Shock Waves: Eastern Europe After The Revolutions

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Shock Waves: Eastern Europe After The Revolutions

By John Feffer
South End Press, 1992
338 pp. $40.00
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First came a steady stream of books on the collapse of communism in eastern Europe. Not yet books explaining the deeper and tangled sources of this stunning turn of events, but tactile accounts by people who were there and could share the sights and sounds. Now comes the second wave: a growing number of books and papers on the morning after. Like their predecessors, they are based on travel to the region and intensive encounters with local leaders, intellectuals and political activists.

Feffer has done a lot of traveling-from eastern Germany to Yugoslavia. He covers these countries and all in between by resorting to a clever shortcut. Each is made an illustration of one feature or phenomenon-the former east Germany, the fate of those who led the 1989 revolution; Poland, economic "shock therapy" and its consequences; Hungary, environmental issues and social activism; Czechoslovakia, foreign policy and the search for a new external identity; and so on. Then, sometimes, comparisons are developed with one or two of the other countries. The general reader will find here, in an easily digestible form, what the specialist already knows: the road ahead is hard, and those traveling it are not likely to provide the same inspiration to the rest of us as did their successful struggle to end communism.