Your presentations

  • For all  – Your book review of  Marc Leonard  “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe?” (3000-3600 characters)

  • Maria Todorova: Imagining the Balkans
  • Timothy Snyder: Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
  • Derek Sayer: The Coast of Bohemia. A Czech History
  • Norman Davies, Europe East and West  [Part I]
  • Mark Mzower, The Balkans. Short History

 

Subjects of your presentation (You could have your own proposals, please tell it)

  1. French  Perception of CE
  2. Central European  Commerce Relations -    2012
  3. Serbian Accession to EU. Political context.
  4. GINI index in CE (in the context of transformation process) Is it growing since 1989?
  5. Perception of Russia  in Germany
  6. HDI – How it is changing in CE?
  7. Central Europe – Oil & Gas Dependence
  8. EU - enlarged Central Europe plus Ukraine & Belarus
  9. House of European History. What should be there about Central Europe?
  10. The Structure of Russian GDP
  11. The Structure of Ukrainian  GDP
  12. Kosovo –  How stable/unstable is the State?
  13. Bosnia – Could it be a “normal” state?
  14. “The Economist” on CE
  15. China – EU. Comparisation.
  16. George Magnus: Age of Ageing (Book Reviev)
  17. Should Turkey be a member of EU? NO.
  18. Should Turkey be a member of EU? YES
  19. BRIC – what  it is?
  20. Montengro – the Perspective of Accession
  21. Renouvable    Energy – World Investitons
  22. Muslims in Europe. How Many?
  23. ECB – What politics in time of crises?
  24. Greek’s Debt – Who is responsible?
  25. European Identity – Does it exist?
  26. History of European Integration in 15 minutes
  27. Do we need a National States in EU? Pros and cons.
  28. Lissabon Treaty -  history of negotiation & main achievement.

32 thoughts on “Your presentations

  1. Contemporary Issues in Central and Eastern Europe
    „Bloodlands” by Timothy Snyder – Book review
    The history of this part of Europe is one of the bloodiest in the world. In particular, it proved already finished the twentieth century. Jews and Roma Holocaust, the Great Famine in Ukraine, the massacre of Poles in Katyn, Kharkov, Lviv and Volyn, hundreds of deportations, expulsions and ordinary murders, proved that Europe was not only a place where civilization developed, but often the opposite.

    Complain that none of our tragedy does not notice. In the last thirty years the public awareness of the world’s intelligentsia came Holocaust. However, this grumbled Poles or Ukrainians – their tragedies disappear when confronted with the memory of the Holocaust.
    But there are historians who change the prevailing rules and bring the tragic history of our region to the annals of world historiography. After Norman Davies came Timothy Snyder – American historian, who replaced the cathedral at Yale University – Peter Wandycz – Pole who for years has focused his interest on the history of Central and Eastern Europe. He started like many Western historians of Polish – but later expanded his interest to the countries of the former co-creating with it and especially the Republic of Ukraine.
    Snyder book title clearly states what the author wants to tell us. Two of the greatest criminals of the previous century: Hitler and Stalin tore Europe and turned it into a cemetery full of human crimes, exhausted peoples and cultures and a great contradiction of European culture.

    „Bloody Fields” is in fact the former territories of the Republic-present Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics and western Russia from Vyborg to the Kursk. Snyder’s story essentially closes the three decades between the October Revolution and Stalin’s death. Chronologically, the author cites: the next victims of famines in the Soviet Union, the victims of class war, another sentenced to death ethnic groups of the former Soviet Union, the Holocaust of the Jews made by Hitler and his collaborators, the Poles were killed after 1939 on the orders of Stalin and Hitler (the symbol of their death is for Snyder Massacre at Katyn) ethnic cleansing carried out after the war (the expulsion of Polish Ukrainians, Poles from Ukraine and Belarus, the Germans from all over Central and Eastern Europe), the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union after 1948. The author also writes about resistance, the underground and partisan.

    Snyder brings together different points of view. Just look from a distance (America is still quite far away) allowed to prove that it really did not matter the color uniform and language – all of the peoples of our surroundings has become a victim of genocide.
    Reasons which had caused them a lot. Of course they were not only the communist and Soviet totalitarianism. Also, mutual hatred, misunderstanding and ethnic chauvinism Poles or Ukrainians have made their own.

    Snyder writes, as I already mentioned, from a distance. Anglo American – no central European roots, which met in Central and Eastern Europe now as an adult. He met (both contemporary and historical) well enough that it avoids the typical simplifications of alleged experts. It is possible that even the average reader will not be surprised by many of the book American information, but we must remember that the West often do not remember basic facts.

    1. “What’s So Eastern About Eastern Europe?” by Leon Marc
      First published in 2010, six years after the Easter European countries succession in EU.is a personal account of the political, economic and social story of Central and Eastern Europe, it addresses the stereotypes about the region. He book is about stereotypes of each nation in Eastern Europe. Which gives perfect overview of CEE countries. This book its strongly recommend to both Eastern and Western European reader for better understanding the past events and cultural differences between the nations. This book shows past stereotypes, stuck to each nation in Eastern Europe, mainly not valid anymore, but still existing in Western nations mind. In some points this book presents limited perception of Western nations concerning CEE region and its people. According to Leon, the Eastern Europe comprises 12 countries, and everyone is different. They have a different culture, language, customs, interestingly, and in many Western European countries thinks differently.
      The book is an excellent source of practical knowledge, because the author is from Slovenia and he knows the mentality of many nations. In addition, he was in most of these countries, so he know ‚inside version’. .
      Leon Marc in his book tries to explain that the Western and Eastern Europe have the same roots in the history of Europe and share the same culture and social norms. However, it is clear that since 1500, in Western Europe began to develop, but to this date both parts of Europe were at the same level of development. Whether the same culture and similar social norms, recently Western Europe treated Eastern as a bit underdeveloped and backward. But now, author really appreciated last moves towards West, like joining NATO or European Union or even adopting Euro currency, which is the last step of integration. Marc Leon tries to show that the differences between East and West are not as big as it was in the past. Eastern Europe are catching up with those from the West. Today, even reducing stereotypes in Europe. Many of them have roots in the system of communism in Central Europe, which is an amazing influence on the mentality of people, but now most of them are not true. Despite that fact, many people in the West still think of Eastern Europe are poorly developed, guided by old not valid stereotypes.

    2. In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer.
      He presents a comprehensive and long-needed history of the Czech people that is also a remarkably original history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy center. He presents a comprehensive and long-term needs of the history of Czech people, it is also highly original history of modern Europe, said of his restlessness center. Sayer shows that Bohemia was the cradle of Protestantism and the support of the Counter-Reformation, the Austrian imperial province and proudly Slavic national state, the most easterly democracy in Europe and the western outliers of the Soviet bloc. The complexity of its location, led to a deep (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the contemporary state. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera all products of his mind. Sayer describes how Bohemia on the ambiguities and contradictions are the same in Europe, and he feels ironic vision of Europe, the West and modernity from the perspective of a country that is too often ignored.The Coasts of Bohemia draws on an enormous array of literary, musical, visual and documentary sources from notes statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations operatic stage sets, muralsin subway stations indexes censors banned books. This brings us into intimate contact with the ever changing details of everyday life – the names of streets and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps – which created and again the sense of what is to be the Czech Republic. Persistent concern Sayer with questions of place identity, memory and power book in the heart of contemporary intellectual debate. This is an extraordinary story, beautifully told.
      I regret that I did not got to it before my year trip to the Czech Republic. I think this book is made my life, and perceptions of their everyday life much easier.

  2. Maria Todorova: Imagining the Balkans – Book Review

    “ Imagining the Balkans” is a book written by Maria Todorova, a Professor of history , her professional academic carrier is related with the history of the Balkans in the modern time.
    Her book “Imagining the Balkans” concerning history of this region, cultural habits and image of Balkans perceived by the Western culture. She show us the Balkans from the eighteenth century to the present day, using the languages used in guide books, in chronologist order, with many subjective thought and feelings. When you read this book you can feel that the author has much more common with the place and facts which she has described. This is because the Professor was born and grow up in Bulgaria, in the Balkans region. I think the main idea of this book was to introduce to Western culture the issues concerns term Balkanism, which creates a stereotype of the Balkans, paradoxes of cultural reference and its assumptions. As she wrote “ That the Balkans have been described as the “other” of Europe does not need special proof. What has been emphasized about the Balkans is that its inhabitants do not care to conform the standards of behavior devised as normative by and for the civilized world.” Mrs. Todorova want us to think more deeply in the past Balkans history and she required special analysis of this region. In her work we might find the history issues such as Macedonian situation, Alexander and Draga, the Bosnian crisis, assassinations in the Balkans and the Balkan Wars.
    She also argues that the concept of Central Europe was not a region building notion, and that “concrete cooperation failed to materialize”, probably Mrs. Todorova was thinking about the difficulty of getting intellectuals in various capital cities to interact with one another, however I think that the Central Europe has create many associations such as Central European University, Central European Free Trade Association and many different organization, which are corporate each other on economic and political level amongst the European countries.
    In my opinion this book include the author views about Balkans regions social, cultural, political and economic fields of information. It also show many different Balkans social-cultural aspects, which are not completely explained by the author, so I think the reader of the “Imagining the Balkans” should have some basic knowledge about Balkans region. This will increase the understanding of facts and problems, mentioned in the book. I did not know much about this region, so for me it was the first book about the Balkan. I am glad that I had an opportunity to gain new knowledge. To conclude, the book was interesting with challenging ideas and forcefully presented opinions. I will recommend to people with interest to Balkans region and to humanities.

