The Year that Changed the World

The Year that Changed the World Cover

The Year that Changed the World

The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall

By Michael Meyer

Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416558453, 272pp.

Publication Date: September 8, 2009


A riveting, eyewitness account of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War from the Newsweek Bureau Chief in that region at the time.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, many still believe it was the words of President Ronald Regan, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!,” that brought the Cold War to an end. Michael Meyer disagrees, and in this extraordinarily compelling account, explains why.

Drawing together breathtakingly vivid, on-the-ground accounts of the rise of Solidarity in Poland, the stealth opening of the Hungarian border, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and the collapse of the infamous wall in Berlin, Meyer shows how American intransigence contributed little to achieving such world-shaking change. In his reporting from the frontlines of the revolution in Eastern Europe between 1988 and 1992, he interviewed a wide range of local leaders, including VÁclav Havel and Lech Walesa. Meyer’s descriptions of the way their brave stands were decisive in bringing democracy to Eastern Europe provide a crucial refutation of a misunderstanding of history that has been deliberately employed to help push the United States into the intractable conflicts it faces today.

Saturday, Sep 19, 2009

Michael Meyer was Eastern European bureau chief for Newsweek when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. He talks with Guy Raz about his new book, which traces the collapse of the Soviet bloc. More at

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