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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Kennedy and the Berlin Wall:

Kennedy and the Berlin Wall: "A Hell of a Lot Better than a War"

by W. R. Smyser


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Kennedy and the Berlin Wall tells the full story of the Berlin Crisis that riveted international attention and brought the world to the brink of nuclear warfare as Soviet and American tanks opposed each other on the streets of Berlin.

Drawing on the author's own experience as an American diplomat in Germany during the period, as well as on recently opened Soviet, East German, and American archives, Smyser tells the story of how the fate of a city affected national politics as well as geopolitics. This compelling mix of documentary resources and direct experience of diplomatic negotiations makes the book unique. The author has a keen sense of the critical moment and draws incisive portraits of the politicians and diplomats involved in this drama—most importantly, the two main actors, Kennedy and Khrushchev, but also DeGaulle for the French, Macmillan for the British, and Konrad Adenauer for the West Germans, as well as such critical career diplomats as Dean Rusk and Andrei Gromyko.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780742560901
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 08/16/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 788,400
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

W. R. Smyser served at the U.S. Mission in Berlin from 1960 to 1964 and was Assistant to General Lucius Clay during the Berlin Wall Crisis. He then served at the White House as Senior Staff and later at the United Nations as Assistant Secretary-General. He has been a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Henry Alfred Kissinger Scholar at the Library of Congress. He has written numerous books and articles on Germany and Europe.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Ich Bin Ein Berliner"
Chapter 2: "A Bone in My Throat"
Chapter 3: "Let the Word Go Forth"
Chapter 4: "Alas, Mr. Ambassador, We Shall Die Together"
Chapter 5: "I never Met a Man like That"
Chapter 6: "This Is the Answer!"
Chapter 7: "The East Germans Have Done Us a Favor"
Chapter 8: "I Am Not Afraid of Escalation"
Chapter 9: "The Game Continues"
Chapter 10: "We'll Talk the Problem to Death"
Chapter 11: "This May End in a Big War"
Chapter 12: "Treaties Are like Maidens and Roses"
Chapter 13: "We'll Never Have another Day like This"
Chapter 14: "Our Hope is the Ami"
Chapter 15: "We Are the People"

What People are Saying About This

Garrick Utley

As a diplomat, Richard Smyser advised Gen. Lucius Clay. As a young German-speaking American he heard and faced the fears of the Berliners. Now, as a scholar, he tells the gripping story of the events that led to the Wall and the debate within the Kennedy administration over how to respond. He also describes how Kennedy found his 'voice' when he went to West Berlin and saw the Wall.

Karl Kaiser

A superbly written study of John F. Kennedy's policies on Berlin . . . with fascinating new insights into the motives and statesmanship of [those] policies. This book provides new evidence how the survival of this enclave of the democratic world inside the Communist empire contributed to the West's victory in the Cold War.

Egon Bahr

A friend of Berlin expertly pulls together new insights about the building of the Wall, the Checkpoint Charlie confrontation, and the tensions between Kennedy and Clay. He also shows the key Berlin connection to the Cuba crisis and describes the preparation for Kennedy's 'ich bin ein Berliner' speech.

Daniel Schorr

Smyser illuminates the crisis over the Berlin wall and the way an untried President Kennedy maneuvered to avert an armed collision with the Soviets. I covered that crisis on the ground in Berlin in 1961. From this prodigiously researched book I now better understand the wider context of the crisis.

Henry Kissinger

The most comprehensive description of the Berlin Crisis of 1961. Well written and thoughtful, [Smyser's book] describes how Kennedy and Krushchev maneuvered at the edge of an abyss.

Horst Teltschik

Deeply impressive, this book recalls Kennedy's historic statement 'ich bin ein Berliner' and General Clay's cooperation with Kennedy to save Berlin. It should be read by all who want to know how Germany and Berlin are now free and united.

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