Central Europe

Throughout the Cold War era, the Iron Curtain divided Central Europe into a Communist East and a democratic West, and we grew accustomed to looking at this part of the world in bipolar ideological terms. Yet many people living on both sides of the Iron Curtain considered themselves Central Europeans, and the idea of Central Europe was one of the driving forces behind the revolutionary year of 1989 as well as the deterioration of Yugoslavia and its ensuing wars. Central Europe provides a broad overview and comparative analysis of key events in a historical region that encompasses contemporary Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia. Starting with the initial conversion of the "pagan" peoples of the region to Christianity around 1000 A.D. and concluding with the revolutions of 1989 and the problems of post-Communist states today, it illuminates the distinctive nature and peculiarities of the historical development of this region as a cohesive whole. Lonnie R. Johnson introduces readers to Central Europe's heritage of diversity, the interplay of its cultures, and the origins of its malicious ethnic and national conflicts. History in Central Europe, he shows, has been epic and tragic. Throughout the ages, small nations struggled valiantly against a series of imperial powers--Ottoman Turkey, Habsburg Austria, imperial Germany, czarist Russia, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union--and they lost regularly. Johnson's account is present-minded in the best sense: in describing actual historical events, he illustrates the ways they have been remembered, and how they contribute to the national assumptions that still drive European politics today. Indeed, the constant interplay of reality and myth--the processes of myth-making and remembrance--animates much of this history. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the unanticipated problems of transforming post-Communist states into democracies with market economies, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the challenges of European integration have all made Central Europe the most dynamic and troubled region in Europe. In Central Europe, Johnson combines a vivid and panoramic narrative of events, a nuanced analysis of social, economic, and political developments, and a thoughtful portrait of those myths and memories that have lives of their own--and consequences for all of Europe.
For four centuries, the Polish�Lithuanian state encompassed a major geographic region comparable to present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, and Romania. Governed by a constitutional monarchy that offered the numerous nobility extensive civil and political rights, it enjoyed unusual domestic tranquility, for its military strength kept most enemies at bay until the mid-seventeenth century and the country generally avoided civil wars. Selling grain and timber to western Europe helped make it exceptionally wealthy for much of the period.

The Polish�Lithuanian State, 1386�1795 is the first account in English devoted specifically to this important era. It takes a regional rather than a national approach, considering the internal development of the Ukrainian, Jewish, Lithuanian, and Prussian German nations that coexisted with the Poles in this multinational state. Presenting Jewish history also clarifies urban history, because Jews lived in the unincorporated "private cities" and suburbs, which historians have overlooked in favor of incorporated "royal cities." In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the private cities and suburbs often thrived while the inner cities decayed. The book also traces the institutional development of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland�Lithuania, one of the few European states to escape bloody religious conflict during the Reformation and Counter Reformation.

Both seasoned historians and general readers will appreciate the many excellent brief biographies that advance the narrative and illuminate the subject matter of this comprehensive and absorbing volume.

The 1990s. An extraordinary decade in Europe. At its beginning, the old order collapsed along with the Berlin Wall. Everything seemed possible. Everyone hailed a brave new Europe. But no one knew what this new Europe would look like. Now we know. Most of Western Europe has launched into the unprecedented gamble of monetary union, though Britain stands aside. Germany, peacefully united, with its capital in Berlin, is again the most powerful country in Europe. The Central Europeans—Poles, Czechs, Hungarians—have made successful transitions from communism to capitalism and have joined NATO. But farther east and south, in the territories of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia, the continent has descended into a bloody swamp of poverty, corruption, criminality, war, and bestial atrocities such as we never thought would be seen again in Europe.
        Timothy Garton Ash chronicles this formative decade through a glittering collection of essays, sketches, and dispatches written as history was being made. He joins the East Germans for their decisive vote for unification and visits their former leader in prison. He accompanies the Poles on their roller-coaster ride from dictatorship to democracy. He uncovers the motives for monetary union in Paris and Bonn. He walks in mass demonstrations in Belgrade and travels through the killing fields of Kosovo. Occasionally, he even becomes an actor in a drama he describes: debating Germany with Margaret Thatcher or the role of the intellectual with Václav Havel in Prague. Ranging from Vienna to Saint Petersburg, from Britain to Ruthenia, Garton Ash reflects on how "the single great conflict" of the cold war has been replaced by many smaller ones. And he asks what part the United States still has to play. Sometimes he takes an eagle's-eye view, considering the present attempt to unite Europe against the background of a thousand years of such efforts. But often he swoops to seize one telling human story: that of a wiry old farmer in Croatia, a newspaper editor in Warsaw, or a bitter, beautiful survivor from Sarajevo.
        His eye is sharp and ironic but always compassionate. History of the Present continues the work that Garton Ash began with his trilogy of books about Central Europe in the 1980s, combining the crafts of journalism and history. In his Introduction, he argues that we should not wait until the archives are opened before starting to write the history of our own times. Then he shows how it can be done.
The dramatic and little-known story of how, in the summer of 1920, Lenin came within a hair's breadth of shattering the painstakingly constructed Versailles peace settlement and spreading Bolshevism to western Europe.

