In this unique, panoramic account of faded dreams, journalist John Feffer returns to Eastern Europe a quarter of a century after the fall of communism, to track down hundreds of people he spoke to in the initial atmosphere of optimism as the Iron Curtain fell - from politicians and scholars to trade unionists and grass roots activists.
What he discovers makes for fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, reading. From the Polish scholar who left academia to become head of personnel at Ikea to the Hungarian politician who turned his back on liberal politics to join the far-right Jobbik party, Feffer meets a remarkable cast of characters. He finds that years of free-market reforms have failed to deliver prosperity, corruption and organized crime are rampant, while optimism has given way to bitterness and a newly invigorated nationalism. Even so, through talking to the region's many extraordinary activists, Feffer shows that against stiff odds hope remains for the region's future.
John Feffer is a freelance journalist and director of the Foreign Policy In Focus programme at the Institute for Policy Studies. His journalism has spanned Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. His previous books include the novel Splinterlands (2016) as well as Shock Waves: Eastern Europe After the Revolutions (1992) and Crusade 2.0: The West's Resurgent War on Islam (2012).
Introduction: Exile Off Main Street Part I: Stepping Backward 1. Pyramids of Sacrifice 2. The Journey to Utopia 3. The Revenge of the Provinces 4. The Faces of Illiberalism 5. Unexploded Ordnance Interlude: Stepping Backward, Leaping Forward Part II: Leaping Forward 6. Reinvention of Self 7. The Talented Tenth 8. The New Dissidents 9. The Next Generation 10. Creating New Worlds Conclusion: The Future of Illiberalism