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Stasiland Audiobook

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (241 )
5 star
 (118)
4 star
 (77)
3 star
 (35)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.3 (186 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (185 )
5 star
 (92)
4 star
 (62)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Aaron Singapore, Singapore 05-11-16
    Aaron Singapore, Singapore 05-11-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Good details, too much author's emotions."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim 03-30-16
    Tim 03-30-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    69
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    26
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    2
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    Story
    "Utterly fascinating book. Very good narrator."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Franklin 03-12-16
    Franklin 03-12-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good read with important lessons"

    Slightly rambling with elaborate descriptions i found slightly excessive bit overall a good book and an easy listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 02-15-16
    Robert 02-15-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful! A story from behind the wall."

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JASON 12-15-15
    JASON 12-15-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "self indulgent and opinionated rambling"

    what is a very interesting topic was ruined by the rambling, self indulgent use of language and imagery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cardis Marina, CA, United States 04-23-14
    Cardis Marina, CA, United States 04-23-14 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "boring"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Anna Funder again?

    unsure


    How could the performance have been better?

    unsure


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I did not finish it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Lindon, UT, United States 11-05-13
    Shawn Lindon, UT, United States 11-05-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Could not stand narrator"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Thornwood, NY, United States 08-22-13
    Amazon Customer Thornwood, NY, United States 08-22-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "A must read for history buffs"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvie earlwood, Australia 05-12-13
    Sylvie earlwood, Australia 05-12-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "wonderful"
    If you could sum up Stasiland in three words, what would they be?

    depth interest truth


    What did you like best about this story?

    topic of the stories
    variety of aspects approached
    how she depicts each of the people she interviewed and comments
    honesty in the approach


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the opening chapter immediately captivates and wants you to listen further


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    the story of the baby abandoned on the other side of the wall


    Any additional comments?

    fantastic to be recommended

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Fort Collins, CO, United States 04-23-13
    Robert Fort Collins, CO, United States 04-23-13 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book, not too fond of narrator"
    Where does Stasiland rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Stasiland to and why?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Denica Fairman’s performances?

    No, she does this terrible male voice, furthermore the German voice is a little tiresome.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Stasiland is full of sad and depressing stories; though depending on your sense of humor you may find much that is funny.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Pravin
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    2/7/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping account of the real people"
    What did you like most about Stasiland?

    Good pace. Engaging. Very keen to continue listening


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Stasiland?

    The story about her landlady and how her career seems to have been influenced by the Stasi


    What about Denica Fairman’s performance did you like?

    Well read and acted


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Lives made and lost behind the iron curtain!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Z.S.
    11/5/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb"

    Amazing narration. Great writing, sad but real stories.
    Recommend to anyone interested in modern history, especially Cold War and Berlin during the wall.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Aaron Fuller
    United Kingdom
    5/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good, and excellently performed"
    Would you listen to Stasiland again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Denica Fairman – was your favourite?

    As above.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pamela
    11/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A totally compelling listening experience"
    If you could sum up Stasiland in three words, what would they be?

    Strong, thought-provoking.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul S. Turner
    birmingham ,england
    6/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Anna and the wall"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    As westerners we have no idea how free we are till you start learning about the Stasi


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Stasiland?

    Tunnels and the escapes


    Have you listened to any of Denica Fairman’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    First book of hers


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    We are watching you!!!


    Any additional comments?

    Yet another great book that just lasts long enough

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amanda
    Gisborne, Australia
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Gripping"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tony
    Southport, United Kingdom
    1/28/10
    Overall
    "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

    5 of 16 people found this review helpful

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