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Sat 24 Sept / 10.00-11.00 / £8-10  

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Giles Milton

Berlin was in ruins when Soviet forces fought their way towards the Reichstag in the spring of 1945. Join Giles Milton for a talk on his latest book Checkmate in Berlin which recounts the first battle of the Cold War as it has never been told before. Rival systems, rival ideologies and rival personalities ensured that the German capital became the setting for an explosive battle between the Allies and Soviets. An exhilarating tale of intense rivalry and raw power, Checkmate in Berlin is, above all, a story of flawed individuals playing for the highest stakes.

Berlin's fate had been sealed four months earlier at the Yalta Conference. The city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be carved up between the victorious powers - British, American, French and Soviet. On paper, it seemed a pragmatic solution; in reality, it fired the starting gun for the Cold War.

As soon as the four powers were no longer united by the common purpose of defeating Germany, they reverted to their pre-war hostility and suspicion. Rival systems, rival ideologies and rival personalities ensured that Berlin became an explosive battleground. The ruins of this once-great city were soon awash with spies, gangsters and black-marketeers, all of whom sought to profit from the disarray.

For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals - British, American and Soviet - fought an intensely personal battle over the future of Germany, Europe and the entire free world.

GILES MILTON is the internationally best-selling author of twelve works of narrative history, including Nathaniel’s Nutmeg and Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have been serialised on both the BBC and in British newspapers.

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