The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill


Product Details

Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Publish Date
5.2 X 7.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

GREG MITCHELL is the author of a dozen books, including The Campaign of the Century, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, a New York Times Notable Book; So Wrong for So Long; and, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America and Who Owns Death?. Mitchell has edited several national magazines, including Editor & Publisher, and he blogs actively about media and politics for the Huffington Post and other outlets. He recently coproduced the acclaimed documentary Following the Ninth. He lives in the New York City area.


"The greatest strength of The Tunnels is in the details... Days after finishing the book I could not escape one of Mitchell's images--of a hat with a small hole in it landing softly on the Western side of the border while its owner's dead body fell back into the East, waiting for the guards to hurry it out of sight. For those who see walls as the answer to policy problems, this book serves as a stark reminder that barriers can never cut people off entirely but only succeed in driving them underground."

"Engaging... the book vividly describes the harrowing conditions under which strong young men based in West Berlin dug the tunnels... Mitchell's interviews with the tunnelers, couriers and escapees put a human face on this dramatic experience...These are heart-racing tales, and Mitchell -- author of several books on U.S. politics and history -- narrates them with emotion and evocative detail... The political and media angles in The Tunnels are indeed intriguing... The intense drama and risks involved for the tunnelers and the escapees offer a compelling context for today's refu-gee crisis."

"Fascinating and deeply researched...Mitchell's book provides a welcome reminder of the ingenuity and courage that people can display when politics and walls separate them from loved ones and a better life. But it's also a testament to just how forcefully even ostensibly liberal administrations can suppress the media."

"A story with so much inherent drama it sounds far-fetched even for a Hollywood thriller...Mitchell tells a kaleidoscopic cold war story from 1962, recreating a world seemingly on the edge of a third world war. "

"Shows the trade-off behind the scenes at one of the most pivotal moments in the standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union... A fascinating and complex picture of the interplay between politics and media in the Cold War era."

"A terrific new book about a heretofore obscure episode regarding the wall in 1962. A must for all the JFK fans."

"Thrilling and meticulously documented...Mitchell masterfully guides the reader through a labyrinth of details, intertwining the narratives to show how the tunnelers, the NBC crew (led by correspondent Piers Anderton) and the politicians played their parts on the stage of history...A fitting tribute to the brave men and women who did all they could to tear down the Wall."

"Mitchell delivers a gripping, blow-by-blow account of one grueling dig and dramatic rescue...Mitchell's tense, fascinating account reveals how the U.S. undermined a freedom struggle for the sake of diplomacy."
--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

"The author ably captures the dedication of the men and women trying to get family, friends, and complete strangers to freedom... A gripping page-turner that thrills like fiction."

"The Tunnels is one of the great untold stories of the Cold War. Brilliantly researched and told with great flair, Greg Mitchell's non-fiction narrative reads like the best spy thriller, something Le Carré might have imagined. Easily the best book I've read all year."
--ALEX KERSHAW, author of Avenue of Spies

"Every hour of my year in East Berlin--1963/64--the escape tunnels beneath our feet were being dug. This is their story: those who dug them, those who used them and those who betrayed them to the Stasi. Fascinating--and it is all true."
--FREDERICK FORSYTH, author of The Odessa File and Day of the Jackal

"Greg Mitchell is the best kind of historian, a true storyteller. The Tunnels is a gripping tale about heroic individuals defying an authoritarian state at a critical moment in the Cold War. A brilliantly told thriller--but all true."
--KAI BIRD, author of The Good Spy

"This is not just an exciting escape narrative, but also an extraordinarily revealing political thriller, centering on ruthless government attempts to control what the public gets to see. Mitchell presents us with a radically changed perspective on one of the Cold War's most dramatic episodes. His book is both priceless as history and just about impossible to beat for sheer narrative grip--a rare achievement."
--FREDERICK TAYLOR, author of The Berlin Wall and Dresden

"Eye-opening and an exhilarating read. Not knowing who made it out of the East, and who was arrested, or worse, kept me glued to this book until the last page. The involvement of the Stasi, two American TV networks and America's State Department contribute to the historical perspective of this important work."
--ANTONIO MENDEZ, co-author of Argo

"When you have read the last page of Greg Mitchell's The Tunnels you will close the book--but not until then."
--ALAN FURST, author of A Hero of France and Night Soldiers

"Greg Mitchell has written a riveting story focusing on one of the most powerful documentaries ever broadcast on television, NBC's The Tunnel. Those of us who saw it that December night in 1962 have never forgotten the experience. Now Mitchell, an exemplary journalist, goes beyond what the cameras saw, deep into the political dynamics of Cold War Berlin. John Le Carré couldn't have done it better."

"Mitchell excels at describing the idealistic men and women who built the passageways that brought scores of refugees to safety, revealing the wall's symbolic importance and how it endured throughout the Cold War. He provides interviews with many important players who contribute to the fast-paced narrative."

"The Tunnels uncovers an unexplored underworld of Cold War intrigue. As nuclear tensions grip Berlin, a whole realm of heroes and villains, of plot and counterplot, unfolds beneath the surface of the city. True historical drama."
--RON ROSENBAUM, author of Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars

"A compelling look at a wrenching chapter of the Cold War that chronicles the desperate flights for freedom beneath the streets of post-war Berlin and the costs that politics extracted in lives."
--BARRY MEIER, author of Missing Man

"Enormously dramatic and extremely insightful."