A good piece of contemporary history by a German-born American historian. The book gives a quick survey of the rapidly changing scene in Germany, from the days of East Germans rushing to West Germany through suddenly opened holes in what had been the sealed frontiers of the Warsaw Pact states to the actual, unexpected unification in 1990. The focus is on German developments, above all on those in the German Democratic Republic, in which a revolution broke the communist rule. The leaders of the East German dissident movement at first hoped for a thorough democratic reform within some form of independence, but they were overwhelmed by their own people, who longed for a western-type economy and prosperity. A useful guide to a tangled, improvised history, with adequate attention to the major voices in both Germanies. The immediate past is an element in this "superyear of elections," and hence this somewhat conventional work provides good background reading for a country in search, once again, of its own self and its role in the world.