Synopses & Reviews
"An invaluable document for our time, bravely and beautifully written. A chilling portrait of treachery and compromise that will not let me go."
--John le Carré
In 1978, fresh out of Oxford, Timothy Garton Ash set out for Berlin to see what he could learn from the divided city about freedom and despotism. As he moved from west to east--from Berlin glamour to Berlin danger--the East German secret police, the so-called Stasi, was compiling a secret file on his activities, monitoring his Berlin days and nights and tracking his growing involvement with the Solidarity movement in Poland.
Fifteen years later, with the Wall torn down and Berlin now unified, Garton Ash visited Stasi headquarters to find his file. The thick dossier he was given forms the basis for this real-life thriller in which he traces and confronts the German friends and acquaintances who informed on him, and the officers who hired them. Behind Stasi reports of suspicious meetings we discover the love affairs, friendships, and formative intellectual encounters that actually occurred. And behind a baffling web of lies, half-truths, and forgotten stories we find a forty-year-old man spying on his younger self.
"Amid the ghost of secret Germany," he writes, "I was searching for the answer to a personal question: What is it that makes one person a resistance fighter and another the faithful servant of a dictatorship--this man a Stauffenberg, that a Speer?" And he forces us to ask: Which would I be?
The File reads like a brilliant work of fiction by Graham Greene or George Orwell--but every word is true.
"The File is by far the wisest and most penetrating study of a communist informer society ever written by an outsider. "
--Neal Ascherson, The Independent
About the Author
Timothy Garton Ash is a Fellow of St. Antony's College, Oxford. Celebrated for his essays in The New York Review of Books, he is the author of The Polish Revolution, which won the Somerset Maugham Award; The Uses of Adversity, which won the Prix Européen de l'Essai; In Europe's Name; and The Magic Lantern, his eyewitness account of the Central European revolutions of 1989, which has been translated into fourteen languages. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two sons.