The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell

The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell

Published October 18, 2016 by Crown Publishing

Genres Non Fiction, History, War

Pages 320

AmazonAmazon Canada / Book Depository


The Tunnels explores two different harrowing attempts to rescue East Germans by tunneling underneath the Berlin Wall, the U.S. television networks who financed and filmed them and the Kennedy administration’s unprecedented attempt to suppress both films. During the summer of 1962, 1 year after East German Communists built the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans came up with a plan. They would risk prison, Stasi torture and even death to help liberate friends, lovers and even strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Among the tunnelers and escape helpers were a cyclist, an American student from Stanford and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel.

Then two television networks, NBC and CBS, heard about the secret projects and raced to the first to air a spectacular “inside the tunnel” special. The networks funded two separate tunnels in return for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, way of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to stop both documentaries.

This book was very interesting and covered a topic that I knew very little information about. If you follow my blog or other social media accounts, you know that I love history. My love my history usually focuses around World War II, but I am trying to expand my horizons to other historical eras, which is why this book caught my attention. The author, Greg Mitchell’s writing in this book changes, sometimes telling a story hour by hour and other times telling a story week by week, along with describing many different interesting individuals throughout the book. The book does provide a great deal of information but is written in a way that I found interesting and not overwhelming, as I sometimes find non-fiction books to be.

If you enjoy history, I recommend this book, as it talks about a topic that I don’t think most people are familiar with. I was aware that people tried to dig tunnels beneath the Berlin Wall, however I had no idea that their were television stations and foreign politics involved in the situation. It  was interesting to read about how far the reach of the Stasi secret police went and how the White House at the time was quite eager to censor or suppress the historic coverage that two major television networks were trying to cover. Happy reading!


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