Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder

 

Read by Danika Fairman

Description: In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited and East Germany ceased to exist. In this book, Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany, including the story of Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III.

Read her two books the wrong way around. This non-fiction is superbly written, and she really does have stories that need relating to help us understand DDR because let’s face it, no matter how many time the history is read the subject remains hard to get one’s head around.

DDR was a paranoid place and awful things happened to ordinary people and Funder has pinned the subject matter smack, bang to the , erm, wall.

I mentioned that I read her books the wrong way around – ‘All that I Am’, a novel based on factual events, did not resound so well, maybe I am just a non-fiction kind of girl at heart.

Astounding read worth five checkpoint-charlies even though there are some flaws.

Surfy Googling yields some interesting piccies:

Alexanderplatz. We stayed in the Hotel up those stairs on the left, and that square was full of Christmas market. How it looks today:

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Dancing on the Edge by Stephen Poliakoff

bookshelves: summer-2014, film-only, play-dramatisation, published-2013, music, racism, cults-societies-brotherhoods, nazi-related, journalism, mystery-thriller, period-piece

Read from May 30 to 31, 2014


Description: The series follows a black jazz band’s experiences in London in the 1930s. Made up of talented musicians and managed by the compassionate yet short-tempered Wesley Holt, the band gets a gig at the Imperial Hotel, by the way of the cunning journalist, Stanley Mitchell. They prove to be a hit, and become a success at the hotel. Countless aristocrats—and the Royal Family—ask the band to play at parties. The media rush to interview and photograph the band—including the ambitious American businessman, Walter Masterson and his enthusiastic employee, Julian. The band’s success spirals, they’re being offered record deals. But tragedy strikes, setting off a chain of events that may wreck the band’s career.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Matthew Goode
Angel Coulby
John Goodman
Anthony Head
Jacqueline Bisset
Composer: Adrian Johnston

(view spoiler)

That ending – there is a sequel in the pipeline, dontcha fink? Excellent fayre.

Dancing On The Edge: Mel Smith and Matthew Goode

My Poliakoff Past:

3* Shooting the Past
TR Blinded by the Sun
4.5* Playing With Trains
5* She’s Been Away
4* The Tribe
3* A Real Summer
5* Dancing on the Edge
2* Soft Targets

The Search for the Panchen Lama by Isabel Hilton

bookshelves: spring-2014, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, tibet, lifestyles-deathstyles, nonfiction, politics, philosophy, biography, buddhism, religion, history, journalism, published-1999

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Karen Witzler
Read from May 11 to 28, 2014

 

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

Withdrawn from Huntingdon Library.

Opening: Choekyi Gyaltsen, more widely known as the tenth reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, died on a freezing night in January 1989 in his own monastery of Tashilhunpo, in Tibet.

Tashilhunpo Monastery བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལྷུན་པོ་ོ་, Shigatse, Tibet

Page 18: ‘The Potala was built by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, the first of the Gelugpa hierarchs to assume secular power. His accession as King of Tibet in the seventeenth century had brought a measure of peace to a country riven for more than a hundred years by sectarian warfare.’

Firstly a thank you to Karen for for bringing this book to my attention.

This lengthy history is very interesting, however it is written in a non-linear way, making it hard to keep the facts straight. I especially enjoy that Ms Hilton recognises this growing Western trend of Dr. Martin wearing maroon-cloaked accolytes hanging on the robes of the court in exile. Example on Page 6: ‘The hotel* is the chief exhibition room for what the Dalai Lama’s brother, Tenzin Choegyal, later called the Shangri-La Syndrome – Westerners who are seeking answers to a variety of personal questions by means of the Tibetan Cause.’

*Hotel Tibet, Dharamsala

Overall though, this is not a book I would recommend other than to those with more than a passing interest, as the lay-out of information is too haphazard. One thing I did learn, and it is an important point, the young lad I spied overhead at Yonghegong must have been Gyaincain Norbu. So for that learning point alone this book has been useful.

TRIVIA

Bon or Bön also Bonism or Benism (Chinese: 苯教, Běnjiào) is the term for the religious tradition or sect of Tibet more accurately called Yungdrung Bon today.

Zezhol Monastery of the Tibetan Bon Religion at Dengqen County of Qamdo prefecture

The Tibetan Book of Proportions

Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo

bookshelves: spring-2014, afr-congo, nonfiction, journalism, published-2013, radio-4, travel, autobiography-memoir

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 16 to 23, 2014


BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b043wvxd

BBC Description: Stringer is Anjan Sundaram’s vivid account of self-discovery and danger in the heart of Africa. In 2005, at the age of 22, the decision to become a journalist takes Sundaram to Congo where he spends a year and a half cutting his teeth as a reporter for a news agency. With the 2006 elections approaching he immerses himself in the everyday life of this lawless and war torn country. This intense period takes him deep into the shadowy parts of Kinshasa, to the dense rain forest with an Indian businessman hunting for his fortune, and culminates in the historic and violent elections of 2006.