  3. Bloodlands, Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder – book review

    Europe between Hitler and Stalin is a tremendous work which explains in an accessible way the difficult historical issues. This book should be read by both eastern and westerns Europeans, because it will make many problems more clear as well as it will give the overall pricture of the past. Bloodlands is unique in the way the facts were gathered and presented.

    The focus on the suffering of civilians, broad perspective not limited to one nation only and the style accessible for non-academics make Bloodlands an absolute must-read for all the people who want to be able to partcipite in a discussion about the past and its impact on the current and future relation in CEE countries. This book reminds us about a very sad truth about life and mankind that in certain circumstances we are able to do the worst imaginable things.The book that perfectly correlates with Snyder’s book is Golden Harvest by Jan Tomasz Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross.

    These books make us wonder if all the values and beliefs that we currently have are, and will always be, good. Students that were killing in the name of communism were, as well as we are right now, certain that they were doing good for the mankind. Further numbers are also dreadful. In the concentration camps of the Third Reich, a million prisoners died miserable deaths during the Nazi period. But 10 million others who never entered those camps were shot (mostly Jews), deliberately starved to death (mostly Soviet prisoners of war) or gassed in special „killing centres” which were not holding camps at all. At Auschwitz, the overwhelming majority of Jews were taken straight to the gas chambers on arrival. And Auschwitz, terrible as it was, formed a sort of coda to the Jewish Holocaust. By the time the main gas chambers came on line in 1943, most of Europe’s Jewish victims were already dead.
    Timothy Snyder, in his book brings an enormous mass of fresh research. He gives the numbers that illustrate the scale of Stalin’s and Hitler’s tyranny. It is a well written book that leaves a deep and very sad impression on the reader.In Bloodlands one can find not only the description of history of different nations, but also the comparison of two most destructive totalitarian regimes, the rule of Hitler and Stalin. As far as I am concerned, Polish people for instance, do not differentiate between these two systems. For my compatritots both of them were equally cruel and destructive Although this assessment is undoubtedly true, such an oversimplification needs clarification. Snyder describes all the disparities including ideological differences and varying methods of terrorising and killing people. It is essential to know and understand them if we wanto to make judgements about history.

  4. Timothy Snyder
    Bloodlands Europe between Hitler and Stalin

    Timothy Snyder in his book entitled Bloodlands Europe between Hitler and Stalin shows us Central and Eastern Europe with unusual focus. He portrays the suffering, hunger and deaths of millions. Snyder forces us to think and remember about things from the past that we would rather forgot. Images that he brings are so powerful that many of us prefer not to think or read about them. The numbers of people that died just because of wrong policies and evil dictators in CEE are enormously high:

    “during the years that both Stalin and Hitler were in power, more people were killed in Ukraine than anywhere else in the bloodlands, or in Europe, or in the world”

    One after reading such a book rethinks current situation in the world and thinks that such events are not likely to occur. However, most of the events took place no more than one hundred years ago. One hundred years seems to be very insignificant if we will think of the five thousand years of civilization. There are not many things that could have change in one hundred years. Certainly people have not changed and that is what we should be most afraid of. The evil that is in everyone of us may once again burst out and destroy millions of lives.

    After reading this book I am no longer surprised that war combatants strongly oppose broadcasting TV series such as Czterej Pancerni i Pies. The image of war shown there if compared to the Sydner description makes those claims perfectly justifiable.

    This book will make me much more careful while voting. There are some positions and their supporters that are likely to commit similar crimes in good faith. One may just listen to Radio Maryja for a few minutes and see how disturbed image of reality maybe widely believed in. This is the best example of processes similar to those present in previous totalitarian systems that young people may observe in real life.

    I also fully agree with the paper posted by my fellow student, Marcin Rychter. One should rethink the reality and make sure that the beliefs and values that he or she represents are and always will be considered as morally pure. Because as Rychter (2011) noticed in works of Snyder the people that caused so much evil in many cases were also certain that their deeds are and always will be perceived as good and morally acceptable.

    To conclude, Snyder shows the history of CEE from the perspective of mass murders, starvation and pain. It really helps the reader to rethink the reality and hope that the evil nature of man will not cause so much damage again.

  5. Book review by Mikołaj Szymczyk SGH

    “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder is perfect description of all mass murders taken place during II World War done by Hitler and Stalin in Central Eastern Europe. Author gives very detail explanation with numbers of various genocides dividing them into separate methods of killing and mentality of dictator (Hitler, Stalin). Suffering of common people in this region is the main subject of this book together with comprehensive understanding of two methods of murdering civilians during the II World War.
    Having in mind, that I am a Pole, I truly focused on Polish parts in this book, mainly stories of Poles in Soviet Union at the beginning of the War. According to the Snyder, there were over 600,000 Poles, where majority of them were arrested, just because having Polish surname. For example story of mass genocide in Leningrad, where in that time lived over 7,000 Poles, a majority were executed in 10 days with rifles. Another massacre done by Stalin was Katyń, were over 7,000 Poles were killed in the woods. those crimes are undeniable without any explanation and comment. This description of actions taken by Stalin, let us realize that not so many years back Central Eastern Europe was bloody battlefield with 2 dictators against each other. This should us realize that history is needed to understand future; countries, which forgot about the history, do not exist on World map currently. According to Snyder, Hitler had a plan to executed all Slavic nations (Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusian and to some extend Balts) located in CEE region, making space for “New German Nation”. This would be called total determination, killing over 40 million people.
    Another example, given by author, of war crime is great famine caused by Stalin just before the War. This moved move done by dictator resulted in over 6 million deaths from 1932 till the beginning of the War.
    Reading this book, it is very touchy to read about executions and mass killings of Jewish population done by both regimes. According to Snyder over 6 million Jews died, because of ideology of sick people.
    In my opinion, this book is perfect description of great crimes and mass killings committed by Hitler and Stalin. In “Bloodlands” author concentrate on area between Germany and USSR, that became zone of death for millions of Slavs. Comparison of those two destructive leaders is really pointless. Both murdered millions of people, even in own country, concentrating on total power and obedience of people. This book should be read by any historian (both from West and East) interested in mass murders and killing methods during II World War. I would strongly recommend this book for anybody interested in this topic.

  6. Review of Timothy Snyder: „Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin”

    Watching the news every evening, we are overwhelmed by information about the innocent victims of absurd totalitarian regimes. Since these tragic stories usually take place in very distant parts of the world, we often adopt eurocentric perspective and associate these nations with civilastional backwardness.Doing so, we tend to forget that it was not so long ago that such horrible tyrans ruled our continent and as a result thousands people lost their lives. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timoty Snyder helps us to realize that especially the history of Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia is by no means less cruel than the history of African or Asian nations.
    What is unique and interesting about Snyder’s book is his usage of various sources. He is also willing to include the research of other historians in his book, which gives readers the broader perspective and helps to understand all the issues better. It is cruicial as the situation of Bloodlands in the period of Stalins’s and Hitler’s rule was complex, indeed. Geographical location between Russia and Germany resembled a trap where it was difficult to expect any liberation as the change could be only from one totalitarian regime to another. The book describes clearly the methods of nazism and communism.
    In my opinion, Bloodlands as well as all the books that deal with the same topic is very important as thanks to it the western audience has a chance to learn about the facts which because of different reasons are often not covered in their historical books. But even the Central Europeans, whose level of awarenes about the crimes of the Second World War is much higher, can find a lot of shocking details that may change their vision of Hitlerism and Stalinism. Snyder’s book gives a very reliable picture of the era because contrary to other historians he does not limit his interest only to one group of people, but he describes the suffering of all the nations living in that region.
    The last obesrvation has one important consequence. In Bloodlands one can find not only the description of history of different nations, but also the comparison of two most destructive totalitarian regimes, the rule of Hitler and Stalin. As far as I am concerned, Polish people for instance, do not differentiate between these two systems. For my compatritots both of them were equally cruel and destructive Although this assessment is undoubtedly true, such an oversimplification needs clarification. Snyder describes all the disparities including ideological differences and varying methods of terrorising and killing people. It is essential to know and understand them if we wanto to make judgements about history.
    To sum up, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin is a tremendous work which explains in an accessible way the difficult historical issues. This book should be read by both eastern and westerns Europeans, because it will make many problems more clear as well as it will give the overall pricture of the past. Bloodlands is unique in the way the facts were gathered and presented. The focus on the suffering of civilians, broad perspective not limited to one nation only and the style accessible for non-academics make Bloodlands an absolute must-read for all the people who want to be able to partcipite in a discussion about the past and its impact on the current and future relation in CEE countries.

  7. The review of „The Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin”

    Watching the news every evening, we are overwhelmed by information about the innocent victims of absurd totalitarian regimes. Since these tragic stories usually take place in very distant parts of the world, we often adopt eurocentric perspective and associate these nations with civilastional backwardness.Doing so, we tend to forget that it was not so long ago that such horrible tyrans ruled our continent and as a result thousands people lost their lives. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timoty Snyder helps us to realize that especially the history of Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia is by no means less cruel than the history of African or Asian nations.
    What is unique and interesting about Snyder’s book is his usage of various sources. He is also willing to include the research of other historians in his book, which gives readers the broader perspective and helps to understand all the issues better. It is cruicial as the situation of Bloodlands in the period of Stalins’s and Hitler’s rule was complex, indeed. Geographical location between Russia and Germany resembled a trap where it was difficult to expect any liberation as the change could be only from one totalitarian regime to another. The book describes clearly the methods of nazism and communism.
    In my opinion, Bloodlands as well as all the books that deal with the same topic is very important as thanks to it the western audience has a chance to learn about the facts which because of different reasons are often not covered in their historical books. But even the Central Europeans, whose level of awarenes about the crimes of the Second World War is much higher, can find a lot of shocking details that may change their vision of Hitlerism and Stalinism. Snyder’s book gives a very reliable picture of the era because contrary to other historians he does not limit his interest only to one group of people, but he describes the suffering of all the nations living in that region.
    The last obesrvation has one important consequence. In Bloodlands one can find not only the description of history of different nations, but also the comparison of two most destructive totalitarian regimes, the rule of Hitler and Stalin. As far as I am concerned, Polish people for instance, do not differentiate between these two systems. For my compatritots both of them were equally cruel and destructive Although this assessment is undoubtedly true, such an oversimplification needs clarification. Snyder describes all the disparities including ideological differences and varying methods of terrorising and killing people. It is essential to know and understand them if we wanto to make judgements about history.
    To sum up, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin is a tremendous work which explains in an accessible way the difficult historical issues. This book should be read by both eastern and westerns Europeans, because it will make many problems more clear as well as it will give the overall pricture of the past. Bloodlands is unique in the way the facts were gathered and presented. The focus on the suffering of civilians, broad perspective not limited to one nation only and the style accessible for non-academics make Bloodlands an absolute must-read for all the people who want to be able to partcipite in a discussion about the past and its impact on the current and future relation in CEE countries.

  8. „Bloodlands Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder
    Timothy Snyder in his book under the title “Bloodlands. Europe between Hitler
    and Stalin” does not answer the question either, yet gives more light on the life of
    contemporary people, especially civilians, inhabitants of lands which are the main subject of
    the book. Book begins with the description of victims of Stalinis, joint German-Soviet occupation of Poland and the German-Soviet war. The victims were Poles, Jews, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Russians and Balts. Author through writing about specific events, periods and processes from the point of view of the two occupants, the Soviets and the Germans, let us to better grasp the genesis of particular events, in a broader sense.

    One of my positive feedback on the book was that the author, instead of paying attention only to facts, is trying to explain, how did this actually happen? Snyder pays attention to the victims. He also pays attention to numbers as examples of the ways how they suffered. Author destroys some still vivid perceptions of many people about the severity of crimes committed by each of the occupants. For instance, comparing the determination with which both occupants have worked in order to extinguish inhabitants of title bloodlands. I think that in the popular consciousness, especially people in the west, the Germans (or Nazis) seems to be perceived as those who exerted the greatest mark on the post war national structure of these lands. The author yet reveals or perhaps realize that it was quite opposite, due to the fact of compared numbers. He demonstrates black and white the scale of Stalin’s crimes in comparison to Hitler’s was overwhelming. In particular, Stalin’s consistency in the 30’s with which in turns he was getting rid of successive groups of people while fulfilling his strategic objectives, and in the same time being able to justify every wave of murders on the Soviet Union’s nation with an ideology. For me, one of the strongest parts of the book is how the author describes the imagery of the Great Famine of Ukraine. Citing the comments of a few correspondents from the West, he provides an awareness of a terrible
    atmosphere of the time and enables to understand a little better a great loneliness of
    Ukrainians, who then for reasons incomprehensible for themselves were simply sentenced to
    starvation. Snyder with a kind of simplicity leaves no doubt that the title bloodlands stretching
    between Moscow and Berlin were the most experienced by fate or to be more exact,
    contemporary politics practiced by mentioned capitals. You can also say that the author
    confronts the historical facts together with some kind of historical consciousness, prompting
    the reader to review his current perspective on certain issues. There is nothing revolutionary
    about this, yet this is not another predictable history book – we all know the facts type.
    Personally, when reading the book I was amazed of how it was possible that two people, and
    at the same time, could possess minds and will of so many other people leading them to an
    execution of their bloodthirsty politics. The more that as yet this most horrific sequence of
    events happened in the European continent, the cradle of world culture and thought.
    The events that took place in the title bloodlands, especially in the description of Timothy
    Snyder, make me wonder if, apart from the way it has affected the shape of the current
    borders, social relations as well as contemporary politics of states, has genuinely changed us?
    So far, all signs of extreme radicalism is suppressed, which remains to believe and hope that
    this will not change.

  9. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
    by Timothy Snyder
    Book review

    “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder is a very informative book describing mass murders that took place in the XX century in Central and Eastern Europe. However, this book may be read on a deeper, philosophical level and force the reader to rethink everything they know and believe in.

    This book reminds us about a very sad truth about life and mankind that in certain circumstances we are able to do the worst imaginable things.The book that perfectly correlates with Snyder’s book is Golden Harvest by Jan Tomasz Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross. These books make us wonder if all the values and beliefs that we currently have are, and will always be, good. Students that were killing in the name of communism were, as well as we are right now, certain that they were doing good for the mankind.

    Another issue is nationalism. One may think that it is no longer a valid problem and only a limited group of people would be able to die or kill for their country. However, this belief is not true. I was personally able to listen to a talk on radio Maryja where a woman expressed her discontent with nationalism and hatred toward other nations that is characteristic for this radio station. The host – a priest – answered that in a person that is filled with hatred to nationalist beliefs, somewhere this hatred has to go and it will be most probably transformed into a cancer. After this utterance there were a number of calls confirming and supporting this statement – all people that are against nationalism will die of cancer. Moreover, Mr. Kaczyński, who is supported by circa 40% of Poles, openly expresses radical nationalist beliefs.

    I have found confirmation of my statement widely discussed on one of our lectures in almost every word of this book. My statement was that:

    “Eastern Europeans should not only tell people that they are not inferior and give examples of it from the remote past. We should forget about the unimportant things like circumstantial history, differences between cultures and languages and, instead, focus on the common future. Proving that, due to historical reasons, Eastern Europe is equal, superior or inferior will not change anything. We should no longer think why and when it happened but we should simply forget about the differences and focus on building one global culture where science and business may flourish.” (Rychter 2011)

    One global culture would definitely prevent many of those conflicts from occurring. Nations which represent similar cultures are more likely to collaborate and create unions, and less likely to wage wars and commit mass murders. It was easier for the USA to start war with Iran than it would be to start war with the United Kingdom. Snyder also presents how the history was manipulated (with examples being Katyń or common past of Germans) to create conflicts. If common culture was present, the first reaction to proclaiming a war by a dictator, for example in Poland, would be emigration to another country, not military mobilization. This situation was very clearly seen in Kosovo under Milosevic, where nationalism was the key reason for the war and it was explicitly and openly said by the leaders. People are greedy and evil, but there is a perfect place to use this greed and evil to create, paradoxically, good and wealth. It is a capitalist market.

    To conclude, “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder forces the reader to reanalyze the world. This book, if deeply thought-over, may change a person for the better.

  10. The book titled “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” has been written by Slovenian Ambassador in the Netherlands, Marc Leon is a diplomat and writer with passion to politics and history studies. This book describe not only Eastern Europe history, culture and politics framework, but it also include a personal memories to what happened after Berlin Walls fall, twenty years ago.The book “What’s So Eastern About Eastern Europe?” by Leon Marc was first published in 2010, six years after the Easter European countries succession in EU.is a personal account of the political, economic and social story of Central and Eastern Europe, it addresses the stereotypes about the region.Cultural and economical backwardness that is clearly seen from the 16th century is clearly a sufficient reason to distinguish two parts of Europe, Eastern and Western. There is a number of different characteristics of Eastern Europe in the 16th century that support this statement. Marc forgets that in the 18th century in the minds of people it was not a different continent with a different culture that was created, but only a separate part of Europe, economically, culturally and politically less developed than Western Europe.Leon Marc describes the culture of the Eastern Europe with many compelling facts. I had a chance to find out about issues that surprised me in a very positive way, such us his opinion on the role of communism. He challenges the current conviction that the regime is to be blamed for the majority of differences that prevail between two discussed regions. Indeed, he says, the differences regarding the development and the quality of life are true: it used to be relatively easier for Westerners who enjoyed a comfortable life, with an access to all the goods; however, those concerning our mentality and culture are much less significant than one could think.It can be easily understood that Leon Marc’s experience and progressive way of thinking helped him write a book that is an excellent tool to help everyone who is interested in Europe’s history culture and economy, understand the values and situation of this region.trying to show that they have been quite similar sometimes and thus the alleged „natural” backwardness is not a fact. Marc also quickly introduces the idea of future enlargement of European Union, possibly to the Balkans and even more eastwards; this is the sign of a successful 2004 enlargement, as there is a possibility to move on, but he also asks if Europe always has to have an East, which is a question worth thinking about.The author being the witness of those changes claims that they should determine the unity of Europe, despite the geographic location.
    Another argument of Leon Marc is the membership in the European Union, which again should help to treat EU countries as a whole. He points out that in order to get from Vienna to Prague, one has to travel west. And Czech Republic is still considered eastern Europe, whereas Austria is among the western countries.The only thing I was missing while reading the book was the lack of information about nowadays and the contemporary issues between Eastern and Western Europe. It is true that the last chapter was treating about contemporary issues but in my opinion it was not enough. I think that young people, even though they should know history, are more interested in what is happening at the current moment.Overall the book made good impression on me and hope it will do the same on the people who think through the stereotypes of Eastern Europeans!

  11. The book “What’s So Eastern About Eastern Europe?” by Leon Marc was first published in 2010, six years after the Easter European countries succession in EU.is a personal account of the political, economic and social story of Central and Eastern Europe, it addresses the stereotypes about the region.Cultural and economical backwardness that is clearly seen from the 16th century is clearly a sufficient reason to distinguish two parts of Europe, Eastern and Western. There is a number of different characteristics of Eastern Europe in the 16th century that support this statement. Marc forgets that in the 18th century in the minds of people it was not a different continent with a different culture that was created, but only a separate part of Europe, economically, culturally and politically less developed than Western Europe.Leon Marc describes the culture of the Eastern Europe with many compelling facts. I had a chance to find out about issues that surprised me in a very positive way, such us his opinion on the role of communism. He challenges the current conviction that the regime is to be blamed for the majority of differences that prevail between two discussed regions. Indeed, he says, the differences regarding the development and the quality of life are true: it used to be relatively easier for Westerners who enjoyed a comfortable life, with an access to all the goods; however, those concerning our mentality and culture are much less significant than one could think.It can be easily understood that Leon Marc’s experience and progressive way of thinking helped him write a book that is an excellent tool to help everyone who is interested in Europe’s history culture and economy, understand the values and situation of this region.trying to show that they have been quite similar sometimes and thus the alleged „natural” backwardness is not a fact. Marc also quickly introduces the idea of future enlargement of European Union, possibly to the Balkans and even more eastwards; this is the sign of a successful 2004 enlargement, as there is a possibility to move on, but he also asks if Europe always has to have an East, which is a question worth thinking about.The author being the witness of those changes claims that they should determine the unity of Europe, despite the geographic location.
    Another argument of Leon Marc is the membership in the European Union, which again should help to treat EU countries as a whole. He points out that in order to get from Vienna to Prague, one has to travel west. And Czech Republic is still considered eastern Europe, whereas Austria is among the western countries.The only thing I was missing while reading the book was the lack of information about nowadays and the contemporary issues between Eastern and Western Europe. It is true that the last chapter was treating about contemporary issues but in my opinion it was not enough. I think that young people, even though they should know history, are more interested in what is happening at the current moment.Overall the book made good impression on me and hope it will do the same on the people who think through the stereotypes of Eastern Europeans!
    Odpowi

  12. The book “What’s So Eastern About Eastern Europe?” by Leon Marc was first published in 2010, six years after the Easter European countries succession in EU. In the book author tries to give brief history of Eastern European countries (and not only), he as well gives deep understanding of differences among those countries.
    According to the book general perception of Eastern Europeans by the world is somewhat to be less “European” compared to the western or the ‘real’ one. Additionally there is a misleading interpretation of ‘homogenous’ ‘slavs’ living in this region. In his work Leon Marc judges those and other similar stereotypes that are held towards Central and Eastern Europeans.
    What I found most interesting is that book delivers a broad perspective about the cultural, political, economic, and social aspects in CE countries. Examining the history from medieval times develops quite a broad picture for a person who knows little about Eastern Europe. Likewise the Easy language and ‘user-friendly’ tone makes it easier to understand the whole content and make reading more pleasant compared to other historical books, where you feel ashamed from time to time when you don’t know some “obvious” facts from history. Thanks to those features the book is very tasty and I could read it with one singe breath. In almost everything that the author says I agree to a big extent and for me, a person who as well was brought up in post-communist country, everything is understandable and “feelable”.
    But there is still one thing that I would like to mention as a little drawback of the book. Though little bit but still, in-between the lines, I could feel the rigor and kind of “ambitious” tone of the writer about the fact that, roughly saying, Eastern Europeans are equally “Europeans” like western ones. I can understand that since the author is Slovenian it is natural to feel that tone in the book. But personally I think that the book would have dipper impact on me if it had more “objective” tone implicitly. It is more convincing when a person has more “down to earth” approach, though information in the book was down to earth if I had known nothing before about the region I wouldn’t be that much convinced. Even when it concerns to my own country I feel obsessed when a book is written from “subjective” point of view. I realize that in history it is somewhat difficult not to cross the line of “subjective” and “objective” lenses, but exactly since it concerns to such a sensitive topic an author should try even more to be very conscious and prudent.
    Overall the book made good impression on me and hope it will do the same on the people who think through the stereotypes of Eastern Europeans!

  13. Course: Contemporary Issues in Central and Eastern Europe
    What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe?- Book Review

    During his four year long stay in Ireland, even before large numbers of Eastern Europeans reached Irish shores, Leon Marc was aware of the fact that the lack of understanding of Eastern Europe and Eastern Europeans was becoming an issue. In “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” he explains how this lack of understanding, which has been shaping over years, has given rise to the common perception of Eastern Europeans, unfortunately being often based on stereotypes and prejudice.
    One may not question that Eastern Europeans represent the most numerous, the most recent and possibly the most difficult challenge. Unfortunately, there is still a common perception that Eastern Europeans migrating to Western Europe represent entirely different, even inferior, culture even though there should be no wonder that immigrants of all nationalities have always been a very diverse group, ranging from the brightest and the most able to the poorest and least skilled.
    I believe that there is much truth in what Leon Marc states about Western nations generalizing Eastern Europeans, but, unfortunately, while stereotypes are easy to form they are hard to be erased, and the history somehow helped the stereotypes to arise.
    Eastern Europe was created as a cultural concept in the eighteenth century, however, even at that stage this concept was mostly applied to lands under Ottoman rule and only to some extent to those under Russian influence. The concept was never meant to describe the German-influenced Central Europe. In fact, it was at the time of the formation of the Berlin Wall that the concept of the Eastern Europe emerged. Moreover, whereas the Western countries in their history experienced Fascism or Nazism, most Eastern European countries experienced both together with Communism, the latter being the longest lasting and “most all-embracing”. It affected the foundations of the economic system in a way that the others did not. This is why it was so devastating and to me this is what to the highest extent contributed to the current perception of Eastern Europeans, largely affecting the way the two parts of the Europe were allowed to develop.
    In 1945 large number of people were forced by Communism to seek shelter in Western Europe. As author says, at this point of time they did not realize they were leaving ‘Eastern Europe’. That means that the perception of Eastern Europeans has started shaping from that point in time and from then on that perception has undergone a dramatic change.
    I agree with the author that for now Eastern European countries are still not perceived as normal Europeans even though, in reality, Eastern Europe should be seen as a vast new market for consumer goods from the EU-10 countries, a source of relatively cheap and well-trained labor as well as a valuable destination for foreign investments. But for some reason Eastern Europeans are still not yet perceived as normal Europeans.
    Nevertheless much needs to be changed in the perception of the Eastern European countries these days. I do not agree with Leon Marc that the only way to achieve this is to encourage young people to visit Eastern Europe as this solely will not solve the problem but hopefully someday people will naturally “refer to such nations as Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Czechs, Estonians, Slovenes and Hungarians individually, rediscovering the forgotten family of Europe instead of treating those nations as ‘others’ or as one indistinguishable tribe”.

  14. Contemporary issues in CEE
    A book review: “What’s so eastern about Eastern Europe?: Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall”
    Ruut Vedenpää 52490

    This book seems to have been written intentionally at a time when Europe looks like it has reunited, calmed down and established its position as a global player; it is time to take a look at how is Europe really like nowadays – is it just France, Germany, the south, a bunch of Nordic countries and an unknown, uniform part called Eastern Europe, or is there something we could know about the latter in order to understand it better.
    The author wants to increase the understanding of Eastern Europe by telling the story of this part of the continent. By means of historical facts and a couple of true stories, the reader will understand how the path to today’s Europe has been, and does not just rely on stereotypes that he/she hears. Leon Marc refers to Eastern Europe as commonly stereotyped as a “living folk museum” or “a socially backward, conservative and intolerant place”, and that is exactly what he wants to change; it is the main message of the book. He wants to change attitudes so that it would be more widely understood that Eastern Europe is not “lesser” Europe but just as good as Western Europe, even though after the World War 2 the communist times prevented (or slowed down) certain developments necessary to grow as fast and to be as innovative as some Western European countries.
    The book is targeted to anyone, who is interested in why Eastern Europe (or, say, the geographical area defined as Eastern Europe in the book) is today like it is, and also wants to find out about the more general history of Europe, and how the both “sides” of Europe used to be similar hundreds of years ago, and how we’re aiming at it again. The author is a Slovenian diplomat, who attempts, through factual information, opinions, true stories and a hint of European idealism, to teach us to understand Eastern Europe and its people by emphasizing the cultural and ethnical variety of the area, away from thinking that Eastern Europe is just a big bunch of similar countries and peoples. The book is written in a non-academic, easily readable informal way, clearly not to give a mere lecture but to make the reader think and even to criticize and question.
    Despite the reader-friendly history lectures and stories about author’s family that give us enough to get a bigger picture of the things worth knowing, the author unfortunately succumbs to repeat the message a bit too often. Yes, nowadays the message of the competitiveness of Eastern Europe cannot be denied, but repeated too many times, one might start to think if it really is so, or if Eastern Europeans are still suffering from low self-confidence, which he himself claims to be a feature of the area due to the communist times.
    One can learn a lot and widen his/her perspective and knowledge of history while reading the book, but Marc seems to have a need to repeat certain things, until the reader is slightly irritated. He has named the chapters respectively with their intended contents, but in some cases he uses too many pages to emphasize and re-emphasize his message, by e.g. listing the GDP’s of various European countries, trying to show that they have been quite similar sometimes and thus the alleged „natural” backwardness is not a fact. Marc also quickly introduces the idea of future enlargement of European Union, possibly to the Balkans and even more eastwards; this is the sign of a successful 2004 enlargement, as there is a possibility to move on, but he also asks if Europe always has to have an East, which is a question worth thinking about.
    To sum up, Eastern Europe has managed to transform itself into a competitive area, and the communist past does not automatically mean backwardness and hostile environment. Still, the stereotypes are alive and well, and it will take a generation or two to slowly bear in mind the abovementioned progress. Just as long as we do not pay attention to the slightly repetitive nature of the text, this book can be a good start for changing the stereotypes.

  15. „What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe”

    In my opinion, The book „What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” by Leon Marc is about stereotypes of each nation in Eastern Europe. According to Leon, there is 12 countries, which overall states for Eastern Europe and each is different. Has different culture, language and habits, what’s more interesting, many Western European countries think differently. Book is perfect source of practical knowledge, since the author is Slovenian and knows many issues of mentality of nations. Furthermore, he has been in majority of those countries, since he knows many places with the details. Moreover, economic, social and cultural factors are strongly outline by author; he states that historic background is extremely important to understand all the changes, which occur in this part of Europe. He gives milestones in history of Eastern Europe, mainly like occupation of Russians, World wars or communist regime in XX century. Those milestones have really had influenced on people and are crucial to discover mentality of nations of this part of the world.
    Leon Marc in his book is trying to explain, that Eastern and Western Europe have the same roots in European history and share the same culture and social norms. Nevertheless, It is clear that since 1500, Western Europe started to develop rapidly, but till this date both parts of Europe were at the same level of development. Regardless, the same culture and similar social norms, recently Western Europe treated Eastern as a bit underdeveloped and backward. But, right now, author really appreciated last moves towards West, like joining NATO or European Union or even adopting Euro currency, which is the last step of integration. Leon Marc is trying to show, that differences between the West and East are not so big, like it was in the past. Eastern countries are catching up those from West. Currently, even Stereotypes are diminishing in Europe. Many of those have the roots in communism regime in Central Europe, which had amazing influence of people mentality, but now, majority of those are not true anymore. Despite, that fact, many people in the West still think that East Europeans are underdeveloped, they are guided by old, not valid anymore stereotypes.
    As it was said before, author is a native of Eastern Europe, so he knows best culture and habits. He gives very good characteristics of places, people and given situations, as he was there. Some stories, told by Leon Marc are full of proud and happiness of his state, how it developed and what is current place of Slovenia in Europe. He states, that people from West Europe should put more attention to fully understand recent issues , which happened next to them.
    Leon Marc, in his book “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” gives perfect overview of Central Eastern Europe and its countries. I would strongly recommend that book to both Eastern and Western European reader for better understanding the past events and cultural differences between the nations. Book, perfectly shows past stereotypes, stuck to each nation in Eastern Europe, mainly not valid anymore, but still existing in Western nations mind. Moreover, in some points this book presents limited perception of Western nations concerning CEE region and its people. Leon Marc shows the ways to better understand the real source of problem, that Eastern Europe is diversify; each country has its own language, culture and habits; it is not the whole region itself. This book, can be basic source of knowledge of CEE region and its links to West Europe.

  16. Leon Marc
    is a Slovenian diplomat who served at the Dublin embassy from 2002 to 2006. He is currently director of the South-East Europe Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia.

    In contemporary Western Europe there is a high demand for education regarding Eastern Europe. Large quantities of information has to be provided in order to change the view about this part of the continent. Due to that fact Leon Marc has written book What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe?
    By adopting an original formula, which enhance pleasure of reading the book, author describes life in communist block.
    The book aims to bring about the big picture of Eastern Europe – its political, economic, social and cultural history – while putting the fall of the Berlin Wall and the EU enlargement into a broader perspective of general European history. It addresses the stereotypes about the region and their roots and explains why the notion of Eastern Europe is now obsolete and misleading.
    In my opinion main the concept of the book was sort of an excuse of Eastern Europe towards Western Europe. Author many times tries to show that there were no differences between these two parts of Europe until the communist times and the Cold War. Leon Marc describes many countries of the Eastern block from political, economic and social situation which at that time had place in those countries. It shows problems of the transition from the centrally planned economy to capitalism. Author touches the topic of stereotypes sometimes trying to justify them or totally disagreeing.
    This book can be considered as a threshold for the future European integration, because it not only shows he great things about Eastern Europe but also it’s lacks such as social capital or adopting to changes.
    Book is well written and it would be comprehensible even for people who are not familiar with academic materials. I would personally recommend it to everyone who considers himself or herself a true European, because the grater would be our knowledge about ourselves than the grater would be integration among the nations i our region. Even though i disagree with many statements presented in the book I have found it interesting and highly valuable.

  17. Leon Marc in his book: What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe? Just as the title suggests through various examples describes how at the time when the book was written, even after 5 years some of the so called countries of Eastern Europe joined the European Union, there is still an particular optic on Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Going through the history of the whole Europe emphasizing the Byzantine and Ottoman influence on the region and the importance of Eastern Europe on this particular influences; passing by the evolution of Christianity in the whole Europe.
    The aim of Marc’s book is to treat Europe as a whole, understanding that even if each nation has a particular history the history of Europe is one, with their differences among countries no matter the location of them.
    The book illustrates that through the history of Europe up to day there are stereotypes alive of Eastern European from the Western European point of view. As a result of this even if some Eastern Europe countries have joined the European Union nowadays more than 5 years ago, had restrictions that the founder members do not have for example in the free movement of labor, except for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Western countries were afraid that they would get flooded with Eastern Europeans if they decided to open the labor without working permit for the new members.
    If it is true that the migrants can be weather skillful ones that can bring profit for the economies, it’s also true that migrants can me criminals or unskilled labor, however this is not exclusive of Eastern Europe migrants. Migrants from all the nations worldwide can have the same characteristics.
    One of the most emphatic topics of Marc is how the communist helped to reaffirm the difference between the east and the west of Europe. Due to communist there was a gap not only in economic growth but in economic culture between the east and the west, for instances within a same nation (Germany) within a same city Berlin there is still the east side and the west side and the stereotype than the east is worse than the west of the same city.
    The book also refers as one of the common stereotype from western Europeans towards Slavic languages and mentions their complexity and how to the eyes of the western they are all the same. I would like to add just like the author a personal experience in reference to this particular issue. I have a Polish friend that was working 2 years ago in a pub in the UK, the owner of the pub told my friend that there was another pole working in the same pub, but he was on holidays at the time my friend started to work and that he will be back within 2 weeks. 2 weeks after that the so called pole was back at the pub and my friend welcomed him with a “cześć” and he was rather surprised when the guy made a face of what are you trying to say to me? Anyway it turned out that the so called pole was in fact Bulgarian. This illustrates how to the eyes of the western Europeans everybody that comes from further than Germany is pretty much the same that is not even worth paying attention to which country you come from or what language do you speak.
    Leon’s book is some sort of handbook for western Europeans, for them to understand how similar they are with eastern Europeans and how they share history and traditions despise of the beliefs that they are very different from each other. Also the book’s goal is to Europe to understand this and start acting as a whole in order to bring prosperity to Europe as a whole unit.
    It would be really interesting if the author reedited the book adding a chapter of contemporary European history showing how just during crisis time that reigns nowadays some of the “less economically developed” members of the EU have faced the crisis in a better way that some of the western countries for instances Poland.

  18. What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe
    Agnieszka Kamińska
    Book review

    The book written by Leon Marc, writer with significant interest in history and major experience in Foreign Service, presents an extensive knowledge about social, economic, political and cultural aspects of Eastern Europe. Marc emphasizes how Eastern Europe enriched not only our history but also science and other dimensions of life. He points out that concept of Eastern Europe is misleading and perceived negatively by our Western counterparts. Marc argues that even tough since the end of Cold War and fall of Berlin Wall have passed more than twenty years, which allowed Eastern countries to develop their economies through European Union, there is still an ignorance towards Eastern Europe, perceived only as a former Soviet communist countries. This is well presented by his statement “Eastern European never stopped thinking of themselves as Europeans and did not start thinking of themselves as Eastern Europeans until the Western Europeans told them that that what they were” Moreover, he manifests his dissatisfaction from the fact that Western Europe does not know history of their neighbors well and encourages them to change it“ There are so many reasons we should get to know our Eastern neighbors’ better. Without an exception all the new member states can boost beautiful cities full of Gothic, Renaissance and Rocco buildings and monuments……More face-to face contacts between the peoples of the West and those of the East must be encouraged”.

    The book is very well structured and it’s written in the chronological order which helps the reader to follow the author and understand the history from Middle Ages until present times. It starts with the story of three classmates and presents different paths they all took in their lives. I believe this was an inspiration for the author of this book; to show how difficult life was during Cold War and communism. Additionally, the language used is clear and not overly academic which makes the reading very enjoyable.

    I personally recommend this book for anybody who wants to get to know the roots, stereotypes and issues of Eastern Europe, as in my opinion, it provides excellent description of how it is perceived nowadays. It not only does great job in explaining history of that region but also gives at the end some things to consider about future. I find this book to be very personal as it actually written by person who experienced the changes that brought the Wall down. The book was published in 2009 which makes the timing perfect as we celebrated the twenty years after the fall of Berlin Wall. That should let us realize that Europe is now just one continent which shares similar commitments and beliefs for the common wealth of all the countries and should not be labeled as Eastern or Western from the political point of view.

  19. The book I have read recently was “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” written by Leon Marc. Before reading the book I was a bit sceptical about it. I expected it to be one of those serious historical books. The greater was my astonishment when I begun to read it. The author provides us with a study of a European history to let the reader understand why there are still so many differences among countries on our continent
    In the book we can find a deep analysis of Eastern Europ and its situation among years. Reading the book I could easily feel that Leon Marc was born and raised in of the Eastern European countries, he deeply describes the suffering of those countries during First and Second World War I belief that a person from USA or even someone from Western Europe would not be able to tell the story in this particular way and it is not a matter of lack of knowledge it is just about the place and the people where a man was born and raised. Another fact confirming his origin was quite a big number of stories about his relatives or friends. To support his arguments and not be groundless he cites statistical and economical data. All that makes an image of a person who fells what he writes about.
    The only thing I was missing while reading the book was the lack of information about nowadays and the contemporary issues between Eastern and Western Europe. It is true that the last chapter was treating about contemporary issues but in my opinion it was not enough. I think that young people, even though they should know history, are more interested in what is happening at the current moment. I also can not agree with a few other statements in the book but I also know that it can be a matter of taste. Nevertheless I will recommend this book to some of my friends especially from Western European countries because in my opinion it will help them understand current differences between our countries not only economical but also cultural.
    To sum up the book written by Leon Marc “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” is a great source of information written in a very readers friendly form. We can read that book with no historical information background and no fear about lack of it. The reason why I would strongly recommend this book to everyone is the process of integration of European countries which we could have witnesed for the last few decades. The information provided by the book will surely help Europeans understand each other better and will make our life more easier.

  20. Marc Leonard in his book “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” struggles with Western European stereotypes about Eastern Europe. He argues that on the one hand Western Europe perceives the whole East as one, meaning that for them there is no bigger difference between a Poles and Russians. The truth is that one cannot put those two or any others to the same ‘basket’. Dwelling upon this argument he takes us throughout history, showing the differences and discrepancies among the Eastern states, on the other hand, simultaneously showing their similarity to the West.
    The firm opposition to the artificial border, drawn by Stalin which had a purpose to exclude the Soviet sphere of influence from the West. However, one doesn’t have to be the specialist that for example Czechs are far more similar in their general attitude and mindset to Germany than to their ‘Slavic’ Polish brothers. The Iron Curtain could not kill the common history which build Europe and lead Europeans to what we have today on form of the European Union. Leonard lucidly explains the historical factor which played crucial role on the continent not forgetting about economical and cultural aspects, especially of it comes to Christianity. Despite the economic lag of the ‘East’ starting from the renaissance and disparity which it has created, thanks to EU ‘Eastern Europe’ is catching up, so one day it can enjoy the wealth of the ‘Western States’.
    Personal experience and emphasis on Slovenia (native country of the author) may be perceived as ‘sappy’, but to some it may be a perfect avenue to see the ‘East’ from the perspective of the ‘Eastern European’ putting a critical analysis of the divisions in Europe increasing the reliability of the book. However, in such perceptions as from someone ‘form the inside’ people can find prejudice and mostly glorifications of the Eastern success.
    Despite that, the book really sketches the mindset of those who had fallen on the other side of the Iron Curtain, supporting the “United in Diversity” thesis. This book may be a gateway for ‘Western Europe’ to understand ‘East’ much more and fade this artificial border drawn by Stalin, and make the Berlin Wall really fall, not only physically or economically, but also in peoples minds and attitudes towards each other. Marc Leonard’s book serves this purpose, that is why it should be recommended to those who still draw solid lines dividing Europe. It is written in lucid and clear way, proving that history matters and if people want to understand the present they should first focus on the past. Going to the past helps to understand culture and mindsets of people, which may be helpful conducting business, not only in ‘Eastern Europe’ but anywhere in the world.

  21. “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” – book review

    Leon Marc, the author of the book “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” is a diplomat and writer, with a deep interest in history. Currently the Slovenian Ambassador to The Netherlands. He studied Public Policy and Management in the UK and was involved in the student movement in his native country at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He witnessed his country joining the European Union in 2004 as a diplomat in Dublin and later dealt with the Western Balkans file.
    The book was written five years after 10 countries from Central and Eastern europe joined the European Union and 20 years after the Berlin Wall was torn down and describes why “Eastern Europe” is not only a geographical term. The author, through his book tries to introduce the readers to Eastern europe, it’s political, social, cultural and economic history and explains the changes that were made during the political and economic transition. His two main concerns are, the differences between Western and Eastern Europe and the changes that have to be made in order eliminate those differences.
    The author believes that he can influence and change the negative opinion that people have about Eastern Europe by going deep into the history of that area. He describes why and how the political, economic and social system of Eastern Europe was directly influenced by communism, religion, cold war and world war I and II. He also explains the separation process between Eastern and Western Europe because of the above facts which in his opinion is the reason of backwardness of Eastern Europe. He also claims that the common history of the two areas is a reason of todays separation.
    In order to understand the book better, one must take under consideration the biography and the background of the author. He studied public policy and management and he was involved in the student movement in his country Slovenia. It can be easily understood that Leon Marc’s experience and progressive way of thinking helped him write a book that is an excellent tool to help everyone who is interested in Europe’s history culture and economy, understand the values and situation of this region.

  22. The book is a quasi-guide for Western Europeans about Eastern Europe. The author Leon Marc poses questions about Eastern Europe. The first is “How is Eastern Europe different from Western Europe?” The second is what needs to change in Eastern Europe so that it becomes more like the Western part of the continent. The book also addresses the stereotypes about the region. The main proposition of the book states that stereotypes about Eastern Europe are still very much alive in the Western part of the continent. Despite many Eastern European countries having joined the European Union, there still seems to be a visible division between East and West. Marc wants to eliminate the negative predispositions that trouble Eastern Europe through various explanations and examples. As depicted by the author, the societies of Eastern Europe are still regarded as second-class citizens and this clearly bothers him.
    Leon Marc provides a historical analysis of the European continent, especially emphasizing the evolution of Christianity. The author describes how the value of religion in Europe has been very powerful throughout history, especially in Eastern Europe. The Germanic, Byzantine and Ottoman influences on the region are also examined. The backwardness that was noticeably seen from the 16th century is obviously an adequate reason to differentiate both parts of Europe. There are many features of Eastern Europe in the 16th century that uphold this statement. This Eastern part was economically and politically not as developed as the West. On the other hand, Marc states that Western and Eastern Europe have shared a common history and today they share so many values that they must be considered two parts of one. It can be argued that it is exactly this very common history, irrespective of its final consequences and divisions that involuntarily unifies Europe and overcomes the divisions. Leon Marc argues that Eastern Europe began to distinctly separate from Western Europe when Communism started and especially during the Cold War. This separation resulted in differences in economic development between Western and Eastern Europe but that the differences in mentality and culture are much less significant. It is possible to eliminate this division through European integration. It can be said the transition process that took place in Eastern Europe when communism ended is one of the factors that has united Europe since the West encouraged and helped in the transition process and is still helping the poorer eastern portion today.
    Marc also writes a lot about his home country of Slovenia. He is clearly very pleased with the progress that Slovenia has made recently. Slovenia’s transition from a centrally planned economy to becoming the wealthiest post-communist nation has been astonishing. Slovenia has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and a member of the Eurozone since 2007. Slovenia’s integration into the EU has basically made the nation go from East to West in about 20 years.
    To conclude, this book makes a point that there is a clear difference between Eastern and Western Europe, but that these differences are not as evident as many Western Europeans think they are. Some Eastern European countries such as Poland went through the financial crisis with much less negative consequences than all of Western Europe. Slovenia and the Czech Republic today have higher living standards than Portugal. The Baltic States have shown that quick austerity in a time of crisis will put a country back to economic growth. Estonia—at least in outsiders’ eyes—is one of the least corrupt countries in Europe, easily beating founder members of the EU such as Italy. So maybe we have come to a point where it is the Western part of the continent that can learn something from the East?

  23. Leon Marc, in his 2009 publication ‘What’s so eastern about Eastern Europe’ gives the reader the big picture of Eastern Europe – its political, economic, social and cultural history, the nature of changes there and of the issues at stake in the political and economic transition – while putting the fall of the Berlin Wall and the EU enlargement into a broader perspective of general European history. Three key strands of Eastern Europe – Central Europe, Eastern Europe proper and Southeast Europe – are identified and the Germanic, Byzantine and Ottoman influences on the region are examined.
    The author seems not to appreciate the clear, current division into Western and Eastern Europe. For the deeper understanding of his opinions, it is crucial to mention his biography, which to huge extent explains his position.
    Leon Marc is a diplomat and writer, with a deep interest in history. Currently the Slovenian Ambassador to the Netherlands. He studied Public Policy and Management in the UK and was involved in the student movement in his native country (Slovenia) at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He witnessed his country joining the European Union in 2004 as a diplomat in Dublin and later dealt with the Western Balkans file.
    From the above brief biography, one can understand that Leon Marc is a person who thinks forward and prefers to fight with divisions and barriers rather than creating them. This opinion is illustrated throughout the whole book. He blames the communism for the backwardness of the eastern countries in Europe and he wishes the moment of fall of the Berlin Wall should associate with diminishing boarder between West and East of Europe.
    It is true that countries such as Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary or Slovenia experienced big economic and political changes during the last two decades. The author being the witness of those changes claims that they should determine the unity of Europe, despite the geographic location.
    Another argument of Leon Marc is the membership in the European Union, which again should help to treat EU countries as a whole. He points out that in order to get from Vienna to Prague, one has to travel west. And Czech Republic is still considered eastern Europe, whereas Austria is among the western countries.
    Possibly, the author doesn’t agree with the clear division because West associates with wealth and East with poverty and continuous desire to catch up the western countries. He would prefer to be considered as one – United States of Europe, which deals with its economic problems here and there.
    Even the cultural or religious differences cannot draw a strict division line between the countries as the differences are more in traditions and habits rather than way of thinking and perception.
    “What’s So Eastern About Eastern Europe?” is written in an accessible, non-academic way, addressing the stereotypes about the region and their roots and explaining why the notion of Eastern Europe is now obsolete and misleading. It gives an Eastern European’s perspective, and is informed by the author’s own personal experience of the changes that brought the Wall down.

