BEHIND THE CURTAIN by John Gunther
Kirkus Star

BEHIND THE CURTAIN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Gunther's extraordinary ability to pack an enormous amount of information into comparatively brief space is once again evidenced in this new ""inside Europe"". The fact that his survey of Europe today -- primarily behind the curtain -- is of necessity repetitive through the very nature of the Soviet domination and pattern makes it all the more surprising that he has succeeded in leaving so sharply defined an impression of the individual countries he covers:- Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland; and through second-hand information as to current conditions, in Bulgaria, Rumania and Albania. His final and briefer chapters on France and England- his chapter on Germany, handle his subject in a rather different, and less perceptive way, perhaps because his focal points are concerned with Russian satellites. One feels that here is the communist New World, for better , for worse, we must live with it. We must, he feels, support those evidences of independence of Moscow, those germs of revolt, wherever visible. The ""People's Democracy"" term is camouflage, actually the satellites are totalitarian states, varying in their degrees of police state repression with nowhere freedom of press and assembly, and with freedom of worship varying. One gets a very distinct and individual sense of the countries themselves; a gool deal of the inner conflicts, the political and economic pattern, little of the social changes though land problems are an integral part in each Communistio taking over. The personalities in power are vignetted. The dilemma into which the U.S.A. has projected itself in Greece, where we go farther in upholding military action, in controlling economic and political matters than Russia in any satellitestate is presented objectively and dispassionately, though critically, Greece, he feels, is an example of a new form of ""client state""- such as we once had in Nicaragua .... In Turkey the dependence is for sustenance, not survival; there is no communist Fifth Column in Turkey; the vitality if this youthful nation is unquestioned. We are simply making possible for them a modern army. In Hungary- despite the Mindszenty case, we see Russia's showpiece; in Czechoslovakia, her must object imposition of the police state, through a coup d'stat based on infiltration. I felt the section on Czechoslovakia the weekest in the book; perhaps it is wishful thinking that makes it difficult to believe the completeness of nslavment .... In final analysis, Gunther does not think war is inevitable or even likely; revolution within the countries, lessening fear within Russia itself, a changing pattern. The American role must be a positive-if a waiting one .... Exceedingly good reading, and certain to reach a wide market.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1949
Publisher: Harper