Amounting to a history of Central Europe after the collapse of soviet control, Ash joins the East Germans in their decisive vote for unification, visiting the former leader in prison, accompanies the Poles on their roller-coaster ride to democracy, travels through the killing fields of Kosovo and more.
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In the 1980s, Timothy Garton Ash was a respected Central Europe reporter, his books The Uses of Adversity, We the People and The Polish Revolution required reading on the area, but still very much a specialised field. Over the last decade, Europe's supposed margins have forced their way centre stage, and everyone wants to know, needs to know about Lech Walesa's fall from power in Poland, why Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia crumbled into pieces, about Bosnia and Kosovo, where Russia is going. These are the stories that now fill our front pages, and dominate discussions in Brussels and beyond. History of the Present is a series of 29 essays, sketches and dispatches filed during the 1990s, its title coined by George Kennan in an attempt to capture the uniqueness of Garton Ash's work--at once journalistically contemporary, and yet with a real sense of historical perspective usually only found with that handily sure-footed guide, hindsight. Some of the pieces are now "outdated" in a narrow news sense, but all the more valuable for that--history-with-hindsight will inevitably iron out all the telling creases that Garton Ash records. What he produces is, in his own word, a "kaleidoscope" that eludes crass summary, but even so he concludes with some wise words on what Europe might now mean at the end of the decade. We should all read this book. -- Alan Stewart
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Book Description Random House, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0140283188