New Books Network

Alexander Maxwell, “Choosing Slovakia: Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language, and Accidental Nationalism” (Tauris Academic Studies, 2009)
On 1 January 1993 Slovakia became an independent nation. According to conventional Slovak nationalist history that event was the culmination of a roughly thousand year struggle. Alexander Maxwell argues quite differently in his book Choosing Slovakia: Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language, and Accidental Nationalism (Tauris Academic Studies, 2009). Although focused... Read More
Kimberly Zarecor, “Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity: Housing in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960” (Pittsburgh UP, 2011)
When I first went to the Soviet Union (in all my ignorance), I was amazed that everyone in Moscow lived in what I called “housing projects.” The Russians called them “houses” (doma), but they weren’t houses as I understood them at all. They were huge, multi-story, cookie-cutter apartment blocks, one... Read More
Melissa Caldwell, “Dacha Idylls: Living Organically in Russia’s Countryside” (University of California Press, 2010)
Russians’ dachas are regularly mentioned in a sentence or two in newspaper articles about life in Russia, and many of who have visited the lands of the former Soviet Union have visited dachas. Yet, just as Russians themselves treat dachas as an escape, outsiders tend to treat them as peripheral.... Read More
Francis Tapon, “The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us” (WanderLearn, 2012)
Most of the specialists in Eastern Europe I know first got truly interested in the region after a trip, which then triggered applications to grad school, years spent reading books, and a year or two in the particular country or region of choice researching a dissertation. Francis Tapon‘s story is... Read More
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