This slim volume is both charming and humorous. In addition it is simultaneously serious and thought-provoking. It takes a tour through a number of East European, former state-socialist countries – Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania and Albania – examining their political and social characteristics before the changes of 1989-90, and in many cases afterwards as well.
This is a collection of writings most of which have been previously published, though not always in English. As such, although they are presented chronologically in terms of their themes, beginning with Karl Marx’s era and ending with today’s global economy, there is a certain disjuncture between chapters. That does mean, however, that they can be read separately, in random order, or even skipped.
Fancy a trip along the entire length of the Danube? It’s probably many people’s dream journey, especially if it could be done on a comfortable cruise ship. But now you don’t have to go to all that expense. All you need is a nice armchair and Andrew Beattie will gently guide you down one of Europe’s longest rivers. Needless to say, you miss the direct experience but that’s partially compensated by the numerous experiences of others, whose eyewitness accounts Beattie freely draws on.
After seven years of research and writing and a Hungarian translation, Bryan Cartledge’s excellent introduction to the history of Hungary is back in print in English. “I began this book in order to satisfy my own curiosity about Hungary’s past”, he says, and the fresh edition this year should help to satisfy other people’s curiosity about the country and the region’s history.
It used to be said that British television was the best in the world. There was justification for that – but no longer. Raymond Fitzwalter explains why.What made British TV great wasn’t that it was British but that it was diverse and had high standards. The result was good quality programming which included top-class news, current affairs and documentaries, as well as impressive dramas with a wide appeal. The roots of this didn’t essentially lie with the BBC, despite all the hype (sometimes justified) which has surrounded that institution. Paradoxically it was the introduction of commercial television in Britain (ITV) in the mid-1950s that brought a fresh wave of thinking to the industry, challenging the stuffiness of the BBC and its close connections with the political establishment.
When the news broke about the recent events in Japan, involving an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis, it immediately hit the headlines across the world. In the process it replaced what had been the top international news story for many days – Libya.
On 30 January 1933 Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and the Nazi Third Reich was born. Two days later the radio station in Berlin’s Potsdammerstrasse broadcast a talk by a 26-year-old theologian. The address had the dry title of “The Younger Generation’s Altered Concept of Leadership” but it was political dynamite because it dealt with the so-called Führer principle. It was an idea, popular in Germany since the end of the First World War, that what the country needed was a new, strong leader to guide it back to greatness. The young theologian explained how such a leader inevitably becomes an idol and a “mis-leader”. Before he could finish, the speech was cut off.
or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good, by Matthew Crawford There is a detectable trend these days for the titles of books to be rather long. No more the snappy, catchy title, easily typed into a search engine or quoted in a bookshop or library – rather something which gives the game away before you’ve even looked into the work. Matthew Crawford’s book represents the trend. Its long title tells you what it’s all about in two, rather lengthy phrases.
In a speech last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned repressive governments not to restrict internet freedom, saying such efforts will ultimately fail.