In This Review

In Search of Lost Meaning: The New Eastern Europe
In Search of Lost Meaning: The New Eastern Europe
By Adam Michnik
University of California Press, 2011, 248 pp

In special cases, one closes a book with the mind churning, stirred by the arguments within. In still rarer cases, one sets down the book and is moved by the spirit and character of its author. This is one such book. Michnik, a prominent editor and a key figure in Poland’s pre-1989 democratic opposition, writes with grace and simplicity. With a stunning, gentle steeliness, he rues developments in Poland since the 1989 revolution, “when the fight for freedom ended and the time of divisions and power struggles began.” His principal disgust is reserved for the “mudslingers” -- on the right and the left, at home and among the diaspora -- who hurl accusations against those, such as the dissident poet Czeslaw Milosz and the Solidarity co-founder Lech Walesa, whose courage and achievements they seek to diminish. What distinguishes Michnik is his passion for dialogue, his abhorrence of revenge, and his willingness to find worth in his political adversaries.