In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards, the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany.
In a country where the headquarters of the secret police could become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories. She meets Miriam, who, as a 16-year-old, might have started World War III; she visits the man who painted the line that became the Berlin Wall; and she gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist."
Each enthralling story depicts what it's like to live in Berlin as the city knits itself back together - or fails to. This is a history full of emotion, attitude, and complexity.
©2003 Anna Funder; (P)2009 Audible
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Critic reviews

"A brilliant and necessary book about oppression and history...Here is someone who knows how to tell the truth." (Evening Standard - Books of the Year)

"A journey into the bizarre, scary, secret history of the former East Germany that is both relevant and riveting." (Sunday Times Travel Books of the Year)

"All this and much else comes wonderfully to life in Funder's racy account. The real heroes of the book and of the resistance are Miriam and her murdered husband Charlie. Miriam, a reluctant citizen of the GDR, whose story runs as a central strand throughout this gripping book, has reason to be bitter. East Germany cannot die for her while its bogeymen are still living in the same flats and drinking in the same pubs."(The Guardian)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Madeleine on 12-02-11

Great project, well written but underdone

I'm glad to hear that Ms. Funder is now writing fiction, because I think she's a good writer but not a great researcher. There has been a trend in the last decade to embrace the inevitable subjectivity of any research by confronting and including researcher's subjective experiences into the account of the investigation. Ms. Funder does this to such an extent that she becomes a central character in the narrative and her reactions, which she writes about very eloquently, tend to overshadow the product of her research. So the book becomes, not a documentation of the experiences of people who were either in the Stasi or victims of it, but of her reaction to meeting them.

I felt this book was okay, but simply did not have enough meat in it.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Stephen W on 16-06-14

A little disappointing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Frankly there wasn't much in this book that I didn't know already. In fact I have heard a great deal more in German magazines.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

You cannot change the story, but as another reviewer already elquently stated, there needs to be more meat on this particular bone.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

This really is something that I fail to understand. If I was the author or publisher or indeed the narrator, I would take the trouble of finding out how to pronounce German words. One of the key characters is Uwe. Every time the narrator got it wrong it irritated the hell out of me.

Did Stasiland inspire you to do anything?

No, the whole Stasi story is peculiar to the Germans but the book did not tell me anything new

Any additional comments?

No, I really wanted to tlike this book and it disappointed me somewhat.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jane on 27-01-10

Important book

Anna Funder visits what was East Germany, armed with fluent German and knowledge of international law. She listens to the stories of those who endured immense pain at the hand of the Stasi, the regime which replaced Hitler as dictators of this part of Germany. She also listened with undisguised amazement and horror, to the world view and self justifications of some of the Stasi themselves. In Stasiland she portrays a society imprisoned by the notorious Wall as well as webs of betrayal, lies, mental and emotional torture.

This is neither sensationalist or a horror story. It is an intelligent, measured exploration of the extremes of human nature, from bravery and the capacity for endurance, to the self delusion and cruelty of dictators. It reveals the insidious ways that a people can be controlled through their minds -- in effect, life was simple if everyone capitulated without question to the arbitrary, contradictory, the blatantly ridiculous. In return, citizens were given apparent certainties in housing, employment and health, certainties which some now mourn.

This is a shared personal journey and the narrator, Denica Fairman, offers a reading that works as an outstanding partnership with Funder.
Stasiland not only delves into recent history, but places before the reader the realities of human nature that contribute to human society -- from small communities to whole nations.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Wallen on 20-04-11

Small people crushed by the events of time

This book is a valauble addition to the Audible line of books. It depicts how ordinary people - none of them really political activists - acted against the oppression of Communist East Germany. At times it is more suspensful than many suspense novels, even without having had that intention. The portraits are great and you really get to know these people - or at least you wish that you had known them.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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