SOVIET EUROPE by Donald R. Shanor


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The author treks through what he still regards as The Captive Nations, reporting for the Chicago Daily News, the Atlantic Monthly, and the New Leader. In each country of Eastern Europe, he looks for Winds of Change. The usual procedure is to hang a chapter on an interview with an important opinion-maker, though the East German engineer Heinz Kramer appears at best to be a composite and possibly an invention based on an array of anti-regime canards. More typical is a man who headed Czech radio during the Dubcek interval; though discouraged, he puts his hope in ""youth"" not ""sitting back."" And more interesting is a top Hungarian economist who says he can outwait COMECON, the Eastern blot's Common Market, plus a Bulgarian peasant who gained fame as a character in a book by another Keynesian economist (also a Bulgarian landowner and novelist) named Khristoforov. The author generally admires, and expects that we will prefer, breezy open-necked types like Silviu Brucan, Rumania's top diplomatic coach, who is quoted (in accordance with his government's policy) as betting on the Sino-Soviet rift to allow Rumania even greater latitude in its dealing with the West. An exemplary cleric is not lacking, namely the Polish Cardinal of Krakow, reportedly esteemed by all the common folk and optimistic about the future of the Church. The fact of the author's low-decibel but high-intensity anti-Communism is a handicap; the thinness of these characters is a bore. Either grafters and cynics, or dowdy ideologues, or Trojan horses for a shimmering post-Communist future -- one needn't read a book to find that sort of map of Eastern Europe, and Shanor has added little penetration or specificity, for all his on. the-spot manner.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row