• 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 (141 ratings)

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Checkmate in Berlin

By: Giles Milton
Narrated by: Giles Milton
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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

From a master of popular history, the lively, immersive story of the race to seize Berlin in the aftermath of World War II as it’s never been told before

BERLIN’S FATE WAS SEALED AT THE 1945 YALTA CONFERENCE: the city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be carved up among the victorious powers - the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. On paper, it seemed a pragmatic solution. In reality, once the four powers were no longer united by the common purpose of defeating Germany, they wasted little time reverting to their prewar hostility toward - and suspicion of - one another. The veneer of civility between the Western allies and the Soviets was to break down in spectacular fashion in Berlin. Rival systems, rival ideologies, and rival personalities ensured that the German capital became an explosive battleground.

The warring leaders who ran Berlin’s four sectors were charismatic, mercurial men, and Giles Milton brings them all to rich and thrilling life here. We meet unforgettable individuals like America’s explosive Frank “Howlin’ Mad” Howley, a brusque sharp-tongued colonel with a relish for mischief and a loathing for all Russians. Appointed commandant of the city’s American sector, Howley fought an intensely personal battle against his wily nemesis, General Alexander Kotikov, commandant of the Soviet sector. Kotikov oozed charm as he proposed vodka toasts at his alcohol-fueled parties, but Howley correctly suspected his Soviet rival was Stalin’s agent, appointed to evict the Western allies from Berlin and ultimately from Germany as well.

Throughout, Checkmate in Berlin recounts the first battle of the Cold War as we’ve never before seen it. An exhilarating tale of intense rivalry and raw power, it is above all a story of flawed individuals who were determined to win, and Milton does a masterful job of weaving between all the key players’ motivations and thinking at every turn. A story of unprecedented human drama, it’s one that had a profound, and often underestimated, shaping force on the modern world – one that’s still felt today.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

©2021 Giles Milton (P)2021 Macmillan Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Checkmate in Berlin

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Excellent history of the early days of the Cold War

I really enjoyed this. It filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of what happened between the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War in earnest. Lots of fascinating characters. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the period.

6 people found this helpful

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Awesome book!!!

They need to make a movie. It might wake up a few woke liberal socialist

1 person found this helpful

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Powerful story, splendidly recounted

Giles Milton is a remarkable historian, able to blend original research with telling anecdotes and a highly principled, empathetic point of view. This book is a gripping page-turner as it recounts the suffering of post-war Berliners, and the efforts of not-too-noble heroes and not-beyond-redemption villains to determine the fate of the city and its inhabitants. The author is also the narrator, and he knows exactly where to put the inflection points. Overall, as text and narrative, this is a splendid achievement.

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Add dates

The dates in the book start to get confusing as you get later in the book, also this is not one for young children as it has a chapter about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Real scary.

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The best post-war book on Berlin. A little overboard on American ideal of democracy, but a great piece of history overall.

It fills in a lot of important history of Berlin. The Russians demonstrate how they will act against the West, beginning with the blockade of the western sectors of Berlin. If you want to know if the Russians will finally back out of the present war, this book fields some answers.

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Worth a listen for sure

It was a very eye opening and interesting read on the days following WWII in Berlin. Most interesting insight into the tactics of Stalin and Russia especially given today’s current events in Ukraine.

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Well told history

History, by its nature, isn't always a fascinating listen.
This book is an exception-fast moving, on target, and full of interesting events.

The post-war reconstruction of Germany and the true evil of the Soviets is accurately and interestingly depicted.

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Enlightening Book

Brilliantly written. Full of facts and interesting characters. Would make an excellent Documentary for Television.

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Best author/ narrator in the business

Giles Milton is a most talented author. Not only can he make history come to life, but he narrates like a full time narrator. He can do it all. He makes post war Berlin come to life like a live action spy novel. It’s cat and mouse non stop. Bravo!!

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superbly researched and written.

great descriptions of the tragedies and intrigues brought on in the negotiations at the end of WWll. the failures by western leaders in dealing with Stalin are striking. this is a must for any history buff interested in the development of post war Europe and Berlin in particular. Great narrator. a book for your next cross country trip.
where is Hollywood on this one? this would be an extraordinary miniseries like Band of Brothers. captivating story that lends itself to the people craving great intrigue and spectacle only coming from stories of great and powerful events.