The Power of Freedom - Central and Eastern Europe after 1945


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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Excellent book, thank you. One person found this helpful. In a book remarkably well written for a non-native speaker of English, Laar argues that during the Cold War the United States was unreasonably cowed by the USSR, a failed state that frequently teetered on the brink of economic and political collapse, especially prior to its armed interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia Laar postulates that contemporary US involvement in other, less important conflicts sapped what little American interest remained in challenging the Soviets on their home turf--at least until Ronald Reagan with his European allies Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl resolved to take the offensive against Russian imperialism.

Laar includes a fine discussion of anti-Soviet partisans in the satellite states, such as the "Forest Brothers" of Latvia, Estonia, and Bulgaria, who held out well into the s. Likewise, he provides a provocative summary of the interconnected Eastern European exigencies that helped push the Soviet Union into oblivion. Laar's treatment of the period following the collapse is more diffuse and less readable. Perhaps because it treats recent developments, the last fifty pages of the book much of it written by Laar's political ally Marko Mihkelson often reads less like a history than a political science treatise, especially when it repeatedly marshals evidence for the soundness of "Big Bang" transitions from command to capitalistic economies.

The book contains a bibliography as well as a large number of graphs and charts, though the latter are not adequately analyzed. Monstrous paragraphs some longer than words may intimidate the casual reader; and the index includes only personal names, though it should have been obvious that scholars might wish to investigate developments in specific countries.

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Nevertheless, this is a fine book that deserves far more attention than it seems to have received in English-speaking countries. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. This book takes the reader on a journey through the history of Central and Eastern Europe from the end of World War II to this day, giving a systematic overview of political and economic processes that shaped the lives of millions of people reluctantly incorporated under the Soviet regime for fifty years. It sheds light on many important events from the Soviet occupation in the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Europe.

It's a valuable read for both people from the Eastern bloc and anyone else interested in the history of the region. It has to be pointed out that the book is not exactly an academic overview of the region's history, even though the author, Mart Laar, is a historian. But as much as he is a historian, he is also a politician and that pretty much explains it. He is a two-time Prime Minister of Estonia and has been active in politics for more than 20 years, so he offers an interesting perspective.

On the western side people enjoyed freedom, democracy, the rule of law and successful market-based economies, while those on the other side suffered at hand of violent totalitarian regimes and the socialist planned economy.

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These regimes destroyed economies and provoked an environmental disaster. The book offers a detailed analysis of the transition to democracy and successful integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.


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The Power of Freedom

This book traces the history of communist oppression from World War II through the transition to a free society in each of the countries of central and eastern Europe. Mart Laar's experience as a leader of the anti-communist resistance in Estonia and then as Prime Minister during the crucial period after regaining independence lends this book a unique perspective, but he's also a respected historian and the book is not focused just on Estonia.

In addition to comparing and contrasting the unique experiences of each of the countries of central and eastern Europe, he also has some fascinating insights about the perceptions of, and policies toward the Soviet Union on the part of the United States and Western Europe during this time.


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  • There are some important lessons there that American policymakers ought to learn. The book is extremely well researched and deserves to become a standard reference for any study of the communist experience in central and eastern Europe. Nevertheless, it isn't a dry academic tome.

    The Power of Freedom - Mart Laar, Marko Mihkelson - Bok () | Bokus

    It is relatively short and written in an easy to read, engaging style that is very accessible to the casual reader with an interest in the subject. While the discussion of the communist experience is heart wrenching, especially when Laar points out lost opportunities for the West to push back against Soviet domination and possibly end the suffering, the ultimate victory over the totalitarian system by the captive people of central and eastern Europe is truly inspiring.


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    • The book goes on to document the remarkable success of the transition to free enterprise and democracy in several countries, and explain what went wrong in others that have been less successful in post-communist Europe. These lessons have implications far beyond countries in transition by highlighting "the power of freedom" to improve lives in all societies. One person found this helpful. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway.

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