Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Cold War Begins by Roger L. Liles - Book Tour + Giveaway


Second Volume of the Berlin Tunnel Trilogy

Historical Fiction

To Be Published: September 8, 2020

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From Amazon bestsellers list author Roger L. Liles comes the second volume of his Cold War trilogy—THE COLD WAR BEGINS. The setting is war-ravaged Berlin in late 1946. Spies from both sides begin to move with relative ease throughout a Germany occupied by British, French, American and Russian military forces. Kurt Altschuler, our hero, soon becomes one of them.

While working behind enemy lines as an OSS agent in France during World War II, Kurt learns that intelligence collection involves both exhilarating and dangerous encounters with the enemy. He relished every moment he spent as part of the vanguard confronting the Nazis.

That war has been over for 18 months when he is offered a job as a CIA deep-cover agent in the devastated and divided city of Berlin. He jumps at the opportunity, but is concerned that his guise as an Associated Press News Agency reporter will offer little action. He need not worry. Soon, he is working undercover, deep inside of Russian-controlled southeastern Germany. Eventually, KGB agents waylay him and tear his car and luggage apart. His chauffeur is beaten. He is threatened with prison, torture and death.

Enter Erica Hoffmann, a very attractive, aspiring East German archeology student. Any relationship between an undercover CIA agent and an East German woman is strictly forbidden; she might be a KGB or Stasi agent or operative. But he cannot help himself—he has fallen hard for her. Kurt strives assiduously to maintain their tempestuous, star-crossed relationship.

Eventually, Kurt works to counter the efforts of Russian and East German spies, especially a mole who is devastating Western Intelligence assets throughout Europe. He also must work to identify and expose enemy spies who have penetrated the very fabric of the West German government and society. He frequently observes to others that: “the spy business is like knife fighting in a dark closet; you know you’re going to be cut up, you just don’t know how bad.”



Wednesday-Tuesday, February 10-16, 1960

Der Spiegel, the weekly magazine I worked for, was published on Thursday, so it would be available on Friday for people to read over the weekend. Hence, as a head fact-checking editor, my subordinates and I were the last to approve the copy, meaning I always worked late on Wednesday evenings.

It had been almost two years since I had helped my parents escape from the East. Long ago, I had stopped looking over my shoulder, searching for a tail. Berlin’s streets were safe, even at night for women, so I’d stopped worrying about my safety.

It was almost midnight as I trudged through drizzle and fog under heavily overcast skies. The streetlights formed small islands of gray in an otherwise bleak world. I looked forward to a quick shower, and then crawling under the warm covers with my husband.

As I passed a dark alley, someone thrust his arm out, grabbed me, and placed something over my mouth. Another person jabbed a needle into my neck. I could smell a sweet alcohol-like odor and feel myself going limp as they dragged me toward the street. I lost consciousness soon after seeing the trunk of a car close—with me inside.


I slowly became aware of my surroundings, coming out of the fog of whatever drug I was given. It was dark and cold—very cold. For a long time, I huddled up in a ball trying to keep warm; then suddenly I realized I was completely naked! There was a bare mattress beneath me—I could feel the cheap cover fabric and large tufted buttons! Startled, I sat up, suddenly realizing what had happened—I had been kidnapped by the Stasi and was now in one of their prisons in East Berlin. Where else could I be? Who else would kidnap me?

I began trembling and shaking out of fear. My pulse began pounding in my ears and I felt my throat constrict. Nausea caused me to roll over, lurch forward, and vomit over the top of the bed onto the floor. After lying back down, I began hallucinating; soon, they came in—the Stasi officers I’d helped restrain in Papa’s bar became shadows moving around the dark room. I grabbed the mattress on both sides, attempting to wrap it around me. I wanted to cover my nakedness and protect myself from them. “I cannot stand it in here!” I screamed at the shadows. “Let me out! Let me out now! Please!” My screams continued for what seemed like hours, only stopping after my throat began to swell.

My ears continued to ring for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, deep breathing helped me to calm down. It took much longer to regain rational thought, probably because of the drugs still in my system. They have undressed you and placed you in this dark room to intimidate you, I told myself. You must regain your composure or they will have won. You must not let them overwhelm you.

Not knowing how long I’d been here and unable to sleep, I stood and felt block walls as I circled the room. Soon I found the metal door. There was a handle, but no latch. The door was locked or bolted from the outside. Bending over, I could feel a solid smooth cement floor. By standing on the bed, I could not touch the ceiling, and the room had no windows or other openings. There was no toilet. After placing the bed in one corner, I leaned against the wall and urinated on the floor. Exhausted, I lay down on the bed and managed to go to sleep.

Later, I awakened slowly from a deep sleep and realized I needed to defecate. Once finished, I wished I’d resisted this bodily demand. The stench was unbearable. Burying my face in the mattress was the only way to avoid the smell.

By putting the bed in the middle of the room and avoiding that corner with the vomit and fecal material, I was eventually able to walk around the room slowly—then was able to increase my pace, by putting my arms out and touching the walls. Eventually, I stepped in my own feces. As best I could, I scraped it off on the rough block wall. The stench increased. Moving the bed to the far corner, I tried to sleep, but could not—counting seconds, then minutes did nothing to help acclimate me to my circumstance. Sleep eventually came and soon I was home safely in bed making love with my husband. I awoke and, despite my surroundings, satisfied myself. 

This time when I awoke, I had difficulty swallowing and my eyes were dry. Until this point, I had avoided thinking about how thirsty I was. My body was conserving fluids, and I hadn’t peed for a long time. Rolling over on my side in an attempt to get enough saliva to moisten my mouth did no good. Were the Stasi going to kill me by depriving me of water? I remembered an article in the Spiegel about hunger strikers in India; they could last only ten days without water.

I constantly wondered how many days I had been in this cell. I had no time reference, so all I knew was that was more than one and not yet ten.

About the Author

Roger L. Liles decided he had to earn a living after a BA and graduate studies in Modern European History. He went back to school and eventually earned an MS in Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.

In the 1960s, he served as an Air Force Signals Intelligence Officer in Turkey and Germany and eventually lived in Europe for a total of eight years. He worked in the military electronics field for forty years—his main function was to translate engineering jargon into understandable English and communicate it to senior decision-makers in the government.

Now retired after working for forty years as a senior engineering manager and consultant with a number of aerospace companies, he spends his days writing. His first novel, which was published in late 2018 was titled The Berlin Tunnel—A Cold War Thriller. His second novel The Cold War Begins was published in late 2020 and is the second volume in his planned The Cold War Trilogy. This trilogy is based on extensive research into Berlin during the spy-versus-spy era which followed World War II and his personal experience while living and working in Europe. He is in the process of writing its third volume of the trilogy which will be titled The Berlin Tunnel—Another Crisis and takes the story into 1962 and the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis.


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1 comment:

Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.