In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall


In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall

Sanford Tweedie

208 pages
21 illustrations


May 2013


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

April 2020


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eBook (PDF)

May 2013


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About the Book

Growing up, what Sanford Tweedie knew about East Germany was basically . . . nothing. West Germans were our friends; East Germans, the enemy. In 2000, somewhat better informed, Tweedie took advantage of a Fulbright Scholarship to move his family to the eastern German town of Erfurt for the academic year. Far from home and the familiar, with temporary status and a tenuous grasp of the language, he and his wife were curious to see how they would function shorn of all the rules that governed their daily lives—housing, food acquisition, transportation, and even basic communication. As soon as their taxi delivered them to their grim tan and concrete Soviet-vintage apartment building, they knew their education had begun.

Learning about life in the former East Germany, amid the feverish embrace of Western culture and the tenacious legacy of a totalitarian past, Tweedie comes to understand the deeper cultural assumptions through which Americans view the larger world. Part travelogue, part history, part cultural critique, all thoroughly engrossing, the story of his yearlong experience is one of dislocation and accommodation, making a German town his own and now ours.

Author Bio

Sanford Tweedie is an award-winning teacher and professor in the Department of Writing Arts at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. He has published widely, including work in the journals College Composition and Communication and Exquisite Corpse.


“Tweedie has achieved what the best memoirs strive for. Beyond telling the story of a year in Germany, In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall is an eloquent argument for trying something novel, learning something new, and embracing discomfort to become a bigger, better, and more compassionate person.”—Julija Šukys, author of Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė

“Few Americans these days take the trouble to investigate a country about which they know less than they think. Sanford Tweedie has, and the result is a lucidly written and perceptive account of one family’s experience of a Germany that—though now united—is not yet as one.”—Michael Gorra, author of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece

"In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall is highly recommended."—Jack Mason, Midwest Book Review

"Tweedie's bravery and persistence in the face of formidable challenges makes for an entertaining and recommended read."—D. Driftless, Readers Lane

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Walls in Our Heads 
1. Breaking Down the Wall 
2. But for the Weather 
3. Leaving the American Sector 
4. Concrete Details: Your Guide's Tour of Erfurt 
5. <SC>alf</SC>s, Autos, and Encounters with the Polizei 
6. Words Fail Me, Yet Again 
7. Destinations and Wanderings 
8. Field without Dreams: Baseball in the Former GDR 
9. The Class That Doesn't Exist in the Country That Once Did 
10. Whatever You Do, Don't Look Down 
11. In Former Times 
Afterword: Echoes of a Fallen Wall 

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