25.1.14

Timothy Garton Ash - The Magic Lantern

Rating 6.5

Despite of my high expectations, this one turned out to be the less interesting book by Timothy Garton Ash I read so far.

Clever title and well researched accounts all right, but dry journalism/essayism with very little captivating insight on Poland and Hungary. Garton Ash does know much about the rise of Solidarnosc (Solidarity) and yet he didn't manage to engage me about that in The Magic Lantern.

On a side note, I've found it odd and cheeky that the author emphasizes the role he himself had in the '89 process either addressing miners in Poland or coining a slogan for the Velvet Revolution in Prague.
Now, is that true? Is that necessary to know? Is that the kind of political involvement a historian might look for? And did TGA speak such flawless Polish, Czech, German and Hungarian to become an opinion leader?
I would be surprised if he did.

 The chapters about East Germany and the former Czechoslovakia are the shortest ones here, but I liked them more than the rest of the book. Garton Ash and Vaclav Havel were drinking buddies and it shows.

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