Emboldened by the chinks in the Iron Curtain, veteran European observer Lengyel proclaims the advent of the Nationalist Era in the Communist bloc and sets off to analyze the predominant national traits of the different countries as clues to their governments' present behavior and leads to the future. He mixes physical description, historical highlights, cultural tidbits and personal observations to arrive at an understanding of each country's ""national genes."" The longest treatment is accorded the Soviet Union itself. Lengyel distills the essence of Russia's past as sobornost, the sense of being a consecrated community; when the Communist revolution created a new mystique and a new ruling class; it was really recreating Russia as the land of the sobornost, although this time it was an atheistic consecration with internationalist pretensions. The new wave of nationalism has brought back the Orthodox Chinch as an institution of eternal Russia and revived her sense of historical exclusivity. The chapters on the other Communist nations from Czechoslovakia to China also illustrate the tensions engendered by the attempt to impose the classic Communist model on richly diverse historical traditions and the ways in which this impatient ideology has had to bow to accustomed loyalties. Neither profound nor genuinely prophetic, this account does serve to further differentiate the satellites.