This book is designed to quickly enlighten readers about nature of East Europe. Comprehensive and multiperspective--yet easy and enjoyable to read--it provides an accessible overview of everything that's politically relevant for the region—geography, political history, Soviet occupation, Cold War, and system collapse. Caught between Empires. Flunking Democracy: The Interwar Years. East Europe and World War II. The Communist Takeovers. The Hated Regimes. “We Pretend to Work” : The Decay of Communism. 1989: The Gorbachev Factor. The Struggle for Democracy. The Horrors of Yugoslavia. Lessons, Hopes, Fears. For those interested in Eastern European Politics, Cold War History, Comparative Politics, International Relations.
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Designed especially to meet the needs of introductory-level students and to quickly enlighten them about East Europe, this comprehensive, multiperspective overview covers everything that's politically relevant for the region -- geography, political history, Soviet occupation, Cold War, and system collapse.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THIS BOOK IS NOT WRITTEN BY AN EXPERT ON EAST EUROPE, NOR IS IT INTENDED l for such experts. It grew out of my decision to include East Europe in an introductory comparative politics course. At the time, the upheaval in East Europe was making headlines every day; I could think of no way to make comparative politics more exciting or relevant. I looked for an introductory text and found nothing suitable. Existing works on East Europe tended to be overly specialized studies, sometimes of single countries, that had been overtaken by events. Many of these studies, prepared with great diligence by careful scholars, became irrelevant; Some were based on mistaken assumptions. Furthermore, the leading edge of political science requires its practitioners to theorize too much. To read some studies, one might think East Europe was populated by theories rather than by humans.
The net package was a literature that was inaccessible to undergraduates, especially first-time students of East Europe. Many students have never been exposed to the basics that make something like East Europe intelligible. Especially lacking in the specialized literature are geography and twentieth-century history. How many students, for example, can locate Southern Dobrudja on a map? (Even worse, after they have been shown, a few still cannot locate Northern Dobrudja.) Accordingly, an introductory text must fill in many gaps in basic student knowledge.
Writing this book gave me the opportunity to return to an area that was of great interest to me many years ago. From 1963 to 1964, I studied at the University of Belgrade, and I authored an earlier book (Other Governments of Europe, Prentice Hall, 1977) that included Yugoslavia and East Germany. It was good to get back to an area that in recent years has not attracted the attention it deserves. For classroom instruction, East Europe and its recent upheavals provide some wonderful examples and case studies of legitimacy (or lack thereof), ideology (or lack thereof), the relation between politics and economics, international dependency, political culture, institution building, and party systems. Especially fascinating are the differences between East and West Europe and how rapidly the former will catch up with the latter.
In the course of writing this book, it occurred to me that I was engaged in dialogues with three imaginary figures: one a leftist, one a rightist, and the third an optimistic political scientist. These figures are composites of people I have known over the years. The leftist, while uncomfortable with the actual workings of Communist East Europe, still thinks that Marx was basically right and that some type of socialism, perhaps the alleged "humanist" variety of the young Marx,, is the progressive thing to aim for. But East Europe really was socialism in action: What you saw was what you got.
The rightist, on the other hand, is little aware of how bad and backward East Europe was before the Communists took over and, afterward, how difficult the transition from Communism will be. Rightists tend to believe that everything will be great with the Communists out of power. It is not that simple. The sources of instability are many in East Europe, and attitudes and institutions are not yet fully attuned to pluralist democracy and a market economy. Extreme and sometimes bloody nationalism erupted after the Communist blanket was removed. I still hope that after a long and difficult period of adjustment, most of East Europe will join West Europe as modern democracies and free economies.
The imaginary political scientist, steeped in theories of systems and stability, for some years thought East Europe was headed for a middle way of hybrid regimes in which the Communists shared power with others. After some decades of reflecting on middle ways or third paths between communism and democracy, controlled and market economies (the purpose of my year in Yugoslavia), I concluded that they do not exist, or, if attempted, have short life spans. Events in East Europe and the ex-Soviet Union, I think, bear me out. My imaginary scholar also closely analyzed party elites, too closely to notice that the whole system depended on the threat of Soviet intervention. Take away that threat and the game of musical chairs in some politburo is about as significant as arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
This fourth edition has allowed me to get into the dynamics of building democracy and the violence of ex-Yugoslavia. Chapter 8 borrows from my article on party systems in the March 1993 East European Quarterly. My thanks go to its editor, Stephen Fischer-Galati, for permission to use portions of this article. Chapter 9 includes portions of my article on the war in ex-Yugoslavia in the Autumn 1994 Parameters, the journal of the U.S. Army War College, where I served as a visiting professor from 1991 to 1994. This experience was a time of intellectual growth and challenge, during which I came to appreciate more sharply the security dilemmas of the region. Dr. Gary Guertner and retired Col. John Madigan, editor of Parameters, encouraged me to elaborate some of my ideas on ex-Yugoslavia. One of the highlights of the Army War College is working with International Fellows, some of whom were directly relevant to this book. I must thank Col. Gunther Wolfframm of Austria; Lt. Col. Thadeusz Lesniowski, Col. Zdzislaw Wojcik, and Col. Kazimierz Sikorski of Poland; Col. Tibor Nagy and Maj. Gen. Ferenc Vegh of Hungary; and Lt. Col. Jiri Sedivy of the Czech Republic, from whom I learned so much.
Special thanks must also go to Zsuzsa Kelen, an economist and distant cousin in Budapest, who gave me many insights into the economic difficulties of the transition to a market system. Doctors Cestmir Konecny and Miloslav Had of the Institute of International Relations in Prague illuminated the factors underlying the Czech-Slovak split. 44. Gen. Pavol Gavlas, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies in Prague, gave me a lucid, somber orientation on the security implications of Slovak separation, and Dr. Andrzej Karkoszka of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw gave me a clear perspective on the various impacts of Poland's massive economic change. Dr. Anton Zabkar of the Slovenian Defense Ministry gave me an insider's view of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the role of the Yugoslav army in it. I also owe special thanks to my Lycoming colleagues. Historian Robert Larson, with whom I toured Central Europe in 1992, made important comments about and corrections in some of my historical chapters; he saved me from making several misstatements. Mathematician Andrzej Bucki gave me an insider's view of Solidarity and taught me how to pronounce Polish names. Additionally, I wish to thank Donald E. Pienkos of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Zachary T. Irwin of the Pennsylvania State University-Erie, The Behrend College; and Joan Serafm of Frostburg State University in Maryland for their conscientious and helpful remarks on the first edition.
Full responsibility, of course, is mine. I welcome all professional comments and corrections for possible future editions. They can be sent directly to me at Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA 17701, or e-mail email@example.com.
Michael G. Roskin
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