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Brandenburg Gate Hardcover – March 15, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (March 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139405
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in East Germany during the bleak, waning days of 1989, this stand-alone thriller from British author Porter (A Spy's Life) combines impeccable research with compelling characters caught up in the broad sweep of fascinating historical events. The Stasi want art scholar Dr. Rudi Rosenharte to take part in a dangerous mission involving a former lover Rudi knows is dead, but who the Stasi thinks is not only alive but also harboring vital state secrets. Rudi has little choice, since the Stasi are holding Rudi's brother, Konrad, and his family hostage. Rudi, an ex-Stasi agent himself, clandestinely enlists the aid of the British SIS, the CIA and even the KGB as he pits all of these agencies against one another in an effort to smuggle Konrad and family across the border to the safety of the West. Readers will know that in a few weeks the Wall will be torn down, but at the time, as Porter makes clear, this was not a foregone conclusion, and death and disaster, as in Tiananmen Square, was a real possibility. It's easy to see why this riveting read won the CWA's Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Strangers meet under the guise of old lovers in the streets of Trieste, while enemies watch from the shadows, and a mysterious Pole utters a garbled name as he plunges into the harbor, dead. Ah, the paranoiac embrace of espionage! Porter pushes all the right buttons in this solid spy novel set in the months before German reunification. Art historian and aging roue Rudi Rosenharte becomes a pawn in an unpredictable endgame between the increasingly desperate Stasi, who hold his twin brother hostage, and Western intelligence agencies seeking to uncover Islamic terrorist cells harbored by East Germany. Hindsight tells us that momentous changes are in the offing, but will the fall of the Wall save our hero, or crush him? Although a mite overstuffed, the novel's engrossing plot, convincing tradecraft, and vivid depiction of a ruthless totalitarian regime losing its stranglehold all place Porter (A Spy's Life, 2001) in company with Gerald Seymour, Robert Littell, and other top-notch writers who are proving that the golden age of spy fiction isn't over yet. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Two memorable lines in the story.
R. Kerr Smith
When the tangles unfurl into an understandable reality at the finale, one applauds the author for a novel well done.
Like Furst, Porter has a protagonist who is duty bound to personal loyalty and love than moral outrage.
Robert J. Bole

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Middle-aged Dr. Rudi Rosenharte is about to see his former life as a Stasi foreign agent turn his present life as a renowned art historian upside down. The scene is set in East Germany in September 1989. Rosenharte's passion at this stage is to set aside the decadent alcoholic lifestyle he's lived for many years in order to free his twin brother, Konrad, from a GDR prison. Konrad has been mistreated by the Stasi and is in need of dental, physical and mental treatment for his declining health. Rosenharte's energy is to cooperate with the Stasi to ensure that Konrad lives and is reunited with his wife Else and two young boys.

Rosenharte has become an authority in the art world and travels frequently between cities to lecture. During trips to Trieste, he's become acquainted with a person of interest to the Stasi officials concerned with treason to the German Democratic Republic. Stasi officials use information in ruthless fashion in order to intimidate citizens to inform upon one another. Rudi's former life as a secret agent comes to bear when he comes face to face with a woman he believes to have died, a former love who possessed important information against enemies of East Germany.

Believing that his cooperation with the Stasi will free his brother, Rosenharte sets in motion a series of actions that conflict with his chief goal, that of freeing Konrad. He possesses the means to gain vital information not only for the Stasi but for American, British and Russian agents as well. The game plays out with his former lover, Annalise Schering, holding the key to intelligence the Stasi must have. Rosenharte has to abandon his former lover (or a reasonable facsimile of her) or become a turncoat agent and cooperate with foreign agencies.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Excellent spy potboiler set in the waning days of European communism. Author Henry Porter interweaves the East German secret police (STASI), British intelligence, the CIA and the KGB into this story of a world-weary East German academic who is blackmailed into serving the GDR in a dubious espionage plot. That first caper, lasting no more than the first several pages of this lengthy book, opens the door to what is the vast rat's nest of the main story line here. The best part of this novel, in my opinion, is its detailed description of the gradual public uprising against the GDR regime as the Soviet Block begins to visibly disintegrate. The author conveys a highly credible understanding of how the citizens of East Germany finally reached the end of their patience with the desperate living that was inflicted on them by their government through the STASI.

As good as this book is, it could have used some adept editing in places to tighten it up some. For example, there are a number of oft-repeated lines coming from the antagonist about his imprisoned brother that become tiresome by the middle of the book.

Despite a few flaws, this is an excellent read that reaches its best and most credible moments at the end of the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pushed 60 on March 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the story even though it got a little long-winded. As much as liking the story was reading the descriptions of Berlin and Leipzig, especially the area around the Berlin Wall. Having traveled to both those places in 2005 and had a young tour guide describe the Monday prayer services in St. Thomas Church, made the text seem alive. The seemingly endless droning on about the conditions of the prison did little to enhance the richness of the descriptions of the cities and the events. Read it if you've visited this part of Germany or are looking for something about the final minutes of the reign of terror by the Stasi.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua on August 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Brandenburg" is Henry Porter's fourth novel and won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller in 2005. The book is set in East Germany's last few months, leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The book's hero is Rudi Rosenharte, an academic and former (unwilling) Stasi operative. He has (as the book opens) been brought out of retirement by the Stasi - again, against his wishes - for an operation. However, as his brother and his brother's family have been imprisoned pending his co-operation, he doesn't really have much of a choice. Konrad, Rudi's twin brother, is a film-maker and a known dissident; he has been in prison before, and Rudi fears too long a stretch might kill him. The brothers haven't had the easiest of lives. They were born in 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II to high-ranking Nazis. While this would be something of a stigma in most countries, the burden seems to be that much greater in communist East Germany. Their father saw action in Russia and in defence of Berlin. When their parents died towards the end of the war, the brothers were adopted and raised by their housekeeper. However, while neither brother is particularly enamoured with communism, they certainly haven't adopted their parents' beliefs.

Although most of the action takes place in East Germany, the book opens in Trieste - where Rudi has been sent to meet Annalise Schering. The only problem is that Annalise is dead, having committed suicide in Brussels some fifteen years previously. Rudi was not only her contact at this time - she was supplying the Stasi with classified information - but he was also her lover. However, after her suicide, he was placed in a rather difficult situation and didn't inform his superiors of her death.
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