9780713993233 / 0713993235

History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the 1990s


Publisher:Allen Lane



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About the book:

In the 1980s, Timothy Garton Ash was a respected Central Europe reporter, his books The Uses of Adversity, We the People and The Polish Revolution required reading on the area, but still very much a specialised field. Over the last decade, Europe's supposed margins have forced their way centre stage, and everyone wants to know, needs to know about Lech Walesa's fall from power in Poland, why Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia crumbled into pieces, about Bosnia and Kosovo, where Russia is going. These are the stories that now fill our front pages, and dominate discussions in Brussels and beyond. History of the Present is a series of 29 essays, sketches and despatches filed during the 1990s, its title coined by George Kennan in an attempt to capture the uniqueness of Garton Ash's work--at once journalistically contemporary, and yet with a real sense of historical perspective usually only found with that handily sure- footed guide, hindsight. Some of the pieces are now "outdated" in a narrow news sense, but all the more valuable for that--history-with-hindsight will inevitably iron out all the telling creases that Garton Ash records. What he produces is, in his own word, a "kaleidoscope" that eludes crass summary, but even so he concludes with some wise words on what Europe might now mean at the end of the decade. We should all read this book. --Alan Stewart

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