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A Memoir of Three Eras
Berend's memoir offers an interesting case study, a subjective addition to the “objective” historical works on Central and Eastern European state socialism. It describes the hard choices of intellectuals in a dictatorial state: 1. remain in isolation, concentrate on scholarly works, and exclude politics in your personal life; 2. be in opposition, criticize and unveil the regime, accept discrimination and exclusion; 3. remain within the establishment and work for reforming the country using legal possibilities to criticize the regime and to achieve changes from within. The book raises basic historical questions and debates, compares East European and American higher education systems, and presents an eyewitness’ insights on life in the United States.
The origins and life of East European Jewry took on new historical and political importance after the Holocaust. Two thirds of European Jewry and about one third of the world's Jewish population were murdered by the Nazis. In Poland alone - 99 per cent of Polish Jews - three million in all were killed; Yiddish as a spoken language more or less disappeared. This volume presents a history of East European Jewry from its beginnings to the period after the Holocaust. It gives an overview of the demographic, political, socio-economic, religious and cultural conditions of Jewish communities in Poland, Russia, Bohemia and Moravia. The structure of the book is chronological: a 'history of events' description enriched with cultural elements. Interesting themes include the story of early settlers, the 'Golden Age', the influence of the Kabbalah and Hasidism. Vivid portraits of Jewish family life and religious customs make the book enjoyable to read.
Ever since Thomas's Historia Salonitana was first published in 1666, it became a part of the corpus of European medieval literature. Thomas' aim was to write a history of the church of Split in order to prove that it was legally and justly the heir of the metropolitan rights of nearby Salona, an episcopal see from the 4th century. His reports on the fourth and the fifth crusade and on the Mongol invasion of 1241-2, are based on personal experience or on eyewitness reports. This is the 4th volume of the series of Central European Medieval Texts, Latin and English bilingual editions of major historical documents.
The first book to present the so-called Hitler Library. It sheds new light on the readings of Hitler and on his techniques how to read a book. Hitler presented himself as an ideal reader of Schopenhauer, nevertheless his remarks destroy that image, particularly if we see how he read Ernst Jünger, Richard Wagner, or Paul de Lagarde, and how he reread Mein Kampf. The book describes the gnostic character of the phenomenon as an explication of the success of nazism and that of the Hitler myth and challenges the static views of traditional historiography.
The West's CIA-Financed Secret Book Distribution Project Behind the Iron Curtain
A goldmine of previously untapped information on the untold story of the secret book distribution program financed by the CIA to Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The book program, at its height between 1957 and 1970, was one of the least known but most effective methods of penetrating the Iron Curtain, and reached thousands of intellectuals and professionals in the Soviet Bloc. Reisch conducted thorough research on the key personalities involved in the book program, especially the two key figures: S. S. Walker, who initiated the idea of a “mailing project,” and G. C. Minden, who developed the program into one of the most effective political and psychological tools of the Cold War. The book includes excellent chapters on the vagaries of censorship and interception of books by communist authorities based on personal letters and accounts from recipients of Western material. It will stand as a testimony in honor of the handful of imaginative, determined, and hard-working individuals who helped to free half of Europe from attempted mental bondage and planted many of the seeds that sprung to life when communism collapsed and the Soviet bloc disintegrated over twenty years ago.
Between the United States and the Soviet Union
Based on new archival evidence, examines Soviet Empire building in Hungary and the American response to it. Hungary was not important enough to resist the Soviets, its democratic opposition failed to win American sympathy, the US simply had no leverage over the Soviets, who sacrificed cooperation with the West for a closed sphere in Eastern Europe. The imposition of a Stalinist regime assured Hungary's unconditional loyalty to Soviet imperial needs. Unlike the GDR, Eastern Europe was never considered a bargaining chip for bettering relations with the West. The book analyzes why, given all its idealism and power, the US failed even in its minimal aims concerning the states of Eastern Europe. Eventually both powers pursued power politics: the Soviets in a naked form, the US subtly, but both with little regard for the fate of Hungarians.
The Case of Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe
Twentieth-century Southeastern Europe endured three, separate decades of international and civil war, and was marred in forced migration and wrenching systematic changes. This book is the result of a year-long project by the Open Society Institute to examine and reappraise this tumultuous century. A cohort of young scholars with backgrounds in history, anthropology, political science, and comparative literature were brought together for this undertaking. The studies invite attention to fascism, socialism, and liberalism as well as nationalism and Communism. While most chapters deal with war and confrontation, they focus rather on the remembrance of such conflicts in shaping today's ideology and national identity.
The Role of Aesthetic Imagination in Human Society
Literature is defined in a challenging way as the "science" of imperfection and defeat, or else as a type of discourse that deals with defeat, loss, uncertainty in social life, by contrast with virtually all disciplines (hard sciences or social sciences) that affirm certainties and wish to convince us of truths. If in real history most constructive attempts end up in failure, it follows that we ought to have also a field of research that examines this diversity of failures and disappointments, as well as the alternative options to historical evolution and progress. Thus literature serves an indispensable role: that of gleaning the abundance of past existence, the gratuitous and the rejected being placed here on an equal level with the useful and the successful. This provocative and unusual approach is illustrated in chapters that deal with the dialectics between literary writing and such fields as historical writing, or religious discourses, and is also illustrated by the socio-historical development of East-Central Europe.
Renowned academics compare major features of imperial rule in the 19th century, reflecting a significant shift away from nationalism and toward empires in the studies of state building. The book responds to the current interest in multi-unit formations, such as the European Union and the expanded outreach of the United States.
The History of Russian-Jewish Prose, 1860–1940
The first concise history of Russian-Jewish literary prose, this book discusses Russian-Jewish literarature in four periods, analyzing the turning points (1881–82, 1897, 1917) and proposing that the selected epoch (1860–1940) represents a special strand that was unfairly left out of both Russian and Jewish national literatures. Based on theoretical sources on the subject, the book establishes the criteria of dual cultural affiliation, and in a survey of Russian-Jewish literature presents the pitfalls of assimilation and discusses different forms of anti-Semitism. After showing the oeuvre of 18 representative authors as a whole, the book analyzes a number of characteristic novels and short stories in terms of contemporary literary studies. Many texts discussed have not been reprinted since their first publication. The material offers indispensable information not only for comparative and literary studies but for multicultural, historical, ethnographic, Judaist, religious and linguistic investigations as well.