Representing the Movement

The Bulgarian election season is underway with voters set to go to the polls on May 12. Public opinion polls show that the two top vote-getters are likely to be the former ruling party, Citizens for a European Bulgaria (GERB), followed by the former Communists, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). GERB resigned in February during a surge in protests over the economic situation in the...
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Challenging the Movement

Last fall, I spent the night in the Bulgarian city of Yambol on my way from the Black Sea coast back to Plovdiv and Sofia. Although I drove around the city looking for my hotel and poked around a bit the following morning, I failed to see what is considered the most remarkable bedesten – Ottoman-era shopping arcade — in the entire Balkans. It was built in the 16th century and has a...
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Regretting the Region’s Right Turn

­ Some of the first oppositionists to Communism came from the left, such as the Socialist Revolutionaries in the Soviet Union after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. Later, in Eastern Europe, the first stirrings of dissent from below also came from the left – workers in East Germany, dissident Communists in Hungary, reform socialists in Poland and later Czechoslovakia. Even into 1989, many...
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Serbia’s Truth-O-Meter

Politicians have lied since the very beginning of politics. Ramses II fought to a stalemate against the Hittites then came back and announced to his fellow Egyptians that he’d thoroughly conquered the adversary in battle. PBS, oddly, dates the beginning of political falsehood more than a thousand years later to the Roman emperor Augustus, who transformed himself into a god. In between, those...
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The Real North Korea

Any book that purports to tell the story of the “real North Korea” runs the risk of serious overhype. North Korea, after all, is perhaps the least understood, least accessible, and least research-friendly country in the world. It has been called an “intelligence black hole.” Journalists rarely visit, and when they do they can’t just interview anyone they please. Historians rarely visit,...
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