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The Tunnels

Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)
Regular price: $31.95
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Publisher's Summary

A thrilling Cold War narrative of superpower showdowns, media suppression, and two escape tunnels beneath the Berlin Wall.  

In the summer of 1962, the year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture, and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the wall. Then, two US television networks heard about the secret projects and raced to be first to document them from the inside. 

NBC and CBS funded two separate tunnels in return for the right to film the escapes, planning spectacular prime-time specials. President John F. Kennedy, however, was wary of anything that might spark a confrontation with the Soviets, having said, “A wall is better than a war” and even confessing to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “We don’t care about East Berlin.” JFK approved unprecedented maneuvers to quash both documentaries, testing the limits of a free press in an era of escalating nuclear tensions.

As Greg Mitchell’s riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Germany’s top target for arrest; the Stasi informer who betrays the “CBS tunnel”; the American student who aided the escapes; an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English channel; and the young East Berliner who fled with her baby, then married one of the tunnelers. 

The Tunnels captures the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police as US networks prepared to “pay for play” but were willing to cave to official pressure, the White House was eager to suppress historic coverage, and ordinary people in dire circumstances became subversive. The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive listen whose themes still reverberate. 

©2016 Greg Mitchell (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)

"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)

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • maria
  • sherwood, oregon, United States
  • 11-28-16

captivating

some parts had me on the edge of my seat . It WAS interesting as many of the people named are well known today

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

People risking their lives for freedom

A history we should never forget. Very alarming to know how many of their fellow citizens would turn into informants

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just a little bit too long

Would you try another book from Greg Mitchell and/or John Lee?

Yes

Would you be willing to try another book from Greg Mitchell? Why or why not?

Yes. The book was well written and provided a solid history.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

John Lee's reading was professional and done well.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Possibly

Any additional comments?

The book was good, and I enjoyed it, but I was definitely ready for it to end by the time I got to the last 3 or 4 chapters.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Horrors of a Narrator

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This possibly good book is killed by a horrible narrator. Why don't they check on these narrators... just plain horrible - maybe audiobooks are not the way to go.... very VERY distracting from the story... this book is being returned.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful