In the summer of 1962, one year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Then, as the world's press heard about the secret projects, two television networks raced to be the first to document them from the inside, funding two separate tunnels for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries. As Greg Mitchell's riveting narrative unfolds, we meet extraordinary characters: the legendary cyclist who became East Berlin's most wanted man; the tunneller who had already served four years in the East German gulag; the Stasi informer who betrays the 'CBS tunnel'; the young East Berliner who escapes with her baby, then marries one of the tunnellers; and an engineer who would later help build the tunnel under the English Channel. Capturing the hopes and fears of everyday Berliners, the chilling reach of the Stasi secret police, and the political tensions of the Cold War, The Tunnels is breaking history, a propulsive read whose themes still reverberate today.
"The Tunnels is one of the great untold stories of the Cold War. Brilliantly researched and told with great flair, Greg Mitchell's non-fiction narrative reads like the best spy thriller, something le Carre might have imagined. Easily the best book I've read all year." Alex Kershaw "Greg Mitchell's The Tunnels uncovers an unexplored underworld of Cold War intrigue. As nuclear tensions grip Berlin, a whole realm of heroes and villains, of plot and counterplot, unfolds beneath the surface of the city. True historical drama." Ron Rosenbaum "When you have read the last page of Greg Mitchell's The Tunnels you will close the book. But not until then." Alan Furst "Greg Mitchell is the best kind of historian, a true storyteller. The Tunnels is a gripping tale about heroic individuals defying an authoritarian state at a critical moment in the Cold War. A brilliantly told thriller-but all true." Kai Bird "A compelling look at a wrenching chapter of the Cold War that chronicles the desperate flights for freedom beneath the streets of post-war Berlin and the costs that politics extracted in lives" Barry Meier
GREG MITCHELL is the author of nearly a dozen books, including The Campaign of the Century, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize. He is the former editor of Editor Publisher.