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Eastern Europe’s Davos

Eastern Europe’s Davos

Play Inc. executive Jorg Bang-Jensen has reason to smile. The CEO of Poland’s fourth largest mobile operator has been able to report “steady growth” since the company started operations just six months before the financial crisis.   Now, the question is, “Is the crisis over?” dominated  discussion at Central Europe’s annual gathering of economic futurists […]

Vienna Lights The World

Vienna Lights The World

Blink as you drive south into Vienna’s industrial scrubland and you’ll miss it. The white office set back from the dusty Triesterstraße betrays nothing of the sensuous waterfalls of crystal and intricate gilded chandeliers, unlikely as spaceships, being assembled in the workshops at the back. But the quiet success of Lights of Vienna, a middle-sized, […]

Book Review: Iron Curtain

Book Review: Iron Curtain

Perhaps what is most often forgotten in the more intellectual-inclined discourses of political theory and Marxism is the basic fact that civil society – that sphere that is organically nongovernmental and, if desired, apolitical – is the vibrant lifeblood that allows discourse, and culture, to arise. The Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci long held that […]

Book Review: Anna Porter’s The Ghosts of Europe

Book Review: Anna Porter’s The Ghosts of Europe

The Prisoner Syndrome “We now have democracy,” remarked Czechoslovakia’s president Tomas Masaryk in 1918, after the cobbling together of his beloved postwar multinational state, “all we need are some democrats.” Unfortunately, the countries of Central Europe were to endure some ninety-odd years of identity crisis, marred by decades of totalitarian rule – both fascist and […]

Book Review: Andrzej Stasiuk’s On the Road to Babadag

Book Review: Andrzej Stasiuk’s On the Road to Babadag

Journeys in a Forgotten Europe Tiszaszalka. Răşinari. Székelyföld. The places of Andrzej Stasiuk’s newly translated travel memoir On the Road to Babadag: Travels in the Other Europe are not likely to be familiar to most of his English-language readers, even those well-travelled in the region. The work, like Stasiuk himself, studiously avoids the great cities […]

Book Review: In Praise of Older Women, by Stephen Vizinczey

Truth and Lies in Literature As a destitute immigrant writer in Canada at the age of 24, fleeing from the aftermath of the Hungarian revolution and with about 50 words of English, Stephen Vizinczey saw himself faced with two choices: to fling himself either from the top of a high building in Montreal or into […]

Book Review: Romani Politics in Contemporary Europe

And Who Is a Gypsy? Few seem to care about Europe’s Gypsies, who have been a familiar presence in Central and Eastern Europe for 1,000 years. And even fewer seem to piece together the mesh of social exclusions and disenfranchisement, resulting from chronic unemployment, that have become the norm for millions of EU Romani citizens. […]

Book Review: Dracula Is Dead, by Jim Rosapepe and Shiela Kast

Dracula Is Dead – Or Is He? As a Romanian national, reading a book on Romania written by two Americans is definitely not a daily experience. And admittedly, Dracula Is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged since 1989 as the New Italy has a bit of déjà vu in it, tackling lightly […]

Book Review: Café Europa: Life after Communism, by Slavenka Drakulic

When Mao Tse-Tung was asked what the consequences of the French Revolution had been, he replied that it was too early to tell. Mao may have been right; the consequences of historical regimes are hard to anticipate, even if you have lived through them, and difficult to measure even long after change has occurred. Nevertheless, […]

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