Samizdat And An Independent Society In Central And Eastern Europe
By H. Gordon Skilling
Ohio State University Press, 1989, 293 pp.
East European Fault Lines: Dissent, Opposition, And Social Activism
By Janusz Bugajski and Maxine Pollack
Westview Press, 1989, 332 pp.
Many writers of late have dwelt on the subject of dissent in communist countries, and on ways in which an "alternative society" or "independent polity" has been created outside and in opposition to the official order. Gordon Skilling presents his own thoughts and theories on these phenomena and provides data on what has actually happened in samizdat publication, cultural expression, independent historical writing and other activities. He draws his examples from the U.S.S.R. and all the East European countries, but the main story is Czechoslovakia, of which he has knowledge unmatched among Western scholars. East European Fault Lines is limited to six countries but is a more ambitious book in attempting to cover the history of government and opposition in all of them and all the ways in which dissent has manifested itself. Although the text is rather heavily laden with names and dates, they serve a purpose-the total picture of the alternative society that the authors draw, stressing differences as well as common trends within the region and highlighting the example of Poland, is full of promise for continuing change at the expense of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy.