In This Review
Hopes and Shadows: Eastern Europe After Communism

Hopes and Shadows: Eastern Europe After Communism

By James F. Brown

Duke University Press, 1994, 367 pp.

Brown, one of the old hands in East European studies, who many times has provided broad, basic accounts of events in postwar Eastern Europe, has done it again. This time he discusses what has been at stake since the end of communism and how it is turning out. As he says, "Communist rule left common problems, calling, not so much for common responses, as for responses that have something in common."

Brown's theme is that states are struggling not with a transition but a revolution, the only transitional element being the current leaders. This revolution must simultaneously build modern democratic polities and market-based economies that can earn their way into Europe, a task beyond anything attempted in modern history. He argues communism has failed twice: first by what it did and second by what it did not do -- eradicate the pre-communist past. Brown draws a number of useful comparisons of approaches to economic reform and the burdens of nationalism, but his optimism depends on trends currently moving in the opposite direction: the flourishing of political liberalism, control of crime and corruption, and assistance of Western nations.