On 9 November 1989, the Berlin wall cracked as massive crowds of East Germans, upon hearing a news report that their government had granted rights for travel abroad, poured into West Berlin. In this fascinating study, historian Mary Sarotte suggests that the entire episode, that helped end the Cold War without violence, was a colossal accident. Focusing not on the world’s geopolitical leaders, Sarotte tells the story of dissidents shooting movies of demonstrations, of clergy opening church doors, of a hapless Politburo member charged with making the announcement, of NBC’s Tom Brokaw who happened to be in Berlin, and of the Stasi officer who made the fateful decision to open his border crossing as thousands of its fellow citizens pressed against the Wall. The peaceful revolution of November 9 was unplanned, contingent, and completely unpredictable; little things can make big events in world history. You won’t be able to put down Sarotte’s book once you start reading.