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

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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:
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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.

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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

  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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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.