Gale Stokes, "The Walls Came Tumbling Down" (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 would never end. Then, unexpectedly, the Berlin Wall was no more. Eastern European states that had limited experience with democracy and open society began feeling their way forward and aspiring to become full fledged members of Europe. Many now are.

Gale Stokes first wrote about how this monumental transformation happened in the first edition of The Walls Came Tumbling Down in 1993. He has now updated that story (The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Collapse and Rebirth in Eastern Europe, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2011) to provide thorough and readable accounts of the brutal collapse of Yugoslavia and the coming of age of the former Soviet satellites and their accession to the European Union. By its nature, it is a complex story with many different perspectives, and Stokes tells it in a fashion that novices to the region can understand, but with insights that experts in the field will find stimulating.

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