The File : A Personal History, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


In 1978 Timothy Garton Ash went to live in Berlin to see what that divided city could teach him about tyranny and freedom.

Fifteen years later, by then internationally famous for his reportage of the downfall of communism in Central Europe, he returned to look at his Stasi file which bore the code-name 'Romeo'.

Compiled by the East German secret police, with the assistance of both professional spies and ordinary people turned informer, it contained a meticulous record of his earlier life in Berlin.

In this memoir, he describes rediscovering his younger self through the eyes of the Stasi, and then confronting those who had informed against him.

Moving from document to remembrance, from the offices of Britain's own security service to the living rooms of retired Stasi officers, The File is a personal narrative as gripping, as disquieting, and as morally provocative as any fiction by George Orwell or Graham Greene. And it is all true.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9781848870888



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I never expected to enjoy this so much. It's a great read - try not to read it in one sitting! The small, petty, and ultimately horrific, way that small inconsequential details could be sown together by the paranoid Stasi could, and did, ruin lives. Everyone seems to have been spied on, and extensive records were kept. Uniquely Germany has allowed people to view their secret police files (unlike Poland, Russia, etc etc).

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