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In Berlin

Maxim Leo, Rory MacLean & Colin Thubron


Filed under: Non-fiction

Maxim Leo and Rory MacLean revisit the reality and myth of the Cold War capital, and explore its remarkable capacity for reinvention.

Recorded on 7 November 2014.

The 9 November 2014 marks a quarter of a century since East and West Germans tore down the wall that had separated them since 1961. The anniversary has inspired two outstanding books. Maxim Leo grew up in East Berlin and was 19 when the Wall came down. In Red Love, described in the Sunday Telegraph as ‘beautiful and supremely touching’, he shows how his parents’ marriage was derailed by ideological difference, and how the GDP continues to haunt his family like a ‘ghost that can’t find peace’. Rory MacLean has known three Berlins: West Berlin, where he made movies with David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich, East Berlin, where he researched his bestseller Stalin’s Nose, and the unified capital. Berlin: Imagine a City is an intimate biography of the city from medieval times to the present, told through the lives of 23 of its former residents. Jan Morris called it ‘a wonderful achievement … hauntingly representing, as in a tangled dream, 600 years of history’. In an event co-hosted by the European Commission, they revisit the reality and myth of the Cold War capital, and explore its remarkable capacity for reinvention.

This event was held in partnership with the European Commission in the UK.