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A compulsive listen about the battle for Berlin and control of the Western world in the aftermath of the Second World War from ‘the master of narrative history’.

Berlin was in ruins when Soviet forces fought their way towards the Reichstag in the spring of 1945. Streets were choked with rubble, power supplies severed and the population close to starvation. The arrival of the Soviet army heralded yet greater terrors: the city’s civilians were to suffer rape, looting and horrific violence. Worse still, they faced a future with neither certainty nor hope.

Berlin’s fate had been sealed four months earlier at the Yalta Conference. The city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be carved up between the victorious powers – British, American, French and Soviet. On paper, it seemed a pragmatic solution; in reality, it fired the starting gun for the Cold War.

As soon as the four powers were no longer united by the common purpose of defeating Germany, they reverted to their pre-war hostility and suspicion. Rival systems, rival ideologies and rival personalities ensured that Berlin became an explosive battleground. The ruins of this once-great city were soon awash with spies, gangsters and black-marketeers, all of whom sought to profit from the disarray.

For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals – British, American and Soviet – fought an intensely personal battle over the future of Germany, Europe and the entire free world.

CHECKMATE IN BERLIN tells this exhilarating, high-stakes tale of grit, skullduggery, and raw power. From the high politics of Yalta to the desperate scramble to break the Soviet stranglehold of Berlin with the greatest aerial operation in history, this is the epic story of the first battle of the Cold War and how it shaped the modern world.

(P)2021 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Reviews

PRAISE FOR GILES MILTON:
The master of narrative history
Sunday Times
A compulsive storyteller
Daily Express
A first-rate storyteller
Wall Street Journal
A meticulous researcher and masterful storyteller
USA Today
PRAISE FOR CHECKMATE IN BERLIN:
Brilliantly recapturing the febrile atmosphere of Berlin in the first four years after the Second World War, Giles Milton reminds us what an excellent story-teller he is, and how often and easily the Cold War could have grown red hot. From the major decision-makers in the four Allied Governments who ran the former Nazi capital, right the way down to the spooks, soldiers, crooks and civilians at street level, he has an unerring sense for the revealing incident and hitherto-untold story.
Andrew Roberts, author of 'Churchill: Walking with Destiny'
From the Yalta Conference to the birth of NATO, Checkmate in Berlin balances the sweep of history against a group of truly extraordinary personalities. Brilliantly written and completely absorbing, this is Milton's masterpiece.
Anthony Horowitz
Giles Milton never disappoints. The man who helped to turn narrative history into one of the most popular genres in modern publishing, this latest is up there with his best. Milton paints characters so vividly, and his writing has the momentum of a novel, only better, because it's all true.
Dan Snow
A wonderfully clear and digestible account. . . The devastation wrought on Berlin by the Russians is vividly described by the British historian Giles Milton in a series of sharp vignettes. . . as gripping as any thriller.
Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
The sharp-eyed narrative historian Giles Milton charts the transition from the Yalta conference in February 1945 to the breaking of the Soviet blockade of West Berlin in May 1949... The Soviet blockade of Berlin between 1948 and 1949 is expertly told by Milton...This is a book full of heroes.
The Times
Giles Milton is a skillful storyteller. His latest book, vivid and pacy, chronicles the first four years of the Berlin occupation through the first-hand accounts of the individuals involved.
The Spectator
'A sparkling, Le Carré-esque history ... Anyone who has read Milton's previous works of narrative history will know how good he is with set pieces, and at making familiar figures grab the attention afresh...But although Milton has great fun with the big players, the triumph of the book is its depiction of the men who ran things on the ground in Berlin, who in Milton's hands turn out to be figures hardly less compelling than Churchill and Stalin... Thoroughly entertaining.' ***** Daily Telegraph