interesting. I rated the book five stars because it was very important for my project. Also, although it was a nonfiction book, I found in very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rayrumtum | 1/5/2014

    " A fascinating look back at the events of 1989 and the fall of Communism. Told from the perspective of a journalist, it is a reminder that the forces of history are not intangible and inexorable. Rather it is the result of individual people making decisions and acting on their own. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 12/28/2013

    " I didn't expect this to be a laugh-out-loud book but it was. Some really absurd things happened along the way to the fall of the Wall. And I had no idea about the incredible role Hungary and its communist leaders played in the demolishing of the Iron Curtain. Fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelsey | 12/20/2013

    " not bad. not bad a all "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ernie | 12/1/2013

    " Being a documentary of a historic event it could have been pretty dry, but the author was there and the interviews held, the key players behind the scenes he had first hand knowledge of, make this quite interesting and sheds new light on the bravery of others that made this all happen. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 11/22/2013

    " Highly recommend to anyone who remembers communist eastern Europe and its collapse in 1989. The story of how this happened is fascinating and different from the conventional wisdom. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 11/19/2013

    " This is a fascinating retelling of the many exciting events in Eastern Europe at the end of 1989. In my memory they took much longer to happen, but in actuality, the pace of history was remarkably fast that year. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 11/30/2012

    " Added greatly to my understanding of the events that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the minimal part the US played in it. Details out the relationship of Czech, Poland and Berlin along with Gorbachev's attitude and policy that led to the final result. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ken | 11/27/2012

    " Very clearly and succinctly tells the story of not just the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Meyer was there, he interviewed many of the participants, and he tells the story clearly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 9/20/2012

    " Amazing how little we know about this monumental event, how for instance a secret cabal in the Hungarian government set it all into motion. A fascinating history of those breathtaking days. The writing is a bit heavy handed at points but quite a tale. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carmen | 3/11/2012

    " This is more than the story of the Berlin wall falling down, it is the behind the scenes story of how the Communist system fell apart. Michael Meyer was privy to many discussions and people that the normal person would never see, so he has all kinds of information. Very interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sam | 12/2/2011

    " Great insight into a historical period that I was alive for but remember basically nothing about... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Di | 11/30/2011

    " The untold story behind the fall of the Berlin Wall, is what the book cover promises, and I enjoyed reading the story I really didn't hear much about back in New Zealand. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ryan | 7/5/2011

    " Meyer brings together many aspects from first-hand knowledge to form a full picture of what was happening in Eastern Europe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bridget | 5/18/2011

    " I found that this was a really informative, engaging book :D I'd take some parts with a grain of salt as the author exaggerates things sometimes, but its generally brilliant and well researched :D "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 S.A. Seggeling | 5/14/2011

    " Very good overview of the events that led up to the fall of the wall. The stories we never heard about on the news and a good look at the world now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 S.a. | 3/24/2011

    " Very good overview of the events that led up to the fall of the wall. The stories we never heard about on the news and a good look at the world now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yesaya.iman | 2/17/2011

    " I used this because I needed the information in the book for a project. The book was extremely helpful in the subject and was very interesting. I rated the book five stars because it was very important for my project. Also, although it was a nonfiction book, I found in very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 9/3/2010

    " Amazing how little we know about this monumental event, how for instance a secret cabal in the Hungarian government set it all into motion. A fascinating history of those breathtaking days. The writing is a bit heavy handed at points but quite a tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 8/30/2010

    " Good introduction to the end of the Cold War in 1989 in Eastern Europe. The author was on the ground for much of the events in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. His writing style is very readable; his experience as a writer for Newsweek shows. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carmen | 5/11/2010

    " This is more than the story of the Berlin wall falling down, it is the behind the scenes story of how the Communist system fell apart. Michael Meyer was privy to many discussions and people that the normal person would never see, so he has all kinds of information. Very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 2/7/2010

    " Added greatly to my understanding of the events that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the minimal part the US played in it. Details out the relationship of Czech, Poland and Berlin along with Gorbachev's attitude and policy that led to the final result. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/24/2010

    " Highly recommend to anyone who remembers communist eastern Europe and its collapse in 1989. The story of how this happened is fascinating and different from the conventional wisdom. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 1/18/2010

    " This is a fascinating retelling of the many exciting events in Eastern Europe at the end of 1989. In my memory they took much longer to happen, but in actuality, the pace of history was remarkably fast that year. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Di | 1/2/2010

    " The untold story behind the fall of the Berlin Wall, is what the book cover promises, and I enjoyed reading the story I really didn't hear much about back in New Zealand. "

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About the Author

Michael Meyer, author and journalist, is currently chief speechwriter for the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. Before that, he worked for Newsweek for two decades, most recently as Europe editor for Newsweek International, where he also oversaw the magazine’s coverage of the Middle East and Asia. Between 1988 and 1992, Meyer was Newsweek‘s bureau chief for Germany, Central Europe, and the Balkans, during which time he wrote more than twenty cover stories on the break-up of Communist Europe and German unification. He is the author of The Alexander Complex, and he lives in New York City with his wife.

About the Narrator

Ed Sala has narrated dozens of audio books throughout his career. His readings include Harlan Coben’s Tell No One, Stephen Sears’ Gettysburg, and Cormac MacCarthy’s Outer Dark.