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The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of…

The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe

by Marci Shore

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Although some insights can be gleaned about the " Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe" ( the sub-title), there is no coherent narrative. Some anecdotes are interesting but the morass of names and stories fail to speak to any overarching cogent theme. It is more of a travel book consisting of the author's experiences rather than a historical analysis.
Disappointing because post-communist Europe is a worthy topic that needs comprehensive treatment, but this book fails to achieve that. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
In the 20th century, few groups have endured the abrupt changes in fate of Polish Jews. Once allied with communists and supportive of their egalitarian vision, they found themselves, post-World War II, turned against and often outed as traitors. What is the real identity, the true legacy of these partisans? What simmering anger lies beneath decades of history? Shore, an academic, frames these stories in a personal timeline, retelling what she learns in the order she learns it. Little is at it appears on the surface, she learns. A tough read, but a valuable one. Highly recommended. (144) ( )
  activelearning | Jul 20, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307888819, Hardcover)

An inventive, wholly original look at the complex psyche of Eastern Europe in the wake of the revolutions of 1989 and the opening of the communist archives.
   In the tradition of Timothy Garton Ash’s The File, Yale historian and prize-winning author Marci Shore draws upon intimate understanding to illuminate the afterlife of totalitarianism.  The Taste of Ashes spans from Berlin to Moscow, moving from Vienna in Europe’s west through Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw and Bucharest to Vilnius and Kiev in the post-communist east. The result is a shimmering literary examination of the ghost of communism – no longer Marx’s “specter to come” but a haunting presence of the past.
   Marci Shore builds her history around people she came to know over the course of the two decades since communism came to an end in Eastern Europe: her colleagues and friends, once-communists and once-dissidents, the accusers and the accused, the interrogators and the interrogated, Zionists, Bundists, Stalinists and their children and grandchildren.  For them, the post-communist moment has not closed but rather has summoned up the past: revolution in 1968, Stalinism, the Second World War, the Holocaust.  The end of communism had a dark side.  As Shore pulls the reader into her journey of discovery, reading the archival records of people who are themselves confronting the traumas of former lives, she reveals the intertwining of the personal and the political, of love and cruelty, of intimacy and betrayal. The result is a lyrical, touching, and sometimes heartbreaking, portrayal of how history moves and what history means.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

Yale historian and prize-winning author Shore illuminates the afterlife of totalitarianism in this inventive, wholly original look at the complex psyche of Eastern Europe in the wake of the revolutions of 1989 and the opening of the Communist archives.… (more)

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