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In Europe's Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond Hardcover – February 9, 2016

3.8 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[A] haunting yet ultimately optimistic examination of the human condition as found in Romania . . . The author delves into the ancient roots of Romania’s culture and religion. . . . [Robert D.] Kaplan’s account of the centuries leading up to the most turbulent of all—the twentieth—is both sweeping and replete with alluring detail. . . . The rich characters who wander through these pages . . . dispense wisdom from book-lined homes, cafes, or chapels old and new. . . . Kaplan’s Romania offers lessons on the value of malleability, and what ­endures.”—Alison Smale, The New York Times Book Review

“This 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. That tension—between an aesthetic sense of wholeness and the intellectual acceptance of complexity—is the real subject of the book, both as autobiography and as geopolitics.”—Timothy Snyder, The Washington Post

“A serious yet impassioned survey of Romania . . . [Kaplan’s] method is that of a foreign correspondent, firing off dispatches from the South China Sea to North Yemen to the darkest corners of Eastern Europe when it was still Iron Curtain country, and his approach has a Thucydidean texture: a gimlet-eyed realism as gathered by evidence, and guided by an understanding that the knee-jerk of history is self-interest. . . . Kaplan is a regional geographer par excellence—undeniably, whatever you think of his conclusions—a big-picture man.”The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Kaplan is one of America’s foremost writers on the region. . . . In a series of deep dives into the region’s past—Byzantine, Ottoman, Habsburg and Soviet—he finds parallels and echoes that help us understand the present.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“Kaplan moves seamlessly from sights, sounds, and conversations to the resonance of history. . . . In Kaplan’s hands, Romania emerges as no mere footnote, but as a historical and political pivot.”Foreign Affairs

“Kaplan’s work exemplifies rare intellectual, moral and political engagement with the political order—and disorder—of our world. . . . Kaplan’s writing is like the places he visits. It’s a terrain, a concentrated expression of a particular part of the world as he sees it. . . . In Europe’s Shadow amounts to a kind of historical anthropology plus geopolitics, a deep study of a particular country and people. . . . It shows how, at one and the same time, Romania is distinctive and a key to a broader and deeper understanding of contemporary Europe.”The Huffington Post

“Kaplan’s is travel writing at its contemporary finest, weaving in the sights and sounds of a faraway land alongside interviews with its philosophers and politicians. . . . [In Europe’s Shadow] provides an incisive, tactile introduction to the politics and potential prospects of Central and Southeastern Europe—a region that finds itself once again caught in the headwinds of history.”RealClearWorld

“A masterly work of important history, analysis, and prophecy about the ancient and modern rise of Romania as a roundabout between Russia and Europe . . . I learned something new on every page. Robert D. Kaplan is a master.”—Tom Brokaw
 
“A tour de force of cultural and political travel writing in which Romania’s complex past and uncertain present become vivid and newly urgent.”—Colin Thubron, author of Shadow of the Silk Road and co-editor of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s The Broken Road
 
“Robert D. Kaplan has the remarkable ability to see over the geopolitical horizon, and he now turns his attention to Europe’s marchlands—the former ‘Greater Romania’ lying between the Balkans and a resurgent Russia. In a triple journey through books, landscapes, and histories, he tackles the meaning of geography, the influence of intellectuals, and the daffiness—and power—of nationalism. . . . Timely, insightful, and deeply honest.”—Charles King, professor of international affairs, Georgetown University, and author of Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul
 
“For an appreciation of contemporary Romanian attitudes, Robert Kaplan’s book has no equal. As an outsider, yet within, the author offers an analysis of Romania that combines erudition and authority. His sparkling, suggestive reflections, drawing upon history and landscape, capture the DNA of the country and its inhabitants.”—Dennis Deletant, Ion Rațiu Visiting Professor of Romanian Studies, Georgetown University, and emeritus professor, University College London
 
“A moving book—an illuminating and compassionate guide through the labyrinth of Romania’s immensely convoluted and often traumatic past . . . In spite of the many dark, distressing moments that no one should ignore, In Europe’s Shadow conveys a sense of hope, promise, and continuous renewal.”Vladimir Tismăneanu, professor of politics, University of Maryland, and author of The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century
 
“Kaplan illuminates the extraordinary journey of the people of Romania, as well as millions of other East Europeans, from the tragic Soviet despotism of the decades after the Second World War to their more hopeful and democratic future as members of NATO and the European Union. Kaplan’s ability to weave together complex histories, religion, memory, and political thought is nearly unmatched.”—Nicholas Burns, professor, Harvard Kennedy School, and former undersecretary of state for political affairs
 
