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Uncivil Society

Uncivil Society

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Written by Stephen KotkinAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Stephen Kotkin
Contribution by Jan GrossAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jan Gross

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
  •  
  • Publisher: Modern Library
  • On Sale: October 12, 2010
  • Price: $16.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8129-6679-4 (0-8129-6679-1)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. In one of modern history’s most miraculous occurrences, communism imploded–and not with a bang, but with a whimper. Now two of the foremost scholars of East European and Soviet affairs, Stephen Kotkin and Jan T. Gross, drawing upon two decades of reflection, revisit this crash. In a crisp, concise, unsentimental narrative, they employ three case studies–East Germany, Romania, and Poland–to illuminate what led Communist regimes to surrender, or to be swept away in political bank runs. This is less a story of dissidents, so-called civil society, than of the bankruptcy of a ruling class–communism’s establishment, or “uncivil society.” The Communists borrowed from the West like drunken sailors to buy mass consumer goods, then were unable to pay back the hard-currency debts and so borrowed even more. In Eastern Europe, communism came to resemble a Ponzi scheme, one whose implosion carries enduring lessons. From East Germany’s pseudotechnocracy to Romania’ s megalomaniacal dystopia, from Communist Poland’s cult of Mary to the Kremlin’s surprise restraint, Kotkin and Gross pull back the curtain on the fraud and decadence that cashiered the would-be alternative to the market and democracy, an outcome that opened up to a deeper global integration that has proved destabilizing.