Tear Down This Wall


By Romesh Ratnesar
Read by Wes Bleed
ISBN: 978-1-59859-656-4
Unabridged - 7 hours - 6 CD
Released: November 04, 2009
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Available in print from Simon & Schuster
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In Tear Down This Wall, Romesh Ratnesar recreates Ronald Reagan’s historic June 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate and his famous challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev. “Tear down this wall” stands with FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear” and JFK’s “Ask not what your country…” as among the most famous words uttered by modern presidents. This account of how Reagan arrived at this moment, and what followed from it, is based on interviews with numerous former Reagan Administration officials, journalists, historians, and eye-witnesses to the speech. Drawing on primary source material never before seen, including recently declassified State Department documents and East German records of the President’s trip, Ratnesar places Reagan’s speech in historical context. Some members of the Reagan Administration argued that a challenge to Gorbachev would embarrass him and strengthen hardliners in the Kremlin. But Ratnesar shows that Reagan’s call to action was built on decades of U.S. diplomacy and that it in fact reflected a growing view among U.S. policymakers that the time had come to pressure the Soviets to ease their grip on Eastern Europe and open up Berlin. The speech was a turning point in the relationship Reagan was forging with Gorbachev. Calling on Gorbachev to tear down the Wall, in Reagan’s mind, might spur him to do it. “If he took that thing down, he’d win the Nobel Prize,” he told an aide. The confidence Reagan and Gorbachev had in each other allowed them finally to overcome the suspicions that had held their predecessors back, and the Berlin speech marked, if not the end of the Cold War, then the beginning of the end.

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