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The Ghosts of Europe: Central Europe's Past and Uncertain Future

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  72 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In 1989, Adam Michnik said that Central Europe came “as a messenger not only of freedom and tolerance but also of hatred and intolerance. It is here, in Central Europe, that the last two wars began.” Nearing the twentieth anniversary of Communism’s collapse, acclaimed author Anna Porter traveled to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary to discover whether and h ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Chris
Sep 04, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could age quickly but I found it interesting reading while traveling through Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in mid-2012. Mostly organized by country you learn quite a bit about the politics of memory and identify and the findings are mostly unfavorable, with the countries having a hard time resolving some awful events (I'd like to read a similar book about Vietnam). This is an accessible overview for people unfamiliar with these countries.

As an American, the tourist activities in these countr
...more
Lauren Albert
Apr 16, 2011 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-european
There have been many books on the "ghosts" haunting post-World War II Germany and France--trials, retribution, failures of justice. Less so Central Europe. Porter sets out to see how well (or poorly) the four countries--Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are coping with their ghosts. Sadly, not so well. "As George Soros said, nationalism is catching: 'it flourishes in the absence of a universal idea, such as human rights or civilized conduct.' The problem is that while nationalism ...more
Larry
Dec 16, 2012 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a pleasant book to read not that the writing is poor or the presentation is anything but thorough.... its the subject. Having read this concurrently with seeing a CBC documentary about the treatment or should I say mistreatment, of the Roma people throughout Europe but especially in Hungary it brought home the specter of fascist, ultra nationalism again being on the rise in central Europe (and Greece, Italy, France etc etc). There must always be someone to blame for the ills of socie ...more
Ines
Feb 26, 2011 Ines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Really concise description of the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe, with a separate description for each country and their specific challenges, and socio-economic environments. Unfortunately, if you don't know the history of the region, or who the key players are, then it's probably not the book for you because there's very little introduction to either. It's definitely a more detail-oriented book for those who want to learn more about each country and those who know the key politicians i ...more
H Wesselius
As a historical account of the recent past, it fails. As a journalistic account of how the past connects to the present, its partially successful. Worth reading if only to see the connections of the between the wars era and Central Europe today. She also attempts to link the end of Communism to the present political battles but fails to note the lack of civil society in Slovakia and Hungary prior to 1989 and its contribution to the difficulties facing those two countries. An easy read to fill so ...more
Lindasp
Apr 30, 2014 Lindasp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating in-depth read of the history of 4 eastern European countries from the aftermath of WWII to 1989 when the USSR was dissolved and Communism died for them, and continuing with their struggles up to 2010. I found it easy to read, full of detail and Porter included interviews not only with political figures but also writers, poets, and other experts from the countries. I'm afraid I finished reading the book with a sense of discouragement and a fear that the countries, especially Hungary ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jul 29, 2012 Daniel Kukwa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What a blistering, evocative, sizzling analysis of life in the former Central European nations, 20 years after the momentous events of 1989. This book speaks to me not only as a history teacher, but as the son of Polish immigrants...one who is very intimate with conditions of the 70s and 80s, and the events that lead to the current situation. Having recently visited the region, I can assuredly agree with much of the analysis in this excellent work.
Geoffrey Rose
Apr 23, 2013 Geoffrey Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, evocative and often tragic journey through post-Communist Visegrad (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary). Porter is knowledgeable throughout and while I don't necessarily agree with all of her observations and analysis, this work should be read along similarly themed books like those of Timothy Garton Ash. She's strongest on Poland and on her native Hungary. Highly recommended.
Dave
Jan 18, 2013 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting discussion of how four countries of Eastern Europe have coped with the transition from communism to something else. All four have handled the tendency toward nationalism differently, and all four have handled the records (and politicians) left over from communist rule differently---none of them particularly well.
The Book : An Online Review at The New Republic
FOR AS LONG as liberal democracy holds sway, we will always celebrate the Central European revolutions of 1989. Many factors triggered those glorious upheavals—the acceleration of the arms race, the internal rot in the governments in question, economic stagnation, glasnost and (less powerfully) perestroika. Read more...
Andrew Davis
Sep 05, 2015 Andrew Davis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Without any new materials or insights this booked turned out to be more a travel book than the history one. Targeted perhaps towards those who never read anything about the modern history of central Europe. A big disappointment.
Benjamin Travia
Feb 18, 2014 Benjamin Travia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
As much a person journey through Central Europe as a rather terrifying insight into the democratically weak, often corrupt and nationalist resurgent nations which emerged from behind the Iron Curtain.
Elyse83
Sep 22, 2014 Elyse83 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Porter visits the former Eastern bloc countries of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary to see how democracy and captalism have developed since 1989.
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863158
Anna (Szigethy) Porter began her Canadian publishing career in 1969 at McClelland & Stewart (M&S) as editorial coordinator, under Jack McClelland’s directorship. Genuinely impressed with Porter’s exceptional editorial and organizational skills, McClelland quickly promoted her to executive director in 1970 and editorial director in 1974. Porter eventually rose to become editor-in-chief, as ...more
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“Unlike exotic fruit or fancy cars, democracy is best if it is grown locally. It may take root in the common desire of the people who choose to adopt it, but it cannot be imposed from the outside.” 1 likes
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