“A favorite of mine for years, Robert D. Kaplan is a thoughtful and insight-driven historian who writes clear and compelling prose, but what I like most about him is his political sophistication. In Europe’s Shadow makes you look up and think about what’s on the page—a true pleasure for the reader.”—Alan Furst

About the Author

Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of sixteen books on foreign affairs and travel that have been translated into many languages, including Asia’s Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, where his work has appeared for three decades. He was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. Foreign Policy magazine twice named him one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (February 9, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081299681X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812996814
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John E. Drury VINE VOICE on January 23, 2016
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Robert Kaplan’s energetic inquiries stand out in “In Europe’s Shadow” in which he revisits Romania/Hungary and the themes in his well received earlier book “Balkan Ghosts.” With Romania as his stepping stone, he examines its Latinized Byzantium founding, its Communist/Ceausescu past (“that baroque synthesis of Communism and fascism”) and the incipient nationalism of present day Eastern Europe as the stresses of disunion plague the European Union, a “revanchist Russia” looms, the United States backs away and Ukraine becomes in his words “more central to the European drama than Spain or Portugal.” The most recent migrant emigration into Eastern Europe is not mentioned, but he does utter warnings of the rise of the right in Hungary. He warns “[i]f the European Union crumbled, there was only exclusivist ethnic nationalism and the dementia of ideologies.”

The mid part of the book, however, lags. Kaplan, much given to embroidered prose and adjectival excess, too often rhapsodizes about his earlier visits to Romania in 1973 and 1981 and repeatedly cites to the thinkers of Eastern Europe without any clear indication of what he thinks. This detracts from the book’s readability.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author’s credentials are outstanding, but I found the book to be only mildly to my liking. In my opinion, It is more of a scholarly piece of work and relies on an academically inclined reader to enjoy the work. I did not like how the author kept me looking up words that I rarely encounter when a more commonly used word would advance the story just as well. I also did not enjoy having to look up personal backgrounds and other information that the author places into the book in a manner that assumes the reader is already familiar with the people and histories. Unfortunately, this work did not meet my personal objectives as a reader. But, I am glad that I read the book. My own family has its long ago roots in the lands studied in the book.

Robert D. Kaplan, the author, is well-qualified to write about the geopolitical history, borders, and evolution of nationalities, cultures and countries in the general area of Romania and surrounding lands. He is unquestionably an expert in this region. He has worked for thirty odd years as a foreign correspondent and holds credentials including visiting professor at the US Naval Academy and chief geopolitical analysts at Stratfor, a provider of security and international intel located in Austin, Texas.

Kaplan pours his heart and a lot of experience into this book. Most Americans know very little about Romania and the Balkans and Carpathian region of Southeastern Europe. This book most definitely broadened my knowledge of the region, its nationalistic and tyrannical leaders, and its history and future potential. The writer will educate the reader who is willing to treat this manuscript more as a college course and less as a piece of casual reading. It is anything but casual.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kaplan's memory-logue about Romania, the Cold War, the history of totalitarianism, is worth reading for the way he remembers and examines the grey, monolithic, yet scary world of Eastern European communism. He does touch on many writers, may views, and this can be name-dropping, as another critic noted, but I think of this rather as a struggle to create an intellectual frame for his memories.

In other words, this is part memoir, part historical overview, part intellectual journey. I do not have to agree with where he starts and finishes, as a thinker, to enjoy the way he tries to create a richness in understanding Romania and the East in the 20th Century. This sort of book, a compilation of Kaplan's views, thoughts, reading, and personal history, is unsatisfying to anyone wanting a coherent work of history, but is a good window on the world, from his view. If the author is charming (and on balance Kaplan is) the result is a good mix of analysis and primary source stories.

Fallible, interesting, short read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had previously read three of Kaplan’s books Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History, An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future and The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy. I found each to be informative and well-written. So, when the Vine Program offered me this work, which focused on an area that was a gaping lacuna in my geographical and historical knowledge, I had to say “Yes.” Kaplan immediately “drew me in” with his description of his library: the well-thumbed fading paperbacks, full of notes from his youth. “Hardcovers are for the sedentary life. I have relatively few of those…” Indeed, Kaplan is one of the most peripatetic of modern writers, with a penchant for the out of the way corners of the world, as the title to the last of his books named above implies. He further drew me in when he said that the first time that he crossed Yugoslavia by train was 1971, and the first time he traveled in Eastern Europe was 1973, precisely the same dates that I did both, though Kaplan lingered in the area MUCH longer, to the reader’s benefit.

When Kaplan, an aspiring journalist, was discharged from the Israeli Army in 1981, he saw certain areas of the world crowded with journalists; others virtually uncovered. He opted for the big fish in a small pond routine, and went to Romania, primarily since it was the only East bloc country with diplomatic and air ties with Israeli.
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