Anne Applebaum is a columnist for The Washington Post and a Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics’ Institute of Global Affairs. Her latest book is Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. (June 2019)
Americans usually remember the end of communism as the result of a binary battle between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, while most Europeans tend to see that era through the prism of their own national memories. Almost everyone downplays one of the most important sources of the Soviet empire’s collapse: the civilizational pull of Western Europe, as well as the transatlantic alliance to which it belonged. The Poles who voted for anti-Communists in June 1989, the East Germans who walked across the wall in November 1989, and the Czechs who protested in Wenceslas Square soon thereafter all wanted, as they told anyone who asked them at the time, to be “normal.” And they defined “normality” just as the West Europeans had in the 1950s: social market economics, liberal democracy, and American protection.
The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age
by James Kirchick
Six recent books argue that a new narrative, or a new European political project, or an institutional revolution, is exactly what Europe needs. It’s not hard to understand why. The continent is plagued by crises that cannot be solved by any one European nation acting on its own: the arrival of millions of migrants, the rise of terrorism, the spread of international corruption, the imbalances created by the single currency, the high youth unemployment in some regions, the challenge from a revanchist Russia. At the same time, Europe, like the American states before they adopted the Constitution in 1789, still has no political mechanisms that can create joint solutions to any of these problems. A common European foreign and defense policy is still a pipe dream; a common border is difficult to enforce; a common economic policy is still far away.
“Tell Them We Are Starving”: The 1933 Soviet Diaries of Gareth Jones
edited by Lubomyr Y. Luciuk, with an introduction by Ray Gamache
In later years, there would be bigger demonstrations, more eloquent speakers, and more professional slogans. But the march that took place in Kiev on a Sunday morning in the spring of 1917 was extraordinary because it was the first of its kind in that city. The Russian Empire had banned Ukrainian books, newspapers, theaters, and even the use of the Ukrainian language in schools. The public display of national symbols had been risky and dangerous. But in the wake of the February Revolution in Petrograd, anything seemed possible.
Karen Dawisha’s Putin’s Kleptocracy tells the remarkable story of how one group of unrepentant, single-minded, revanchist KGB officers, horrified by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the prospect of their own loss of influence, successfully plotted a return to power.
Sheryl Sandberg is disinclined to talk about luck, and this makes sense: If that’s all it was, then what lessons can she sell to women in Lean In? What will women talk about at Lean In circles? What will they write on the Lean In Facebook page? Her lack of interest in the mechanics of her own career is equally understandable. One can quite see that “Be dishonest about your working hours” or “Be at the right place at the right time” doesn’t have the same ring as “Opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized.” That sort of advice wouldn’t have made this book into a best seller.
In 1947, Stefan Jędrychowski, a Communist veteran, member of the Polish Politburo, and minister in the government, wrote a memo to his colleagues on a subject close to his heart. Somewhat pompously entitled “Notes on Anglo-Saxon Propaganda,” the memo complained, among other things, that British and American news services were …