Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel

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9780029326053: Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel

Gives an account of East European politics from the time of Soviet domination to the 1989-90 revolutions, and considers the effect of tyranny on East European culture and politics, the chances for successful and harmonious development in the region, and its relationship with the rest of Europe.

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About the Author:

Vladimir Tismaneanu is a Romanian and American political scientist, political analyst, sociologist, and professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A rather dry account of the failure of Communism in Eastern Europe, told by an expatriate Romanian academic (Political Science/Univ. of Maryland)--long on background, well documented, but plodding as narrative. The best feature of Tismaneanu's history is his exposition of recent events in Romania, about which little is known in this country. He is able to place the monstrosities of the Ceausescu regime--its xenophobia, megalomania, and almost Pharaonic obsession with monuments and public works--within the context of what he calls ``Asiatic despotism,'' and from there he makes a distinction between the Balkan states (Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania)--which had never really been considered (or considered themselves) a part of Europe--and the Central European nations (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany), which unmistakably were. The difficulty facing the Balkan states, in Tismaneanu's view, is that their desperate poverty and long history of foreign political administration have prevented them from developing almost any of the attributes of the ``civil society'' upon which all modern democratic states rely (e.g., effective representative governments, strong national--as opposed to tribal- -identities, uncontested territorial borders). The Central European nations, he says, while suffering immensely from a near-total breakdown of industry and commerce, have at least a strong political cohesion and so can face the future with a good deal less dread. The background history that Tismaneanu supplies--especially in regard to the political movements that swept the region between the world wars--is helpful and interesting, but this is essentially a theoretical book, not a history, and pursues its theory on a surprisingly abstract plane. Strangely removed from the events it describes, and needing a much larger dose of praxis. Readers interested in the extraordinary events of 1989 would do better to look at Mark Frankland's The Patriots' Revolution (reviewed above). -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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