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Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends 1st Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195100716
ISBN-10: 0195100719
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Editorial Reviews


"Central Europe has finally re-entered the cultural world of Western Europe and the United States.... Lonnie Johnson has come along with a book which is extremely useful not only for courses on Central Europe but will be indispensable to readers whose knowledge of European ideas is generally limited to the Western half of the continent." --Istvan Deak, Columbia University

"Written by a sophisticated historical analyst, this book is nevertheless more accessible to non-specialists than any comparable work. Lonnie Johnson explains the region's paradoxes objectively, but also with deep sympathy.... Students, travelers, officials, and businessmen who wish to understand the contradicitons of this vital, appealing, but often alarming heart of Europe must read this illuminating narrative."--Daniel Chirot, University of Washington

About the Author

Lonnie R. Johnson has taught for a variety of institutions in Vienna, Austria, and has travelled extensively in Central Europe. He currently is the editor of KOOPERATIONEN: Higher Education, Science & Research in Austria, published by the Austrian Academic Exchange Service.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 31, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195100719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195100716
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on December 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
~Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, and Friends~ is an amazing background history on Central and Eastern Europe. Lonnie Johnson chronicles central European historical developments, whether cultural, political and socio-economic, after the fall of Rome and the rise of the Christian West. Central Europe ("Mitteleurope") is a vibrant region where the interplay of cultures (i.e. Slavic, Germanic, Magyar, Turkish, et al.) and faith (i.e. Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Islam) interact. Johnson gives a great cursory background to the nineteenth century nationalist movements throughout Central Europe and the so called Springtime Revolutions of 1848. Moreover, his elaboration on feudal developments helps gives clarity to understanding the sometimes enigmatic region. Anyway, Johnson explains why it is integral to understand the medieval meaning of natio (nation) in order to gain proper cognizance of history. The medieval kingdoms were "relatively loose confederations ruled by kings who claimed a limited amount of jurisdiction for specific subordinate political and territorial units, each of which, in turn, was ruled by nobles who exercised a high degree of autonomy in their domains." Thus, the nobles and not the people were the constituent members of the nation. Approaching Central European history, without the clouded lens of modern democratic theory, which eschews feudalism as primitive, has clouded proper understanding of the developments so integral to Central Europe and its history. While romantic nationalism has swept Central Europe, the metamorphosis of romantic nationalism with hundreds of years of tradition, requires understanding medieval developments to frame everything in the proper perspective.

There are history lessons to be learned from this book.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By G. BILHARTZ on February 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Before coming and working in the Balkans, I taught European political-military affairs and history, and this has got to be one of the best books on the subject for an American audience. Lonnie Johnson is an American academic who has lived many years in Austria and has an Austrian wife, so his perspective is personal as well as academic. He writes in such a manner that he will be understood by the average American who hasn't done a masters in European international relations, yet goes into sufficient detail to for his book to qualify as a serious treatment of the subject. The conclusions and points that he draws apply to all of Europe, including the West. For us, to whom 1776 is a long time ago, to be able to understand why the Europeans are the way they are, this book goes a long way to explain it. We debate about whether the Confederate flag should fly over the South Carolina capital. Imagine centuries of such symbolic and real gestures that make such trivial issues matters of national importance. Centuries of antipathies and changing alliances are brought into clear perspective in this book. If you only have time to read one book on the history of Central Europe, its shifting borders and repressed emotions, make this it.
Why didn't I give it 5 stars? I like to save those for the Winston Churchills and the Vaclav Havels who not only can write well, but were an important part of the story.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on February 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is easily the best history of Central Europe available for the general reader (or the student). Johnson always keeps the big picture in mind, while moving the reader though events and people that are unfamiliar to most Americans.

Johnson has organized the material to do what you probably want it to do. Chapters on the last 150 years or so cover only a couple of decades each, while the earlier chapters cover centuries. He keeps his eyes on each of the modern countries in the region, while discussing the larger empires that have buffeted them this way and that.

While it would make a good text for an undergraduate course, I think the book's real value is for the traveler. Read the first half of the book before you go to Central Europe, and then read about more recent events while you are there. You'll gain an added appreciation for the sights and for the historical context that produced them.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book is being used as a supplemental reading in a seminar class in Eastern Europe. Johnson, as the third generation of Slavic historians, has written an easy to read, well documented, and scholarly work. His theses are easy to comprehend, and he makes the region, politics, and ethnic struggles of the region accessible to all readers.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on April 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is not your easy read pseudo-historiography. This is a very well research (and notated) academic presentation of a singularly dismissed subject. (Not in the sense of being written off as more of just being ignored.) Beginning with the earliest available evidence of how different tribes moved into the area and then created kingdoms that were dedicated to a family dynasty, up to the demise of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the democracy movement, Johnson presents us with the facts and his own theories, but never mistakes one for the other.

He does an especially good job of explaining the background facts to the "nationalist" myths of many of these nations and then goes on to explain how they have been used and exploited (for good and ill).

He does a workmanlike job of taking us from the Empires of the fin de siecle (in 1899), through their demolision at the end of WWI, the disasterous interwar years of democracy fading into tyranny, WWII, the sublimation to Soviet power, and then the miraculous year of 1989 and the fall of the "Iron Curtain" (which in his opinion, just rusted away, and fell over from a stiff wind of the people's will).

A most scholarly written and presented work.
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