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Robert Kaplan first visited Romania in the 1970s, when he was a young journalist and the country was a bleak Communist backwater. It was one of the darkest corners of Europe, but few Westerners were paying attention. What ensued was a lifelong obsession with a critical, often overlooked countryâa country that, today, is key to understanding the current threat that Russia poses to Europe. In Europeâs Shadow is a vivid blend of memoir, travelogue, journalism, and history, a masterly work thirty years in the makingâthe story of a journalist coming of age, and a country struggling to do the same. Through the lens of one country, Kaplan examines larger questions of geography, imperialism, the role of fate in international relations, the Cold War, the Holocaust, and more.
Here Kaplan illuminates the fusion of the Latin West and the Greek East that created Romania, the country that gave rise to Ion Antonescu, Hitlerâs chief foreign accomplice during World War II, and the country that was home to the most brutal strain of Communism under Nicolae CeauÈescu. Romania past and present are rendered in cinematic prose: the ashen faces of citizens waiting in bread lines in Cold Warâera Bucharest; the BÄrÄgan Steppe, laid bare by centuries of foreign invasion; the grim labor camps of the Black Sea Canal; the majestic Gothic church spires of Transylvania and MaramureÅ. Kaplan finds himself in dialogue with the great thinkers of the past, and with the Romanians of today, the philosophers, priests, and politiciansâthose who struggle to keep the flame of humanism alive in the era of a resurgent Russia.
Upon his return to Romania in 2013 and 2014, Kaplan found the country transformed yet againânow a travelerâs destination shaped by Western tastes, yet still emerging from the long shadows of Hitler and Stalin. In Europeâs Shadow is the story of an ideological and geographic frontierâand the book you must read in order to truly understand the crisis Europe faces, from Russia and from within.
Praise for In Europeâs Shadow
â[A] haunting yet ultimately optimistic examination of the human condition as found in Romania . . . Kaplanâs account of the centuries leading up to the most turbulent of allâthe twentiethâis both sweeping and replete with alluring detail.ââAlison Smale,Â The New York Times Book Review
âThis book reveals the confident, poetical Kaplan . . . but also a reflective, political Kaplan, seeking at times to submerge his gift for romantic generalization in respectful attention to the ideas of others.ââTimothy Snyder, The Washington Post
âA serious yet impassioned survey of Romania . . . Kaplan is a regional geographer par excellence.ââThe Christian Science Monitor
âKaplan is one of Americaâs foremost writers on the region. . . . In a series of deep dives into the regionâs pastâByzantine, Ottoman, Habsburg and Sovietâhe finds parallels and echoes that help us understand the present.ââThe Wall Street Journal
âKaplan moves seamlessly from sights, sounds, and conversations to the resonance of history.ââForeign Affairs
From the Hardcover edition.
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