Tear Down This Wall: A City, a President, and the Speech that Ended the Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1416556916
ISBN-10: 1416556915
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Standing before Berlin's Brandenburg Gate in 1987, President Reagan delivered his famous challenge to Soviet Premier Gorbachev: to tear down the wall dividing East and West Berlin. Within two years, the wall crumbled, and the U.S.S.R. soon followed. Time magazine deputy managing editor Ratnesar has mined American and East German archives to produce a lively, impressively detailed history of the iconic speech. Despite impeccable conservative credentials, Reagan considered avoiding nuclear war more important than defeating communism. This only became obvious in 1985, when Gorbachev assumed the Soviet leadership. Over the course of several meetings, the two leaders developed a rapport and announced disarmament agreements that distressed Reagan's hard-line supporters. In early 1987, speechwriter Peter Robinson produced a draft containing the tear down this wall statement, followed by a tortuous four months of innumerable drafts and quarrels with high officials who considered it unnecessarily offensive. In the end, Reagan liked the phrase, so it stayed. Being the world's sole superpower has brought America little satisfaction, so readers should enjoy this slim, lucid account of a time when events turned out brilliantly. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Romesh Ratnesar has told the story with narrative verve, brilliant political and personal insight, and a combination of concision and pithiness worthy of the Great Communicator himself.”

--Strobe Talbott, author of The Great Experiment: Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation


Product Details

  • File Size: 598 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 16, 2009)
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2009
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002T0I03S
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #872,370 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written, clear-eyed and unbiased book about President Reagan's role in bringing down the Berlin Wall. The focus is on his speech-writers and the interesting machinations they went through en route to creating the speeches we find so memorable. In addition, the author interviewed key people, such as Gorbychav and gleaned many fascinating insights and anecdotes from them.

My only complaint is what has to be one of the strangest last chapters I've ever read. After not mentioning Obama for the entire book, the last chapter suddenly discusses Obama vs. Reagan, how they are alike, and different, how much Obama respected Reagan (really? seems our new president is trying to tear down everything Reagan held dear in respect to government's role in our lives as well as how to conduct foreign policy). The author concludes by giving Obama a pep-talk on what he must do to have as much impact on America and the world as Reagan did... of course, assuring us that President Obama has the goods and will deliver. Say what?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After reading dozens of books of presidential history surrounding Reagan, I found it exciting to read several tidbits of history that I had not read in some way previously. From that perspective, the book was a worthwhile read. However, as others have commented about the strange twist at the end comparing Reagan and Obama in bizarre fashion, you really dont have to wait until the end to gather Ratnesar's distaste for Reagan and his cabinet and advisers. In a way, it was good to see that very early on in the book, hence I could compartmentalize his opinions of people (which he states in a very unjournalistic manner, in my opinion) and his presentation of objective facts.

I'd buy the book again. Its a good account of European history leading the reader through the 60's and up to The Speech. Contrary to Reagan being 'lucky' to be at that spot in history, as the writer wistfully proposes (remember other left-leaning writers sickly pining that Bush 43 was 'lucky' to have been in office during 9/11? It seems to be a trend to wish for these 'lucky moments' for their guys) the writer shows just the opposite; that it was Reagan's determination to bring about the end of the Cold War from his 30 years of campainging against the failures of communism.
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Format: Hardcover
As a lifelong Reagan Conservative, I was often dismayed in the `80s at the leftist partisan rancor and ideologically-based myopia of The Media when assessing President Reagan's Cold War (CW) policies - not because I supported them but because of the few credible alternative solutions offered to break the CW stalemate. For all the obstinate - even haughty - disregard for RR's policies, it was obvious that The Left was willing to perpetuate the CW with the same, tired Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)/Detente policies. Yet, as RR correctly envisioned, the "Status Quo" (RR's definition: "That's Latin for the fix we're in") wasn't working, and the insanity of doing things the same way and expecting different results was destructive. Today, many revisionist historians try to collectively give the 8 CW presidents for ending it (particularly those who never agreed with RR's policies to begin with and cannot admit they were wrong). Yet, despite the efforts of his 7 predecessors, the CW was at a stalemate when RR entered office, with Soviet military strength increasing while the US wallowed in economic problems and declines in military viability and international credibility. Yet, from 1981-89, Ronald Reagan changed all of that. RR ultimately became the president that actually ended the CW - not merely one who carried over the fight as his predecessors did.

"Tear Down This Wall" (TDTW) is an aspect-specific treatment of the CW, with RR's famous speech at Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987 represented as the visionary culmination point of RR's diplomatic, military, socio-economic, and clandestine/ intelligence CW efforts in oratory form. It was the basis on which he could assert from the position of strength his policies afforded that the wall must be torn down.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a look a the infamous Berlin Wall, and the 1987 speech given by US President Ronald Reagan wherein he challenged Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to tear the wall down. Starting with a quick look at the origins of the Wall, the book quickly moves on to the political rise of Mr. Reagan, focusing on the way his White House worked. Then, the interaction between the two leaders is examined, through to the end of the Reagan presidency.

Overall, I found this to be an OK book. It's far from a paean to President Reagan, but is instead, a clear-eyed look at what was going on behind the scenes. No punches are pulled, with such lines as, "Reagan was either spinning or deluding himself" (Page 55.) being included. My biggest problem with the book is that the author took such a momentous event as the end of the Cold War, and succeeds in reducing it to a surprisingly boring listing of who did what and why and when.

I guess what I would say is that this is a detailed look at what transpired behind the scenes in the Reagan White House, but it's the kind of sadly passionless book that would probably only really appeal to a policy wonk. The only passion to be found in the book is contained in the epilogue, which is an out-of-place salute to US President Barack Obama. I suppose this is not a complete surprise as the author is a deputy managing editor of Time magazine, which became noted for having a picture of the President on something like every other one of its covers.

I had hoped to enjoy this book, but I didn't, and I do not recommend it.
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