In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards, the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany.
In a country where the headquarters of the secret police could become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories. She meets Miriam, who, as a 16-year-old, might have started World War III; she visits the man who painted the line that became the Berlin Wall; and she gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist."
Each enthralling story depicts what it's like to live in Berlin as the city knits itself back together - or fails to. This is a history full of emotion, attitude, and complexity.
©2003 Anna Funder; (P)2009 Audible
"A brilliant and necessary book about oppression and history...Here is someone who knows how to tell the truth." (Evening Standard - Books of the Year)
"A journey into the bizarre, scary, secret history of the former East Germany that is both relevant and riveting." (Sunday Times Travel Books of the Year)
Very interesting piece of history.
The author spent too much time writing her feelings into the book. This book is more about her feels than a history piece.
The narration was OK, but the terrible attempts at various voices was distracting.
At first I was a bit turned off because the book seemed to be a little bit too autobiographical for my tastes. However, later on, after reading more of the book, I changed my mind about this. In a few places the autobiographical stance gave the stories some emotional depth.
I had never heard these stories before. The author is to be commended for collecting these personal stories and presenting them here.
The only weakness of the narrator was her lame attempt to affect a deep male-sounding voice. On the whole, the narration was great. When she reads in her natural, unaffected voice, she does a fine job. The narration was not distracting. I was able to focus on the author's train of thought.
I could not believe such stories being told through this book. A world I wish to never be apart of, a world that I have learned through this book. It really open my eyes. A beautiful book!
This book was not engaging. After many starts and stops, I finally gave up. I was disappointed because I really wanted to like this book.
I did not finish it.
I felt like the narrator really got in the way. It was like Mary Poppins reading to me. Very distracting. The story should have been really interesting but I found it dry and boring. Not impressed.
For the generation that grew up after the cold war, this is must read. It is unbelievable the paranoia that consumed the GDR. The narration was not the greatest as german words are used numerous times without a proper English meaning. Overall though a great read.
depth interest truth
topic of the stories
variety of aspects approached
how she depicts each of the people she interviewed and comments
honesty in the approach
the opening chapter immediately captivates and wants you to listen further
the story of the baby abandoned on the other side of the wall
fantastic to be recommended
I've read this book and listened to it. It reads really well, perhaps a little better than the audio book if you are familiar with German.
Stasiland like many other history texts tells an excellent account of people's lives in the past. However Stasiland reads a little less like a historical text and more like a personal account, because it is. Anna Funder injects her own personal experience in Germany and her interactions, feelings, and opinions in a way that is very informal and accessible.
No, she does this terrible male voice, furthermore the German voice is a little tiresome.
Stasiland is full of sad and depressing stories; though depending on your sense of humor you may find much that is funny.
"Very good, and excellently performed"
I would, and indeed have, because as well as telling a good story, there is some excellent, descriptive writing, and I wasn't surprised to hear that the author has since published some fiction.
Not technically a character as she's a real person, but the most complex was Julia, the author's landlady. However, I think part of the reason that she had so much depth was because of the excellent way in which she was narrated.
Unsurprisingly, the stories of some of the former East Germans evoked sympathy, but I was a little more surprised that another major emotion that came through was the author's frustration at certain aspects of living in modern day Germany. A scene when she goes swimming at a public pool, only to be told that she cannot swim because she has come at the wrong time, or the right time of the wrong day, could have been something out of the BBC programme 'From our own correspondent', which is a favourite of mine.
I can understand the comments that some reviewers have made about the relatively large amount of material about the author's life, rather than that of her subjects. But I didn't find that these sections made it a worse book, because those sections were well-written.
One minor criticism is that I don't believe that the author was really able to get into the heads of the former Stasi officers that she interviewed. But this would obviously be a very difficult thing to do, and perhaps impossible given the very different upbringings and characters that the author and the interview subjects would have had.
"A totally compelling listening experience"
Anna Funder herself. I thought she was incredibly brave, the way she interviewed some of the top Stasi people, some still dangerous. Also, the sensitive way she interviewed the shattered victims. The whole system of government she describes, is one of institutionalized sadism, to a degree which appears almost satanic. The lengths the Stasi were willing to go to on the slightest suspicion of some disloyalty to the State, real or imagined, literally beggar the imagination. I listened twice, mightily impressed with the way some of the survivors managed to rebuild their lives. Also, there was a message: a police state can happen whenever ordinary people stop defending their rights. Everyone needs to read this.
When Koch describes how he and his wife remarried after his wife was forced by the Stasi to divorce him. They threatened to take her child away from her if she did not, so she unwillingly agreed. Luckily their little son described to his embittered father what really went on, and they eventually managed to reunite.
When Frau Paul refused to inform on the student who helped people escape to the West. As a result, she was not permitted to visit her sick baby son in hospital on the other side of the Wall, whom she had not seen for a long time. It was hateful the way they played with her and gives one a glimpse of the depths they would resort to.
This is a book written by a highly intelligent, perceptive woman. I plan to buy the book, it's something I'd like to keep.
"Anna and the wall"
As westerners we have no idea how free we are till you start learning about the Stasi
Tunnels and the escapes
First book of hers
We are watching you!!!
Yet another great book that just lasts long enough
This is a tale of fact being stranger than fiction. Funder does a great job in giving an insight into the machinations of the Stasi in the DDR. Compelling listening.
"More a Slepyland than Spys and slipping free"
Story told by old people years after the events and not well researched. Every one seams to remembers twitching curtains and people in the shadows. The truth is too shrouded in folk stories and better done by TV and other books written years ago.
A number of flat and not that interesting tales told by old forgetfully East Germans looking for a reason why they did not try and get out when they could, or how heroic they where against the evil Starsie communists.
Having travelled through this region when a young boy I have heard it all before in greater detail and through the fog of Vodka and cigarettes. Better buy a ticket to Berlin and find some old madame get her drunk and listen to her tales they will be far more interesting and spiced up by the venue. Or buy this audio book and be disapoint by this tale told by a lady with nothing to do
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