Episode 1: First impressions of Kinshasa, and an encounter with a group of orphaned children

Episode 2: A frightening encounter compels Anjan to re-double his efforts to find work as a reporter,

Episode 3: A journey along the River Congo leads to new insights for the journalist

Episode 4: Anjan Sundaram heads east towards the conflict and conducts an extraordinary interview.

Episode 5: Anjan observes the elections and is caught up in the disturbing aftermath.

Anjan Sundaram is an award-winning journalist who has reported from Africa and the Middle East for the New York Times and the Associated Press. He received a Reuters journalism award in 2006 for his reporting on Pygmy tribes in Congo’s rain forest.

Read by Riz Ahmed who is best known for his work in film. He has starred in The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty, Four Lions, Ill Manors and The Reluctant Fundamentalist which he also read for Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime.

Abridged by Richard Hamilton
Produced by Elizabeth Allard.

THE BUZZ ABOUT THIS BOOK:

ONE OF the most talked-about incidents at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year was the dismissal by British MP Kwasi Kwarteng of Anjan Sundaram’s decision to leave behind a cushy life in academia at 22 and travel to Congo to report on the civil war as just another case of a rich kid displaying only a voyeuristic interest in Africa. While the consensus among the chattering classes was that Kwarteng had been needlessly belligerent, it is possible to see his point of view: Sundaram had said that he went to Congo because, as he writes in Stringer, “I had lived in man’s genius for so long. I wanted to know our destructive capacities.”The Rough Guide to Reporting

Bongo-Bongo in the Congo

Tbilisi Unanchor Travel Guide – Weekend Break: Crown Jewel of the Caucasus

currently-reading, georgia, e-book, essays, spring-2014, journalism, nonfiction, published-2014, travel

Read on May 13, 2014

 

This is a short essay on Tbilisi available online here

Opening: Lermontov’s house is gone now. The foundations have crumbled in upon themselves; the mock-ups of the reconstruction are now covered in graffiti. There will never be any reconstruction. The restaurant called Pur Pur, with its Victorian lampshades and Friday night chanteuse, has closed down without warning. We trade black-market rumors about the reopening. Of course, we don’t know anything. In Tbilisi, nobody knows anything.

Tara Isabella Burton‘s travel writing and essays have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, The Paris Review Daily, The Atlantic, on the BBC, and more. In 2012 she received the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. She has recently completed a novel set in Georgia.

Three Brothers by Peter Ackroyd

bookshelves: published-2013, e-book, ipad, spring-2014, period-piece, london, lit-richer, britain-england, tbr-busting-2014, under-100-ratings, families, antarctica, author-love, betrayal, books-about-books-and-book-shops, bullies, casual-violence, christian, doo-lally, filthy-lucre, journalism, library-in-norway, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-crit, prostitution, recreational-homicide, religion, roman-catholic

Read from March 11 to April 18, 2014

 

description: Rapier-sharp, witty, intriguing, and mysterious: a new novel from Peter Ackroyd set in the London of the 1960s.

Three Brothers follows the fortunes of Harry, Daniel, and Sam Hanway, a trio of brothers born on a postwar council estate in Camden Town. Marked from the start by curious coincidence, each boy is forced to make his own way in the world, a world of dodgy deals and big business, of criminal gangs and crooked landlords, of newspaper magnates, backbiters, and petty thieves.

London is the backdrop and the connecting fabric of these three lives, reinforcing Ackroyd’s grand theme that place and history create, surround and engulf us. From bustling, cut-throat Fleet Street to hallowed London publishing houses, from the wealth and corruption of Chelsea to the smoky shadows of Limehouse and Hackney, this is an exploration of the city, peering down its streets, riding on its underground, and drinking in its pubs and clubs.

Everything is possible, not only in the new freedom of the 1960s but also in London’s timeless past.

Opening: IN THE London borough of Camden, in the middle of the last century, there lived three brothers; they were three young boys, with a year’s difference of age between each of them. They were united, however, in one extraordinary way. They had been born at the same time on the same day of the same month—to be precise, midday on 8 May.


John A. Parks, Camden Town

Wormwood Scrubs in the ’50s

Three boys, so very different on the surface:

Harry ‘Heck’ Hanway, the reporter
Daniel, lit-crit bitch
Sam, personal assistant.

At an early age these lads drifted away from each other, however, by the time they are late teens, early twentiers, they are so ‘Oh my giddy aunt-ishly’ connected in both business and personal matters that it is a wonder Ackroyd could keep this devilishly sly plot going. All the balls were in the air.

Three Brothers is a parable about conectivity: I drew parallels with Brothers Karamazov, Dickens, and The New Testament, however it is because London itself is a main character that these parallels only held a superficial similarity. Ackroyd himself alludes to connections on page 192.

I did not enjoy those brief hallucinatory passages and that is reflected in a star fall.

3* Three Brothers
3* Hawksmoor
4* Shakespeare: The Biography
4* Chatterton
4* Dickens
1* The Lambs of London
3* The House of Doctor Dee
3* Poe: A Life Cut Short
3* Venice: Pure City
2* The Plato Papers
5* Tudors (The History of England, #2)
3* The Fall of Troy
4* Wilkie Collins
5* The Mystery Of Charles Dickens