  24. Marc Leonard „What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” – review

    Marc Leonard, the author of “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” is a diplomat and writer, with a deep interest in history (provided by the author). He witnessed the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the process of joining countries to European Union. This experience allowed him to write a book about these times, that was published in 20th anniversary of Berlin Wall fall and 5 years from the Eastern expansion of the EU.
    The book written by Marc Leonard is a perfect position for a reader that would like to grasp the idea about the historical background, changes that took place and the situation that was present before, during and after The Fall of Berlin Wall and during creation of EU. Not only because of pure analytical facts about the history but also thanks to the personal opinions, stories and memories written by Marc this book also allows the reader to better understand the difference between Western and Eastern part of Europe.
    This book shows the problem of not understanding the situation present in Eastern part of Europe by the citizens of its Western part. They usually not fully understand how it changed during last years. As he presents in the book it is true that Western countries were becoming much richer and developed in comparison to their Eastern neighbors. On the other hand it is visible that thanks to the fact that Eastern Countries joined European Union they have the possibility to follow and try to get closer to their Western friends. But we were not always friends. There were times of War. On the other hand, what is shown in the book, there is the case of religion. The Christianity was also kind of common think that possibly helped us to find consensus. Next matter are languages. Marc considers why Poles did not want to speak Russian. For us, as Poles, it is obvious. It may seem for Western citizens that all Slavic languages are similar but apparently they are not the same. Moreover because of different history and background these countries are different and their mentality differs from each other. Marc also touches the issue of stereotypes in Eastern Europe. He indicates that there are always exceptions to the stereotypes and he tries to break down the stereotypes. This may influence the good impression of new countries from the East accessing the European Union. Marc also tries to show the important role that is played by the Eastern countries. Also in the history Eastern countries played significant role. Now economies like Poland tend to play more and more important role in Europe. It is difficult to compare it to economies like German but maybe in the future we will be able to increase our importance.
    This book gives very good picture of Western and Eastern Europe, European history and culture, but also economy. All this is supported by personal experiences and memories. We should rather concentrate on our mutual future, think how we may develop our countries and lead to much better situation, even among purer countries. This is most important, in particular in times of crisis. Thanks to the creation of European Union we have a very good tool to perform such changes and improvements. As this book is very easy to read and is written in accessible language it is very advisable to read for all people that would like to better understand the situation and history of the division for Western and Easter Europe and to understand what’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe.

  25. “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” – book review

    “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” by Leon Marc is a comprehensive study of a European history written in an interesting and simple way, therefore accessible to readers with very little historical preparation. It is a broad and encompassing lesson about the origins of the so called “Eastern Europe” dating as far back as the Antiquity.
    The book revolves around the author’s personal belief that the attitude of Western European countries towards their Eastern counterparts should be changed and the divisions should be less and less visible.
    The author, who was born in Slovenia, seems to be very passionate about changing the way that others perceive Eastern Europe. He wants to eradicate the negative prejudices that haunt this region of the world by showing numerous explanations. As far as he is concerned, the societies of Eastern Europe are still regarded as lower-class citizens, hence having fewer opportunities of development and success. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communist era, more than 20 years ago, such distinctions should be no longer in use. We are all the members of the same European Union, with equal rights and obligations. He points out to the communist regime and the significant role of the church as the factors that distinguish the most Eastern from Western Europe.
    Leon Marc describes the culture of the Eastern Europe with many compelling facts. I had a chance to find out about issues that surprised me in a very positive way, such us his opinion on the role of communism. He challenges the current conviction that the regime is to be blamed for the majority of differences that prevail between two discussed regions. Indeed, he says, the differences regarding the development and the quality of life are true: it used to be relatively easier for Westerners who enjoyed a comfortable life, with an access to all the goods; however, those concerning our mentality and culture are much less significant than one could think.
    The book “What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe” could also serve as an instructive source for the Western Europe’s citizens, exposing their stereotypes and showing how out of date such prejudices really are. An example given about the Eastern European manufacturer who doesn’t mention the origin of his products that are widely successful in Western Europe, because of a worry that such information would make sales significantly drop, shows how much more difficult it is for Easterners, only because of the lingering intolerance.
    Despite being an interesting lecture, the author makes a couple of alarming mistakes. He confuses the name of the current pope (Benedict “XIVth”) and states that in 2004 the European Union was joined by 8 new countries (instead of 10). Such details undermine the trust in Leon Marc’s professional assessment.
    Nevertheless, I am glad that such a book was written. It is needed and may turn out to be the first step towards changing the reality, in which we all live. Taking into account the author’s dedication to his beliefs, he may actually succeed in creating better opportunities for countless numbers of people – building solidarity and unity in one Europe – without distinctions.

  26. The author challenges the reader with two problems: to what extent is Eastern Europe different from the Western part of the continent and how much would the East need to change, in order to become similar to its western counterpart. Moreover, he allows a possibility that those East-West differences may also stem from a lack of understanding of the ‘right-hand side’ of the European map by the ‘left-hand side’s’ societies. Not less important, to the author, are the recent changes in Eastern Europe’s history. Nonetheless, this book presents a subjective interpretation of the position of Eastern Europe at the continent. The reader cannot escape the impression that Marc is particularly emotional about including Slovenia and even Yugoslavia into Eastern Europe – while technically those countries already account for the southern part of the continent. It seems as if the foundation of Marc’s thesis was a lack of clarity in the names of the particular European regions. However, one has to remember that Yugoslavia and Slovenia are actually Balkan states – a region which shall always be analyzed separately from the rest of Europe (due to its history full of ethnic and cultural clashes). Nonetheless, one can agree that the Christian religion (regardless of its ‘version’) is a common focal point for most of the Eastern European states, as well as a ground for a better mutual understanding and respect between the East and West of Europe. Different ‘versions’ of Christianity are definitely closer to each other, than to Islam for that matter. The author’s argument that the common history of the whole European continent is the crucial reason for its division into East and West can and should be analyzed in the opposite way. One can argue that it is exactly this very common history (regardless of its eventual outcomes and divisions that unquestionably took place) that unconsciously unties the whole continent and overcomes the East-West-South-North divisions. Does it really matter today who was fighting who (and with what particular outcome) in the 15th century? Or is more important the sheer fact that even back then we did have common (even coercive) interests on that continent? Fighting or not, doing nasty things or not brought Europe to the point where it is today and was influenced by actions of all the nations of that continent. Everyone played a different role, with a different outcome for them, but all of them worked for the present-day strong position. Even the World War II was a uniting experience that taught every European nation a painful and tragic lesson – which echoes until today in the common work for the better future of the whole continent. That can be seen as a ground for a pan-European integration – which is, in fact, taking place. Marc makes a good point stating that the Iron Curtain and the Cold War produced only quantitative differences in the economic development between the West and East of Europe – something that cannot be denied, but it is possible to eradicate through a thorough European integration. However, even back then the mentality of people, their values, their cultures, and even religion were very similar on the both sides – if not the same. Following that logic one can say that the transition process (although it took place in the East) has become another uniting factor for Europe as a whole – as it was also the West that encouraged and helped the East to conduct the transitive reforms, which came down to accepting most of Eastern Europe to the EU.

  27. Despite more than twenty years that have passed since the end of communism, Western Europeans still tend to associate Eastern Europe with austerity and cultural backwardness. In order to change this situation I highly recommend to read What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe?. It is a book published by Marc Leonard, a native Slovenian, on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2009. This year was also important due to the fact that it had been exactly five years since CEE countries such as Czech Republic,Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia joind the European Union. In order to give the Western readers better understanding of the importance of these two historical events, Leonard decided to write a book that would present the region.
    What I find most appealing in What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe? is an accessible language and very personal perspective that has been adopted by the author. He quite often tells true stories of his friends which perfectly illustrate how difficult life was for citizens of Communist countries. However, Leonard does not limit his analysis only to the period of communism. On the contrary, he provides readers with very excessive historical background of Central and Eastern Europe. The aim of such detailed study is to prove that Eastern Europe is an integral part of the continent, not its separated inferior part. In fact, this thesis is predominant in the whole book and Leonard quotes various sources including statistical data and economic indices in order to support his line of argument. Of course, a substantial part of the book is dedicated to the problems of communism and transformation. Once again, Leonard covers these topics in a broader context, which in my opinion is the greatest value of the book. The author does not simply repeat the cliches but he succeedes in presenting the political situation that resulted in the division of Europe.
    The second method applied by Leonard in What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe?is challenging common stereotypes about Eastern Europeans and about the life under communism. To be more credible, Leonard gives examples of his native country, especially Italian-Slovenian border where two opposite political systems met. Furthermore, I really appreciate that Leonard devotes so much space to explain that Eastern Europe is not a homogenious cluster, but a set of diveregent countries that vary not only in terms of language and culture, but also in the way authoritarian rule influenced society and economy. The author makes a clear distinction between different models of communism in differemt countries. Moreover, Leonard also analyses the reception of these ideas by regular citzens and he indicates that the cultural factor was of much importance in this area .
    To conclude, What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe? is a fascinating work that gives an accurate picture of Eastern Europe. Since it is addressed to non-academics, it is a perfect source of information for those who would like to learn about the region but lack any previous knowledge. The book is very concise and self-explanatory, it does not require any additional study. Written from the persepctive of Eastern European, it quite often shows how biased and limited Western Europe is in the perception of East Europe. The book is really worth reading for every citizen of the European Union because thanks to the process of integration all the nation living on the continent mix together and the deep understanding of cultural varieties helps to prevent misunderstandings that may lead to discrimination.

