New Books Network

David Crowley and Susan Reid, “Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Block” (Northwestern UP, 2010)
We all know socialism failed in Eastern Europe and that failure reflected two great shortcomings: a lack of democracy and an economic system that consistently fell short in providing its ostensible benefactors, the workers, with consumer goods from housing to fashion. Yet paradoxically the more ingrained these truths become the... Read More
Mary Neuburger, “The Orient Within: Muslim Minorities and the Negotiation of Nationhood in Modern Bulgaria (Cornell UP, 2004)
Eastern Europe has never had the draw for scholars or tourists of France, Italy, Germany, or Great Britain, and within eastern Europe Bulgaria has invariably been overshadowed by Poland and the former Habsburg territories in the north and the more volatile region of former Yugoslavia. Just because Bulgarian history has... Read More
Nathaniel Wood, “Becoming Metropolitan: Urban Selfhood and the Making of Modern Cracow” (Northern Illinois UP, 2010 )
When I began my graduate history, virtually all my fellow apprentice historians of eastern Europe were captivated by nationalism and focused their research accordingly. Of particular interest was how people from nobles to peasants came to identify themselves as part of a common national identity as society modernized. Nathaniel Wood... Read More
Andrew Wilson, “Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship” (Yale UP, 2011)
A couple of weeks ago I took a bus from Warsaw and travelled east across the River Bug. The border took a long time to cross, but then this was no ordinary border – it was the border between the Europe of the modern world, of the EU (with all... Read More
Gale Stokes, “The Walls Came Tumbling Down” (2nd Edition, Oxford UP, 2011)
Europe may currently be in crisis and riven with divisions, but at least it’s a Europe of independent states. It was not always so. The Soviets dominated Eastern Europe for nearly half a century following the defeat of the Nazis. And for most of that time it seemed Soviet domination... Read More
Elizabeth Gowing, “Travels in Blood and Honey: Becoming a Beekeeper in Kosovo” (
The hardest part of living in a foreign land is crossing that invisible divide between being an outsider and getting to know a country properly. An old foreign correspondent friend of mine said that the newspaper standard was that it always took at least two years and a lot of... Read More
Timothy Snyder, “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” (Basic Books, 2011)
Neville Chamberlain described Czechoslovakia as a far away land we know little about. He could have said it about any of the countries of east-central Europe. Yet, for the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany east-central Europe, was of prime importance in ways that would have horrible consequences for the people... Read More
Richard C. Hall, “The Modern Balkans: A History” (Reaktion Books, 2011)
Some parts of the world seem to suffer from rather too much history. The Balkans, that mountainous peninsula situated between the Black Sea and the Adriatic, is most certainly one of them. Perhaps it’s because the Balkans stands on so many of Europe’s historical fault lines: Asia v. Europe; Eastern... Read More
Matthew Kelly, “Finding Poland: From Tavistock to Hruzdowa and Back Again” (Jonathan Cape, 2010)
Very little illustrates history as well as the personal story. For all of the wars, deportations and suffering of the mid Twentieth Century, it’s only when there are real people that the figures come alive. Luckily there are some very good books out there that help us get our heads... Read More
Michael A. Reynolds, “Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1908-1918” (Cambridge UP, 2011)
Most of us live in a world of nations. If you were born and live in the Republic of X, then you probably speak X-ian, are a citizen of X, and would gladly fight and die for your X-ian brothers and sisters. If, however, you were born and live in... Read More