In 1920 the new Soviet state was a mess, following a brutal civil war, and the best way of ensuring its survival appeared to be to export the revolution to Germany, itself economically ruined by defeat in World War I and racked by internal political dissension.

Between Russia and Germany lay Poland, a nation that had only just recovered its independence after more than a century of foreign oppression. But it was economically and militarily weak and its misguided offensive to liberate the Ukraine in the spring of 1920 laid it open to attack. Egged on by Trotsky, Lenin launched a massive westward advance under the flamboyant Marshal Tukhachevsky.

All that Great Britain and France had fought for over four years now seemed at risk. By the middle of August the Russians were only a few kilometres from Warsaw, and Berlin was less than a week's march away. Then occurred the 'Miracle of the Vistula': the Polish army led by Jozef Pilsudski regrouped and achieved one of the most decisive victories in military history.

As a result, the Versailles peace settlement survived, and Lenin was forced to settle for Communism in one country. The battle for Warsaw bought Europe nearly two decades of peace, and communism remained a mainly Russian phenomenon, subsuming many of the autocratic and Byzantine characteristics of Russia's tsarist tradition.

The definitive biography of the legendary autocrat whose enlightened rule transformed the map of Europe and changed the course of history

Few figures loom as large in European history as Frederick the Great. When he inherited the Prussian crown in 1740, he ruled over a kingdom of scattered territories, a minor Germanic backwater. By the end of his reign, the much larger and consolidated Prussia ranked among the continent’s great powers. In this magisterial biography, award-winning historian Tim Blanning gives us an intimate, in-depth portrait of a king who dominated the political, military, and cultural life of Europe half a century before Napoleon.

A brilliant, ambitious, sometimes ruthless monarch, Frederick was a man of immense contradictions. This consummate conqueror was also an ardent patron of the arts who attracted painters, architects, musicians, playwrights, and intellectuals to his court. Like his fellow autocrat Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick was captivated by the ideals of the Enlightenment—for many years he kept up lively correspondence with Voltaire and other leading thinkers of the age. Yet, like Catherine, Frederick drew the line when it came to implementing Enlightenment principles that might curtail his royal authority.

Frederick’s terrifying father instilled in him a stern military discipline that would make the future king one of the most fearsome battlefield commanders of his day, while deriding as effeminate his son’s passion for modern ideas and fine art. Frederick, driven to surpass his father’s legacy, challenged the dominant German-speaking powers, including Saxony, Bavaria, and the Habsburg Monarchy. It was an audacious foreign policy gambit, one at which Frederick, against the expectations of his rivals, succeeded.

In examining Frederick’s private life, Blanning also carefully considers the long-debated question of Frederick’s sexuality, finding evidence that Frederick lavished gifts on his male friends and maintained homosexual relationships throughout his life, while limiting contact with his estranged, unloved queen to visits that were few and far between.

The story of one man’s life and the complete political and cultural transformation of a nation, Tim Blanning’s sweeping biography takes readers inside the mind of the monarch, giving us a fresh understanding of Frederick the Great’s remarkable reign.

Praise for Frederick the Great

“Writing Frederick’s biography . . . requires a diverse set of skills: expertise in eighteenth-century diplomatic and military history, including the intricacies of the Holy Roman Empire; a familiarity with the music, architecture and intellectual traditions of Northern Europe; and, not least, a profound sense of human psychology, the better to grasp the makeup of this complex and tormented man. Fortunately, Tim Blanning . . . has all of these skills in abundance.”—The Wall Street Journal

“At once scholarly and highly readable . . . [Blanning] has given us a superb portrait of an enlightened despot, equally at home on the battlefield and in the opera house, both utterly ruthless and culturally refined.”—Commentary

“Blanning, in clear thinking and prose, investigates all aspects of Frederick’s personality and reign. . . . The last word on this significant king, for years to come.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Masterly . . . Blanning brilliantly brings to life one of the most complex characters of modern European history.”—The Telegraph (five stars)

“A supremely nuanced account . . . This biography finds [Blanning] at the height of his powers.”—Literary Review
The publication of Victor Klemperer's secret diaries brings to light one of the most extraordinary documents of the Nazi period. "In its cool, lucid style and power of observation," said The New York Times, "it is the best  written, most evocative, most observant record of daily life in the Third Reich." I Will Bear Witness is a work of literature as well as a revelation of the day-by-day horror of the Nazi years.
                          
