History of the Present by Timothy Garton Ash
Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (Vintage)

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The 1990s. An extraordinary decade in Europe. At its beginning, the old order collapsed along with the Berlin Wall. Everything seemed possible. Everyone hailed a brave new Europe. But no one knew what this new Europe would look like. Now we know. Most of Western Europe has launched into the unprecedented gamble of monetary union, though Britain stands aside. Germany, peacefully united, with its capital in Berlin, is again the most powerful country in Europe. The Central Europeans—Poles, Czechs, Hungarians—have made successful transitions from communism to capitalism and have joined NATO. But farther east and south, in the territories of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia, the continent has descended into a bloody swamp of poverty, corruption, criminality, war, and bestial atrocities such as we never thought would be seen again in Europe.
        Timothy Garton Ash chronicles this formative decade through a glittering collection of essays, sketches, and dispatches written as history was being made. He joins the East Germans for their decisive vote for unification and visits their former leader in prison. He accompanies the Poles on their roller-coaster ride from dictatorship to democracy. He uncovers the motives for monetary union in Paris and Bonn. He walks in mass demonstrations in Belgrade and travels through the killing fields of Kosovo. Occasionally, he even becomes an actor in a drama he describes: debating Germany with Margaret Thatcher or the role of the intellectual with Václav Havel in Prague. Ranging from Vienna to Saint Petersburg, from Britain to Ruthenia, Garton Ash reflects on how "the single great conflict" of the cold war has been replaced by many smaller ones. And he asks what part the United States still has to play. Sometimes he takes an eagle's-eye view, considering the present attempt to unite Europe against the background of a thousand years of such efforts. But often he swoops to seize one telling human story: that of a wiry old farmer in Croatia, a newspaper editor in Warsaw, or a bitter, beautiful survivor from Sarajevo.
        His eye is sharp and ironic but always compassionate. History of the Present continues the work that Garton Ash began with his trilogy of books about Central Europe in the 1980s, combining the crafts of journalism and history. In his Introduction, he argues that we should not wait until the archives are opened before starting to write the history of our own times. Then he shows how it can be done.

About Timothy Garton Ash

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TIMOTHY GARTON ASH is the author of seven previous books of political writing and the "history of the present," which have charted the transformation of Europe over the last quarter century. They include "The Polish Revolution," "The Uses of Adversity," "The Magic Lantern," "The File, "and" History of the Present." He is currently director of the European Studies Centre at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in "The New York Review of Books" and he writes a column in the "Guardian" that is syndicated across Europe and the Americas.
Published July 1, 2009 by Vintage. 496 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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Ash (The File: A Personal History, not reviewed) acts as informed, impassioned eyewitness to post-communist Europe in this collection of dazzling essays, most of which were originally published in the New York Review of Books.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of History of the Present: Essay...

Publishers Weekly

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Garton Ash (The File: A Personal History), a journalist and professor of history at Oxford University, is one of the most acute commentators on contemporary European politics. Well known for previous

Sep 04 2000 | Read Full Review of History of the Present: Essay...

Book Reporter

Ash has spent much of his life in Europe,.

Apr 11 2011 | Read Full Review of History of the Present: Essay...

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