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Anna Funder visits what was East Germany, armed with fluent German and knowledge of international law. She listens to the stories of those who endured immense pain at the hand of the Stasi, the regime which replaced Hitler as dictators of this part of Germany. She also listened with undisguised amazement and horror, to the world view and self justifications of some of the Stasi themselves. In Stasiland she portrays a society imprisoned by the notorious Wall as well as webs of betrayal, lies, mental and emotional torture.
This is neither sensationalist or a horror story. It is an intelligent, measured exploration of the extremes of human nature, from bravery and the capacity for endurance, to the self delusion and cruelty of dictators. It reveals the insidious ways that a people can be controlled through their minds -- in effect, life was simple if everyone capitulated without question to the arbitrary, contradictory, the blatantly ridiculous. In return, citizens were given apparent certainties in housing, employment and health, certainties which some now mourn.
This is a shared personal journey and the narrator, Denica Fairman, offers a reading that works as an outstanding partnership with Funder.
Stasiland not only delves into recent history, but places before the reader the realities of human nature that contribute to human society -- from small communities to whole nations.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This book is a valauble addition to the Audible line of books. It depicts how ordinary people - none of them really political activists - acted against the oppression of Communist East Germany. At times it is more suspensful than many suspense novels, even without having had that intention. The portraits are great and you really get to know these people - or at least you wish that you had known them.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I'm glad to hear that Ms. Funder is now writing fiction, because I think she's a good writer but not a great researcher. There has been a trend in the last decade to embrace the inevitable subjectivity of any research by confronting and including researcher's subjective experiences into the account of the investigation. Ms. Funder does this to such an extent that she becomes a central character in the narrative and her reactions, which she writes about very eloquently, tend to overshadow the product of her research. So the book becomes, not a documentation of the experiences of people who were either in the Stasi or victims of it, but of her reaction to meeting them.
I felt this book was okay, but simply did not have enough meat in it.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Frankly there wasn't much in this book that I didn't know already. In fact I have heard a great deal more in German magazines.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
You cannot change the story, but as another reviewer already elquently stated, there needs to be more meat on this particular bone.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
This really is something that I fail to understand. If I was the author or publisher or indeed the narrator, I would take the trouble of finding out how to pronounce German words. One of the key characters is Uwe. Every time the narrator got it wrong it irritated the hell out of me.
Did Stasiland inspire you to do anything?
No, the whole Stasi story is peculiar to the Germans but the book did not tell me anything new
Any additional comments?
No, I really wanted to tlike this book and it disappointed me somewhat.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I loved it. The narrator brought it alive. So many people badly affected by regime.
fascinating personal stories from behind the wall. such an interesting look at the practicalities of totalitarianism, and experiences of the people trapped within.