  28. Leon Marc „ What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” – Book review.

    The book titled “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” has been written by Slovenian Ambassador in the Netherlands, Marc Leon is a diplomat and writer with passion to politics and history studies. This book describe not only Eastern Europe history, culture and politics framework, but it also include a personal memories to what happened after Berlin Walls fall, twenty years ago. Why personal? because he dedicates this book of memory to his friend Karl Lavrenčič, who was a journalist in BBC, also he mentioned about two other best friends from Ljubljana University, Lujbo Sirc and Aleksander Bajt. He remarks those studies time and thought how their live has been changed after transition of political system in Eastern Europe. I think the personal engagement in this book make facts more realistic. On the one hand we learn about Eastern Europe history on the other we have an opportunity to discover a piece of the private author’s life and knows his point of view on particular political issues. This makes “ What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” book more interactive with the reader. Inside pages we read about the history background of the Eastern Europe, which goes back to Middle Age time, when Europe was divided in West – Roman Empire and East – Ancient Greeks. The author explain how powerful was the political value of religions at that time, which seems to be present till nowadays, especially in Eastern Europe society.
    From the economic point of view it was a interesting to note that in past both West and Eastern Europe the economic situation were similar until 1500 year when West part of Europe slowly become more richer than Eastern part. Basically the Europe history was discussed from Byzantium times through Ottoman Empire, Iron curtain, Cold War, Communist time and First and Second World Wars. Additionally the author wrote a lot of issues concerns with Slovenia. It was easy to notice that Leon Marc is a patriot, who is proud of achievement of his own country. First Slovenia become a European Union member in 2004 and in 2007 they entered Euro zone. I was surprised with the fact that when Ottomans approach the Europe, they divided Eastern part of Europe into three pieces, the Balkans ( Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro) Central Europe ( Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia) and Eastern Europe (Belarus, Ukraine). Thus today we have European countries ( Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo) with an indigenous Muslim population, which practice the Islam faith. Its amazing that something seems to be completely different to Europe culture is actually a part of it. The same is with the Slavic languages, Western Europe citizens might think that they are similar, because they come from one family of languages but they are very different from each to other. Marc Leon also explained why Poles do not prefer speak Russian, giving the reason that in the past Poland was under Russian domination, as I remember the Russian was obligatory in schools as a foreign language at that time. I agree with this explanation, because no one like to be forced to doing something, which that person do not want to do. These few examples illustrate the real value of the book, which is the better understanding Eastern Europe history and culture by Western Europe. Most West countries have stereotypes thinking about the Eastern region as a “folklore, shabbiness, misery” part of Europe. To prove this argument Marc Leon describes the situation when he ask the manager of a Dutch business owned by a Slovenian company in the Netherlands to gave him a sample of their product (designed and constructed in Slovenia) for the press conference to shows good cooperation between two economies, friendly manager refuse to gave him the sample as he thought knowing where those product come from may influence negatively on sells in the Netherlands. As we can see, despite advance integration of European Union there are still a lot of things for Western Europe countries to learn and knowing better the Eastern region diversity. In my opinion Marc Leon’s book is a good first step to analyse the problem, because it discusses the history issues, which is a base for understanding why Eastern and Western Europe are so different. This book is easy to read, I will recommend it to those who are interested in Central and Eastern Europe studies.

  29. “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” by Leon Marc is a personal account of the political, economic and social story of Central and Eastern Europe, it addresses the stereotypes about the region. The main thesis of the book states that stereotypes about Eastern Europe are still alive in Western Europe. Author holds that in spite of the fact that twelve states of Central and Eastern Europe became the members of European Union, there still exist the division between East and West. It is due to the historical experience. The book outlines the history of Europe, with the Christianity evolution emphasized. For instance, it gives the explanation of the dislike the Serbs and the Muslims in Bosnia lie. Reading the book, one finds many historical facts necessary to understand the origin of the Central and Eastern Europe. It describes the enormous suffering of the Eastern European countries during World War I and II. What was shocking for me was the statement that in Soviet-dominated Poland people were free to attend religious services. It was partially true, but for those that worked for the country it was strictly forbidden what does not mean complete religious freedom. Some information was surprising to me, for instance the fact that the permission to go to Yugoslavia excluded at least one member of the family that stayed at home as a guarantee that the others would return.
    In “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” by Leon Marc outlines the contribution of Eastern Europe to the richness of European history and culture. His analysis ends up with the conclusion that Western and Eastern Europe have shared the common history over the centuries and nowadays they share similar beliefs and values. Special place in the book has Slovenia, as the country of author’s origin. The fast adaptation of standards and values of the European Union resulted with the introduction of Euro in 2007. The book is also enriched with the real-life histories of people like Karl Lavrencic which make the book more gripping. What is more, they give the personal insight from the author. I find it very interesting, the comparison between Eastern and Western European. It is said that former ones are more reluctant and shy, while latter ones are honest and trustworthy.
    The book “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” by Leon Marc has also informative function for the citizens of the Western Europe. Marc tries to introduce Western Europeans with the Eastern Europe. It informs them about the importance of the other part of the continent in the process of shaping common history and culture. Thus the face-to-face contact between the people of the East and West is encouraged. Solidarity between both parts of the Europe is especially important in the moment of difficult financial and economic circumstances. The book can help Western Europeans understand the Eastern Europeans. It can be a useful tool for the people of the West to accept the new-comers from the East, especially nowadays in the time of crisis when many Eastern European workers are accused of taking away jobs from the Western Europeans.
    “What’s so Eastern About Eastern Europe” by Leon Marc has lot of historical facts described in it. Only the last chapter and the epilogue deal with the contemporary issues in West and Eastern Europe. After reading the book I had the feeling of missing something. I think that enriching the book with more information about nowadays Eastern and Central Europe would be a good idea. I would for sure suggest this book to my friends from the West as well as those from the East. It is written in an accessible, non-academic way.

  30. Leon Marc
    What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe
    Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall
    Book review

    I took an extreme pleasure in attending lectures on Eastern Europe in Warsaw, where the spirit of communism is felt strongly everywhere from streets filled with sad people and dark buildings to Eastern European accent of our lecturers. It was a perfect place to read Leon Marc’s book What’s so Eastern about Eastern Europe.
    The book is highly informative, with considerable amounts of pure history enriched by personal stories that make it much more pleasurable to read. I will focus on all details concerning the economy or those that may be helpful for entrepreneurs in business endeavors in Eastern Europe. I will present my review in two parts, which are concerned with the history of economic development and culture.
    Leon Marc argues that Eastern Europe started to separate from Western Europe in times of Communism and the Cold War. Personally, I, like many other scholars, strongly disagree with this statement. Marc gives a compelling explanation to his theory, which, however, is not convincing enough for many. Cultural and economical backwardness that is clearly seen from the 16th century is clearly a sufficient reason to distinguish two parts of Europe, Eastern and Western. There is a number of different characteristics of Eastern Europe in the 16th century that support this statement. Marc forgets that in the 18th century in the minds of people it was not a different continent with a different culture that was created, but only a separate part of Europe, economically, culturally and politically less developed than Western Europe. There is no sensible argument to claim that this separation was unreasonable. However, he correctly notices that “Western and Eastern Europe have shared a common history over the centuries and today they share so many values that they must be considered two parts of one single civilization”.
    Marc gives a variety of compelling and interesting explanations for Eastern European culture, with which I fully agree. Marc challenges negative stereotypes of Eastern Europeans and repeats the truism that there are always exceptions. I enjoyed the part that explained well the very controversial conflict over the part of the EU Constitution preamble that expressed well the importance of religion in some Eastern European countries. He explained that the Christian religion would not be mentioned in the preamble because it would discriminate against other religions, alleged Church tolerance of right-wing dictators, crusades and the inquisition. This statement is something that many pieces of news available in Poland lack and it is essential for understanding the whole argument.
    An important fact, frequently overlooked by visitors in Eastern Europe, is that people are not willing or do not speak Russian. This language is associated with Russia, their former oppressor. Eastern Europeans do not trust products and services that come from Eastern Europe. They associate it with low-quality items from the communist times. Marc provides us with many more interesting facts and numbers supporting his statements regarding the wrong stereotypes of Eastern Europe such as the fact that communism occurred and destroyed this part of Europe by accident and that other countries were as vulnerable as Eastern Europe and many more.
    The most interesting statement in the whole book for me was about the perception of other people in Western and Eastern Europe. Marc describes it so well that it feels as if one was reading Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. He claims that “The true message of Communism to an individual was unmistakable that the system treats you as a cog in the machinery of a society on its way to a perfect Communist world, so you treat other people like cogs too. And if I am not valued and appreciated as a distinct person but only considered as a replicable cog, then why I should value my fellow citizens who share the same fate as cogs in a machine”
    I strongly disagree with many statements in Marc’s book. However, he gives a good overview of Eastern European culture, history and economy supported by personal experiences of many people. Eastern Europeans should not only tell people that they are not inferior and give examples of it from the remote past. We should forget about the unimportant things like circumstantial history, differences between cultures and languages and, instead, focus on the common future. Proving that, due to historical reasons, Eastern Europe is equal, superior or inferior will not change anything. We should no longer think why and when it happened but we should simply forget about the differences and focus on building one global culture where science and business may flourish.

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