Of all the genres employed to explore the long night of Eastern European communism, fables have not, until now, been one of them. Drakulic's book is a little like David Sedaris' Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk as serious history. A mouse, a parrot, and a string of other creatures each tell a story about one of the Eastern European states. The parrot describes Yugoslav President Marshal Tito's life on the Brijuni Islands; the cat, Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski's agonized reflections on his 1981 decision to crush Solidarity; the mole, the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall; the pig, the effects of the Hungarian ruler János Kádár's "goulash communism"; and so on. Drakulic is not trying to present the entire communist experience. Rather, she means to let a few apparently random, if significant, facets -- embellished by sardonic fictionalized observations -- give readers a sense of the foibles, fears, and absurdities of life back then.
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