In this unique, panoramic account of faded dreams, journalist John Feffer returns to Eastern Europe a quarter of a century after the fall of communism, to track down hundreds of people he spoke to in the initial atmosphere of optimism as the Iron Curtain fell – from politicians and scholars to trade unionists and grass roots activists.
What he discovers makes for fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, reading. From the Polish scholar who left academia to become head of personnel at Ikea to the Hungarian politician who turned his back on liberal politics to join the far-right Jobbik party, Feffer meets a remarkable cast of characters. He finds that years of free-market reforms have failed to deliver prosperity, corruption and organized crime are rampant, while optimism has given way to bitterness and a newly invigorated nationalism. Even so, through talking to the region’s many extraordinary activists, Feffer shows that against stiff odds hope remains for the region’s future.
'John Feffer is our 21st-century Jack London.'Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums
‘John Feffer brings to this story a traveller’s eye, a rich store of experiences, and a wise perspective. His thoughtful book is a reminder that few nations, anywhere, easily throw off the heritage of tyranny.’Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in our Hearts and King Leopold’s Ghost
‘Both a merciless political history and a compassionate political psychology of central and eastern Europe’s post-Cold War transformation.’Miklos Haraszti, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Belarus
‘Feffer’s vivid, finely crafted chronicle, stocked with real-life characters, explains what went awry in Eastern Europe after communism’Paul Hockenos, author of Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin
‘An essential account of our post-liberal times.’Padraic Kenney, author of A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989
‘A brisk, vivid and wide-ranging survey of a region in the grip of neoliberalism. As Feffer makes clear, this is hardly just a book about Eastern Europe, as the challenges there now seem to be spreading throughout the world. Feffer’s sense of the future evinces both pessimism of the mind and optimism of the will.’Lawrence Weschler, author of Vermeer in Bosnia and Calamities of Exile
‘A breath-taking whirlwind tour through the transformations of eastern Europe over the past 30 years. With its account of the travails of contemporary capitalism, it is also astonishingly relevant for understanding pressing political problems in the United States as well.’David Ost, author of The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Post-Communist Europe
'A searching, analytical work that tries to make sense of where the former East bloc countries are today and why they arrived there. The lucid, gripping narrative is a joy to read and packed with ideas.'International Politics and Society