No Man’s Land

Written by Michael Califra

It was a beautiful dream, as compelling and just as any in history – yet unattainable. Realizing it meant overcoming entrenched geopolitical divisions that had split a city and the world for nearly half a century. Then it happened, overnight and without warning. And nothing would ever be what it was before.

1989: Richard, an expatriate American, is working a profitable yet “pointless” job selling software for a small U.S. firm in West Berlin. Katarina Weber is a married mother whose hedonistic escapades help distract him from the emptiness of his existence. When Richard ventures beyond the No Man’s Land into East Berlin to fulfill a personal obligation, he meets Traudi Franzke, a young nurse addicted to the communist ideals inherited at an early age from her father. The ensuing relationship, separated from reality by the notorious Berlin Wall, exposes beliefs long since betrayed but clung to, nevertheless. Throughout that momentous year, Richard straddles the two distinct worlds of East and West Berlin, moving between cynicism and hope, until events send them careening toward a collision, completing a journey from an age of ideologies to the “end of history.”

A ribald romp through a pivotal time and place; an intimate portrait of a revolution; a searing indictment of the human condition, “No Man’s Land” reveals the farce and tragedy of Germany’s division and reunification through a lens not found in any history book. In brisk, vivid prose, Califra masterfully captures “Wendezeit” Berlin; the arrogant excesses and self-indulgence of the democratic West “flaunting” its wealth, as well as the dysfunction, frustration and repression in the totalitarian East as they existed, side by side, in one city on the cusp of dramatic change.

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