The Ghosts of Europe
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Publication date: September 23, 2010
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One of the country’s most distinguished writers and publishers returns to her roots to explore the consequences of democracy in the former Habsburg lands.
In 1989 the Berlin Wall was dismantled. Communism gave way to democracy. Since that time the former borderlands of the long defunct Habsburg Empire and the more recently dispersed Soviet Empire have been trying to invent their own versions of democracy and market-driven economics. But these experiments have led to a widening gap between rich and poor. The worldwide economic crisis has severely tested Central Europe’s determination to live peaceably, and there are many disquieting signs of old hatreds and racial tensions returning.
Author Anna Porter travels through the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to speak with leading intellectuals, politicians, former dissidents and the champions of aggrieved memories. She interviews great figures of the revolution (Václav Havel, Adam Michnik, George Konrád) and its new custodians, among them Radek Sikorski and Ferenc Gyurcsány, and also examines the younger generation with little or no experience of Communism and no interest in its aftermath. She visits Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, Prague’s Jewish Museum and Hungary’s House of Terror, each an attempt to reckon with dark episodes of history.
The Ghosts of Europe is a compelling exploration of power, nationalism, racism and denial in nations with a tumultuous history and an uncertain future.
Praise for The Ghosts of Europe
“The theme of retrospect and prospect runs through Anna Porter’s intriguing and accessible narrative…”
— Paula Newberg, Globe and Mail, September 24, 2010
“Porter offers a succinct, highly readable, contemporary history, interspersed with interviews with influential national figures regarding past, present and future.”
— Philip Marchand, National Post, September 11, 2010
“Focusing on the past century, Porter covers a dense landscape of loss, grievance, revenge and barely submerged guilt that echoes to the present day, raising troubling moral questions.”
— Olivia Ward, Toronto Star
Table of Contents
The Other Europe
Nostalgia for the Habsburgs
The Return of Memory
The Last of the Great Resistance Intelligentsia
2. THE CZECH REPUBLIC
“The Power of the Powerless”
The Uses of History
Burying the Dead
Outcasts, Émigrés and Exiles