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Berlin Airlift

In summer 1948, the Russians occupied all of Eastern Europe. Behind Russian lines, the Allied-controlled part of the great city of Berlin stood as the lone Western outpost in a sea of Communist occupation. Then the Soviets closed all Allied traffic through their zone, sealing off the food and supply routes on which the city relied. A vast air armada streamed from Western airfields to supply the hard-pressed Berliners with food and necessities. For over a year the Americans led a giganticand successfuleffort to keep an entire city alive in the face of Soviet hostility. This is a story of individual heroism and high brinkmanship politics, of daily life under appalling circumstances and great achievements against all odds.
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The Berlin airlift, the climax of the first major Cold War crisis, began in 1948 when the Soviets, attempting to force the Allies out of Berlin, imposed a blockade on communications between the American, British and French occupation zones and the conquered city. The Americans and British countered by flying in sufficient food, coal, medicine and raw material to enable the Berliners to survive the 11-month siege. Aside from the details of the operation itself (``a saga of inadequate equipment and sheer slapdashery''), the British authors provide a clear explanation of how the Four Powers came to occupy the city and why it was vital to each of them, describing the initial collective shock experienced by the Western allies when, soon after the 1945 fall of Berlin, the they received their first experience of Soviet intimidation. The book is also a richly detailed tribute to the American and British aircrews and mechanics who kept the ``air bridge'' in operation against heavy odds, and to the fortitude of the Berliners, who remained cheerfully defiant of the Soviets throughout the ordeal. Photos. BOMC alternate. (Feb.)

This solid study details the drama of the Berlin blockade and airlift, a major Cold War crisis. The Tusas reexamine the breakdown in diplomacy caused by the inability of Washington and Moscow to agree on Germany's future in 1948. The book is also a new look at the way the West kept Berlin's 2 million residents supplied. Heroes include pilots, leaders like General Lucius D. Clay, and the Berliners, who kept alive a hope of freedom on 1500 calories a day. Berlin Airlift shows how the West held the line without war. Yet, a long-term solution to the issue of divided Germany still eludes us, as it did then. This important work belongs in any collection with holdings in contemporary history and politics.-- Ray Walser, U.S. Military Acad., West Point, N.Y.

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