A Dresden Jew, a veteran of World War I, a man of letters and historian of great sophistication, Klemperer recognized the danger of Hitler as early as 1933. His diaries, written in secrecy, provide a vivid account of everyday life in Hitler's Germany.
                          
What makes this book so remarkable, aside from its literary distinction, is Klemperer's preoccupation with the thoughts and actions of ordinary Germans: Berger the greengrocer, who was given Klemperer's house ("anti-Hitlerist, but of course pleased at the good exchange"), the fishmonger, the baker, the much-visited dentist. All offer their thoughts and theories on the progress of the war: Will England hold out? Who listens to Goebbels? How much longer will it last?
                          
This symphony of voices is ordered by the brilliant, grumbling Klemperer, struggling to complete his work on eighteenth-century France while documenting the ever- tightening Nazi grip. He loses first his professorship and then his car, his phone, his house, even his typewriter, and is forced to move into a Jews' House (the last step before the camps), put his cat to death (Jews may not own pets), and suffer countless other indignities.
                          
Despite the danger his diaries would pose if discovered, Klemperer sees it as his duty to record events. "I continue to write," he notes in 1941 after a terrifying run-in with the police. "This is my heroics. I want to bear witness, precise witness, until the very end."   When a neighbor remarks that, in his isolation, Klemperer will not be able to cover the main events of the war, he writes: "It's not the big things that are important, but the everyday life of  tyranny, which may be forgotten. A thousand mosquito bites are worse than a blow on the head. I observe, I note, the mosquito bites."
                          
This book covers the years from 1933 to 1941. Volume Two, from 1941  to 1945, will be published in 1999.
Sometimes a city can be like a bird. Just as the magpie is an inveterate collector, hoarding beautiful eclectic bits to line its nest, so Prague retains fragments from bygone regimes and centuries past to create a city of juxtaposition that is alternately exquisite and bizarre.

Prague’s personality is expressed as much by its obvious beauty as by its overlooked details. This unforgettable place is brought to life by acclaimed author Myla Goldberg, a former Prague expat, whose first novel, Bee Season, captivated so many with its unique voice and exhilarating prose.

Myla Goldberg lived in Prague in 1993, just as the process of Westernization was getting under way, the city straddling a past it wished to shed and a future it was eager to embrace. In 2003, she returned to see what the pursuit of capitalism had wrought and to observe the integral ways in which Prague’s character had endured. In Time’s Magpie, Goldberg explores a city where centuries-old buildings have become receptacles for Western values and a generation defined by the Communist regime coexists with a generation for whom Communism is a rapidly fading memory.

Wander through the narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets to places most tourists never see—to a neighborhood eerily transformed by the devastating flood of 2002; to an anachronistic amusement park that is home to a discomfiting array of Technicolor confections; and to the cabinets of curiosity in the Strahov Monastery, where hidden among deceptively modest displays of butterfly specimens and ladies’ fans are creatures that defy the laws of taxidermy. This imaginative, individualistic journey will show you the odd and unique corners of a city often seeking to erase what its very stones will not allow it to forget.
The Kreisky Era in Austria, spanning the years 1970 to 1983, is dedicated to one of the country's greatest statesmen of the postwar period. Bruno Kreisky survived Viennese anti-Semitism, and came to dominate postwar Austrian politics. His career spans the turmoil that has confounded Austrian history throughout the twentieth century. Through his Middle East, detente, and third world initiatives, Kreisky achieved world-class status as a statesman during the cold war. These chapters provide the first scholarly assessment of the Kreisky era.
Contributors cover a variety of issues in Austrian politics and many aspects of Kreisky's career. Pierre Secher analyzes Kreisky's paradoxical relationship with Jews and Israel. Otmar Holl traces the Austrian's brilliant and controversial career in foreign policy. Peter Ulram demonstrates how deeply Kreisky transformed Austria with his policies of modernization, secularization, and liberalization. Oliver Rathkolb shows how American presidents since Truman have both admired and detested the bold and creative initiatives emanating from Vienna. Susan Howell and Anton Pelinka compare American and European populist right-wing politics, putting David Duke and Jorg Halder in their respective political contexts.
The new "forum" section presents heated debates on the future of Austrian neutrality and the 1955 State Treaty. The "forum" will become a regular feature in this series. Included in this comprehensive volume are review essays, book reviews, and a summary of Austrian politics in 1992. The Kreisky Era in Austria will be of interest to foreign policy analysts, historians, and scholars of Central European politics.
"A joy to read, in fact, a book so good one doesn't want it to end…. Kempe has written a piece of contemporary history as it should be written, in clear, engaging prose, and with judicious and sensible arguments. He has expertly handled the history of modern Germany, and given us insights into the German soul, including his own, that are crucial for an understanding of our modern world." -Kirkus Reviews

"While Kempe does not sugarcoat Germany's current problems-its dyspeptic tolerance of immigrants, its pervasive bureaucracy and pedantry, the viciousness of the neo-Nazis-he argues that young Germans are right to no longer feel guilt for the Holocaust, as long as they learn its lessons." -Newsday

"This is a fascinating and important book for anyone interested in the New and Old Germany. Fred Kempe, a distinguished foreign correspondent who has reported from many countries, turns in Father/Land to a different land-the mysteries and dark secrets of his German family that lay shrouded since the Third Reich. As painful as it is, this is a search that Kempe could no longer refuse if he was to bring some sense to his American character and German roots. As he interweaves his family's history with that of the German nation, his personal quest becomes a window not only into the German past but also into Germany's future." -Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize and coauthor of The Commanding Heights

"Father/Land takes us on a spellbinding journey into Germany's past and present that begins with a musty olive trunk of old papers Fred Kempe inherited from his father. Inside that trunk lies the enduring mystery of the German people. Kempe's lively writing makes us see the paradox of modern Germany in small things-such as the trashcans at the Frankfurt airport or the personal quirks of Kempe's teammates on an amateur basketball team in Berlin. When Kempe finally discovers the horrific story that lies buried in his own family's history, the reader has the shock of experiencing the nightmare of Nazism from the inside." -David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post, and author of A Firing Offense

"From a skilled American reporter's search for his German ancestry emerges a rich and rewarding portrait of a nation moving toward a promising future even as it remains tied to an inescapable past." -Ronald Steel, author of Walter Lippmann and the American Century

"No foreign correspondent knows Germany as well as Frederick Kempe. He understands us sometimes better than we understand ourselves. His book is a refreshing, human look at where Germany is going, and it shows deep understanding for where it has been." -Volker RÃ1⁄4he, former defense minister of Germany

Father/Land is a brilliant, unorthodox work of observation, insight, and commentary, a provocative book that will become required reading for anyone seeking to understand modern Germany. And it is something more. For in researching the past, Kempe discovered that the ghosts of Germany's past were not limited to others, that the contradictory threads of good and evil wove through his own family as well. After years of denying his own Germanness, he would have to confront it at last.

During a pilgrimage to Germany with his father, Fred Kempe promised him he would write about modern Germany. Twelve years later, as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal Europe, Kempe began a long journey of exploration in an attempt to answer questions that haunted him about his father's land: "How could such an apparently good people with such a rich cultural history have done such evil things? What causes evil, and what breeds good? After only half a century of reeducation and reconstruction, could the strength of German democracy and liberalism be as great as it seemed?"

In this book, Fred Kempe delves into Germany's demographic change, its modern military, its youth, and America's role in the remaking of Germany after the war. He also looks at German pre-war history and how that history plays into shaping the future of the newly intact Germany. While searching modern Germany for the answers to his philosophical questions, Kempe finds himself in a parallel search for the roots of his own German heritage. Through seeking out relatives and searching documents that might enlighten him about the unspoken mysteries of his family's past, he discovers more than he bargained for, and at the same time learns a great deal about himself. The journey that began as the fulfillment of a promise to his father, led him as he had hoped, to a greater understanding his father's Heimat.

In the last chapter of his book, Kempe calls modern Germany "America's Stepchild." He theorizes that Germans, because of their past atrocities, feel a great responsibility to their European neighbors as well as to the world. In their process of atonement, they have become a kinder and gentler people, while their strength remains. Their role as a world leader beckons them to heights to which they no longer aspire. Reaching great heights makes the world seem conquerable. This is the mistake they must avoid. Reaching out makes the world more united. This is the direction they know they must go.

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