Remembering the Berlin Wall with the 10 Best Cold War Novels

The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, making this year the 25th anniversary of the breakdown of the iconic fence that separated Western Germany from its eastern part. As part of the celebration, here are 10 essential Cold War classic books.

From Russia, With Love: written in 1957 by Ian Fleming

This book is the fifth James Bond novel and the best among them. In it, 007 tried escaping from assassinated by the Soviet counter intelligence agency, SMERSH. It’s a blunt novel that portrays the West as the good guys and the East as the bad guys and gave it the needed room to personify Russian as ruthless, with the combination of the lesbian sadist, Rosa Klebband her deadly shoes.

The Manchurian Candidate: written in 1959 by Richard Condon

This satirical thriller tells of how the mother of a US war hero joined forces with the Russian KGB to indoctrinate his son into becoming an unconscious killer.

The Calculus Affair: written in 1956 by Hergé

While this book could be classified more as a cartoon instead of a novel, this Tintin comic Cold Warstory was excellently plotted. It tells the story of how Professor Calculus unconsciously creates a weapon of mass destruction that resulted to his kidnapping. And Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy made their journey to the small Soviet satellite state of Borduria to liberate him.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold: Written in 1963 by John le Carré

This book was set in East Germany around the time the Berlin Wall was built and tells the story of Western espionage and its use of methods that are ethically contradicting to Western democracy and principles. This heart-breaking thriller was selected by Time magazine as one of its All-Time 100 Novels. In addition, it was named the best spy novel of all-time by Publishers Weekly in 2006 and turned out to be an international best-seller after receiving critical acclaim at the time it was published.

Billion-Dollar Brain: written in 1966 by Len Deighton

This Cold Warnovel tells the story of how an unidentified secret agent took it upon himself to prevent an all-out nuclear war that could erupt because of a Texan billionaire’s interference in the Eastern bloc. In the novel’s film adaptation, the secret officer is known as Harry Palmer and the role was played by Michael Caine.

The Book of Daniel: written in 1972 by EL Doctorow

This book tells a fictional version of the lives of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg who were American communists. In 1953, the couple were executed for providing the Soviets information about the atomic bomb. The haunting story tells of how the US gives up on its own people all because it believes it’s to help reduce treason.

The Wall Jumper: written in 1984 by Peter Schneider

This novel takes a look at the lives of some of the Germans living on each side of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s. Questioning where the state ends and where the self-begin, the novel revels those who did their best to overcome the mental and physical obstacles enforced on them by the political condition.

The Innocent: written in 1990 by Ian McEwan

In 1950s Berlin, an inexperienced English engineer is deprived of his political and sexual purity. Set at the beginning of the Cold War, the novel goes into romantic entanglements, the complexity of geopolitical relations, murder, and betrayal, The Telegraph reports.

Underworld: written in 1997 by Don DeLillo

This Cold War best-seller is said to be one of DeLillo’s most popular novels. Spanning over a period of four decades (1950s–1990s), this book’s characters react to numerous historical happenings, which includes the Cuban Missile Crisis and nuclear spread. It symbolizes and parodies memories of the certainties of the era of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Young Philby: written in 2012 by Robert Littell

This novel ingeniously and teasingly tells the story of Kim Philby’s early life and how the English man traveled with the Russian freighter Domatova as the only traveller on board while fleeing the Lebanese capital with just the clothes on his back on one January midnight in the early 1960s.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE