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  • Checkmate in Berlin

  • The Cold War Showdown That Shaped the Modern World
  • By: Giles Milton
  • Narrated by: Giles Milton
  • Length: 13 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (132 ratings)

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Checkmate in Berlin

By: Giles Milton
Narrated by: Giles Milton
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Summary

A compulsive listen about the battle for Berlin and control of the Western world in the aftermath of the Second World War from 'the master of narrative history'.

Berlin was in ruins when Soviet forces fought their way towards the Reichstag in the spring of 1945. Streets were choked with rubble, power supplies severed and the population close to starvation. The arrival of the Soviet army heralded yet greater terrors: the city's civilians were to suffer rape, looting and horrific violence. Worse still, they faced a future with neither certainty nor hope.

Berlin's fate had been sealed four months earlier at the Yalta Conference. The city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be carved up between the victorious powers - British, American, French and Soviet. On paper, it seemed a pragmatic solution; in reality, it fired the starting gun for the Cold War. 

As soon as the four powers were no longer united by the common purpose of defeating Germany, they reverted to their pre-war hostility and suspicion. Rival systems, rival ideologies and rival personalities ensured that Berlin became an explosive battleground. The ruins of this once-great city were soon awash with spies, gangsters and black-marketeers, all of whom sought to profit from the disarray. 

For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals - British, American and Soviet - fought an intensely personal battle over the future of Germany, Europe and the entire free world.

Checkmate in Berlin tells this exhilarating, high-stakes tale of grit, skullduggery and raw power. From the high politics of Yalta to the desperate scramble to break the Soviet stranglehold of Berlin with the greatest aerial operation in history, this is the epic story of the first battle of the Cold War and how it shaped the modern world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Giles Milton (P)2021 Hodder & Stoughton Limited
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Checkmate in Berlin

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • EJ
  • 25-10-21

Average

Not entirely accurate. Read Volker Ullrich - ‘Eight Days in May How Germanys War Ended’ instead.

2 people found this helpful

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Bad pronunciation

A pity that the narrator cannot pronounce the German names properly when talking about names of people and places.

2 people found this helpful

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Detailed history at its best

I cannot praise this book enough. When I first bought it I thought it would be the entire story of the divided Berlin & 13 hours cannot tell that 44 year history. But I was so wrong, what Giles does here is in absolute detail tell the story of the first 4 post war years of that troubled city. For anyone with any interest in either WW2 or post-war Europe, this book is a must. It tells the story of the origins of what was to become The Cold War, where it all started. The research and the the telling of that, in an entertaining way, is second to none.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent at every level

Fascinating and very accessible history of the events that shaped post war Europe and established the roots of the Cold War that followed. All told with great humanity in a fascinating, fast paced narrative history. Thoroughly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Simply Outstanding Listen

I saw a recommendation for this on the web, not an author I'm familiar with, but read the blurb & immediately purchased.

Being mid-point through another book, this was going to tie up with a fortnight in Devon. I have a strong interest in The Cold War, 20th century conflict, espionage, cyber & technology security, both factual & to a lesser degree, fictional.

This book is amongst the best I've listened to. It's forensically researched, bobs along at a perfect pace & is expertly narrated.

It weaves through the widely known facts about immediate/early post-war Germany whist embroidered with some rarities (for the layman). It paints the background for so much of what followed.

In short, if you have an interest in this genre, buy this book. Eagerly awaiting the next project from Giles Milton.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MW
  • 09-01-23

Great book

I really recommend this book, I found the topic, contents and delivery of the narrator engaging to make an enjoyable book to listen to

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Flying Moscow to Berlin in 90 minutes?

This seems a well researched book spoiled when he talks of flying from Moscow to Berlin in 90 minutes. In 1945? He repeats the surely false story of a photo journalist flying back to Moscow to get a flag for his picture. Just does not seem realistic. Otherwise fine.

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Highly recommended.

A piece of modern history I knew very little of until this very interesting and informative book.

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An insight into a overlooked part of history

Given everything currently going on in Ukraine, my attention was drawn to a recommendation for this title. And it did not disappoint. It clearly illustrates that the current Russian attitudes and behaviour are rooted deep in their Soviet history and WW2 experiences. It also makes clear how easily the whole of Germany could have been subsumed into the Eastern Bloc in the immediate post-war period. Thankfully, due to some strong-willed people from the US and UK this did not come to pass. A lesson to be remembered.

The description of the Berlin Airlift is especially powerful and highly informative. Both in terms of the logistical achievements of the Western Allies, but also the deprivations endured by Berliners. Surely, there is enough material there for a 'Band of Brothers' type drama production of this key historic moment when so much rested upon its outcome.

In terms of narration, Giles Milton does well narrating his own book. His style ensures an easy listening experience, though perhaps too two-dimensional at times and he frequently struggles with some of the place and name pronunciations.

Overall, very much recommended.

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Informative

Learned many things about the second world war and what was happening in berlin and the airlift.