The File: A Personal History

Front Cover
Random House, 1997 - Political Science - 262 pages
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.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - geejays - LibraryThing

Fascinating book. Thought-provoking. How would one behave if one had lived in East Germany? How easy it is to judge from outside a situation or post an event. Analysis of spy agencies in dictatorships and democracies. What makes a person a "Stauffenberg or a Speer? Victims, perpetrators. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - iamamro - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3

14 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1997)

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.

Bibliographic information