Thursday, April 3, 2008

Remembering the Wall

Remember the day the Berlin Wall came down? I do. I remember watching it on TV, my whole family camped out together, very excited and happy. I remember seeing Germans shouting, drinking, climbing the wall, pulling it down piece by piece. I remember soon after the Beethoven's Ninth Symphony performance with Leonard Bernstein conducting.

John Le Carré's absolutely essential spy novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold took me back to the vaguely scary feeling that the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall gave off when I was a child. It's been on that list for a long time now of things I need to read. It did not disappoint -- more twists and turns and devious plans than even its top-notch protagonist can keep track of as he poses as a drunken, broken-down agent willing to defect. I'm sure that when it came out it was hailed not only as a great read but incisive political commentary. Now, looking back, that commentary is a frightening historical document of its own about the Cold War and the intelligence war. Not that those haven't continued, but at least as far as that part of the world is continued, a lot of the symbology has faded away.

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