Across 3,000 miles and over eight decades, this epic new people's history of the Cold War makes eye-opening sense of a defining 20th-century conflict—and how it continues to shape our world today.
Initially a victory line where Allies met at the end of World War Two, the Iron Curtain quickly became the front of a new kind of war. It divided Europe from north to south for a staggering forty-five years. Crossing it in either direction was always a political act; in many cases, it was a crime to even talk about doing so. New generations have grown up since these borders came down, freed from the restrictions of the Cold War era. But what has the Iron Curtain left in its wake?
Timothy Phillips travels its full 3,000-mile route—from inside the Arctic Circle to where Armenia meets Azerbaijan and Turkey—to craft this epic new people's history of a defining 2oth-century conflict. Here, in the borderlands where a powerful clash of civilizations took form in concrete and barbed wire, he uncovers the remarkable stories of everyday people forever imprinted by life in the Curtain's long shadow.
Some look back on the era with nostalgia, even affection, while others despise it, unable to forgive the decades of hardship their families and nations endured. A director recalls the astonishing night his movie premiered in East Germany—November 9, 1989, the very night the Berlin Wall fell. And a railroad worker recounts the 1951 hijacking of a passenger train from Czechoslovakia that breached the Curtain, granting those aboard immediate asylum in the West. These narratives, by turns harrowing and heartening, paint a vivid portrait of the new Europe that emerged from the ruins. Phillips reveals the Iron Curtain's profound impact on our world today—even as he punctures the fault lines we draw.