Simon, U.S. Ambassador to Poland, went to teach at Brown University in 1989. It must have been a very good course. These are the lectures, lively, thoughtful, spare and compassionate. Simon has spent a diplomat's career serving in Europe and the Soviet Union or working on the region in Washington, and he brings the insight and wisdom of this practical encounter to the last twenty years' literature on the subject. The result is a seamless, highly readable essay on the twentieth century history of eastern and central Europe, up to and after 1989.