Cold War

Poland, 1979: We Want God! We Want God!

        In 1979, schoolteachers in Poland were told to inform their students that the man about to visit their country “is our enemy.” Teachers were urged to explain to their classes that this man’s sense...

The World’s Largest Jigsaw Puzzle

BBC Radio 4 ran a compelling show last Friday about The Stasi Jigsaw Puzzle--the shredded documents that form the core of my novel, The Puzzle People. As the Berlin Wall was coming down so...

Why is the Berlin Wall in My Living Room?

Okay, so the Berlin Wall in my living room doesn't quite match the real Wall's dimensions. But it comes close. The last generation of the Wall before it came down on November 9, 1989, stood...

The Greatest Escape

I trudged along a canal in Berlin back in 2011, hoping to see the inside of one of the few remaining watchtowers in the city—a guard tower where East Berlin soldiers kept an eagle...

YouTube Witnesses the Fall of the Wall

In my novel, The Puzzle People, I place one of my main characters, Stefan Hansel, at a pivotal point in the history of the Cold War. I place Stefan at the Bornholmer Strasse border...

Thousands Protest Removal of Wall

  In 1989, tens of thousands of protesters tore down the Berlin Wall. But as The New York Times points out, the irony is that in 2013 people are protesting because they want the Wall to stay...

Swords and Plowshares in the Heart of Berlin

When I was writing my novel The Puzzle People, I came across a photo of the Church of Reconciliation as it was being blown up in 1985 (shown on the left). But what caught...

Canton Comes Through Again

One of the highlights of 2011 was the One Book, One Community program in Canton, Ohio, which adopted The Disappearing Man as its featured book. The Canton Repository newspaper continues its support with a...

The Men Who Wouldn’t Stop Clapping

The audience exploded into applause. Every person in the room jumped up and began to wildly clap, as if racing each other to see who could get to their feet the fastest. The applause...

Finding New Life in the Death Strip

An elderly man shoves two packages out of a fourth floor window, and then he crawls out and sits on the ledge, staring down at the ground below. Then slowly, carefully, he turns himself...