There were plenty of other edgy moments as the superpowers jostled for position. Most have been recorded, but Iain MacGregor makes them vivid again with lengthy interviews and a fund of anecdotes. His narrative follows a tidy arc from the construction of the wall, starting in August 1961, to its fall in November 1989, yet there has never been anything neat about Berlin, neither its division nor its unification.
As his title suggests, MacGregor is fascinated by the monstrosities, the web of Berlin rules that grew up in the cold war. I loved his chapter about how US diplomat Allan Lightner’s trip to the opera with his wife Dorothy in East Berlin ended by nearly incinerating Europe... MacGregor isn’t always good on history... But the voices he has saved, and the richly researched skill of his narrative at big moments, rescue an echo of one of the many lost Berlins.