KISS THE HAND YOU CANNOT BITE by Edward Behr

KISS THE HAND YOU CANNOT BITE

The Rise and Fall of the Ceausescus

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The stunning ``liberation'' of Romania from the tyranny of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu in 1989 gave veteran journalist (Hirohito, 1989, etc.) and novelist (Getting Even, 1980) Behr the impetus for this bold new look at the country's recent history. Dramatically beginning with the downfall and swift execution of the ruling couple, events that galvanized world attention, the sensational detailsa dwindling Ceausescu escape party as one follower after another slipped away, the overnight disappearance of their corpsesrapidly give way here to a more sedate chronicle of Romanian politics, starting with the royal family imported from Western Europe in the 19th century. Although active from the end of WW I, Communists failed to gain influence until the balance of power changed in 1946, after a Churchill-Stalin agreement placed the country in Soviet hands in exchange for Greece. A trusted subordinate of leader Gheorghiu-Dej, Ceausescu maneuvered himself into an influential Party position, snatching power in 1965. While Wester and Third World governments alike initially thought him a Dubcek-style innovator, he and his wife pampered themselves royally, living in secure and splendid isolation as the people faced increasing hardship and squalor. Here, no lack of informants amend the Ceausescu recordfamily members, dissidents, generals who planned a coupensuring a spirited revision of the official view, even if somewhat suspect given the tendency of interviewees to put a favorable spin on their own roles. A popular history, superficial but eminently readable, with the clear message that only the names of those in power have changed, and the real Romanian revolution is yet to come. (Eight pages of b&w photographsnot seen.)

Pub Date: May 31st, 1991
ISBN: 0-679-40128-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991




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