A reconstruction of that elusive entity, Romanian history, which begins with the Dacians in Roman times, disappears into the realm of legend for centuries, reemerges in the form of the fragmented principalities of Moldavia, Wallachia and the (usually Hungarian) Transylvania and finally reaches a sort of coalescence in 19th century nationalism. The record is dismal enough -- centuries of feuding minorities, foreign invasions and an above average quota of anti-Semitism, and even the author seems depressed by his subject, adopting a ""what can you expect?"" attitude toward the political heirs of such medieval rulers as Vlad the Impaler and Basil the Wolf, and citing the Romanian proverb that ""the fish goes rotten from the head"" to describe the influence of King Carol and his courtiers. Finally, under the communists and Ceausescu there's rapid progress to report, though with a concomitant burden of absolutism and bureaucracy. Untangling the chronology (particularly the parallel histories of the three provinces) requires patience and, most likely, a special interest. The average reader will be satisfied with Lila Perl's chatty, contemporary-oriented survey of Yugoslavia/Romania/Bulgaria (1970).