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Getting it wrong

Misha Glenny

24 February 1994
In Europe’s Name 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Cape, 680 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 224 02054 4
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... evil capitalist abroad’) in order to concentrate on the everyday struggle of life in the GDR. And the two grew apart. ‘To say that Germany had become normal since unification was common sense,’ TimothyGartonAsh writes towards the end of In Europe’s Name. ‘Anyone who thought that it was normal to live with a wall through Berlin was not quite normal. It was more normal to take a bus from the ...


Slavoj Žižek: Leftist Platitudes

2 September 2004
Free World: Why a Crisis of the West Reveals the Opportunity of Our Time 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 308 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 7139 9764 8
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... was surely the fate of the people as a whole under Stalinist dictatorship: the millions who overthrew the ancien régime, and were then forced to build monuments to their own revolutionary past. TimothyGartonAsh would appreciate this tragicomic accident: it comes close to the spirit of ethically engaged irony that permeates his best work. Although he is my political opponent, I always consider him ...
17 September 1998
Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century 
by Mark Mazower.
Penguin, 496 pp., £20, March 1998, 0 7139 9159 3
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... Back in the now remote summer of 1990, when we were still celebrating the birth of a ‘new Europe’, a book was published simultaneously in several European languages. Written by Jean-Baptiste Duroselle and entitled, in the English edition, Europe: A History of Its Peoples, it is a classic example of the Whig interpretation of European history, a historical supplement to Jacques Delors. Already on ...

How was it for you?

David Blackbourn

30 October 1997
Man Without a Face: The Memoirs of a Spymaster 
by Markus Wolf and Anne McElvoy.
Cape, 367 pp., £17.99, June 1997, 0 224 04498 2
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The File: A Personal History 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
HarperCollins, 227 pp., £12.99, July 1997, 0 00 255823 8
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... passages like these that stick in the craw when Markus Wolf tries to pass himself off as a benign Central European Marxist intellectual, an Ernst Fischer or Isaac Deutscher fallen among Stalinists. TimothyGartonAsh met Wolf while working on The File and felt both the charm and the deep-seated denial. Wolf, he suggests, was the Albert Speer of East Germany, another argument from moral equivalence that ...

Comparative Horrors

Timothy Garton Ash: Delatology

19 March 1998
Accusatory Practices: Denunciation in Modern European History, 1789-1989 
edited by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Robert Gellately.
Chicago, 231 pp., $27.95, September 1997, 0 226 25273 6
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... I recently received a letter from a German theatre director, objecting to a passage of my book The File in which I wrote that, back in the Stalinist Fifties, an East German friend of mine had been ‘denounced’ by one Dr Warmbier, then a lecturer in Marxism-Leninism at Leipzig University. ‘It’s the word “denounced” that is wholly inappropriate,’ the director wrote, in defence of his old ...
8 March 1990
The Uses of Adversity 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Granta, 352 pp., £5.99, September 1989, 0 14 014018 2
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... in today’s Czechoslovakia whose moral integrity, perception, clarity of thinking and humane qualities would fulfil the required standards better than Vaclav Havel. But how about this – Tim GartonAsh writing about the Czech Chartists in 1984? If ever a real thaw comes – from above? after change in Moscow? – they will be ready with their busts of Tomas Masaryk, their editions of Franz ...

Probably, Perhaps

Dan Jacobson: Wilhelm von Habsburg

14 August 2008
The Red Prince: The Fall of a Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Europe 
by Timothy​ Snyder.
Bodley Head, 344 pp., £20, June 2008, 978 0 224 08152 8
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... the anti-Nazi and the anti-Communist cause. In fact he seems to have been ready to flirt with almost any group, the Communists aside, that he hoped might put him in a post appropriate to his rank. Timothy Snyder, the author of this biography-cum-history, holds a chair at Yale and has written accounts of the rise and collapse of kingdoms and popular movements in Eastern and Central Europe. Garlanded ...

A Ripple of the Polonaise

Perry Anderson: Work of the Nineties

25 November 1999
History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the Nineties 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... of overseas engagement is now dominated by this form. Among its most fluent practitioners are the three Anglo-musketeers regularly featured in the New York Review of Books: Neal Ascherson and TimothyGartonAsh (spurs won in Eastern Europe) and Ian Buruma (in East Asia). United by common liberal convictions, the trio are otherwise quite distinct. GartonAsh, a generation younger than Ascherson ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Meaney: Ersatz Tyrants

3 May 2017
... Timothy Snyder​ , a historian of Modern Eastern Europe at Yale and the most rhetorically gifted defender of the anti-Russian US foreign policy establishment, must have been rubbing his eyes in wonder last ...


Peter Pulzer: In East Berlin

19 April 1990
... yet a year ago every expert in West or East Germany would have told you that the country was shrouded in the peace of the graveyard. ‘Why did it happen? And why did it happen so quickly?’ asks TimothyGartonAsh in his splendid new We the people.* I merely jib at the ‘and’, for it is evident now that the rulers of the GDR were right when they asserted that orthodox Marxism-Leninism was the ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Anonymity

19 January 2017
... of what it advocates; for nobody today can seriously believe in the existence of a utopian forum, a marketplace of ideas, where the true drives out the false. If anything, the converse is true. TimothyGartonAsh, acknowledging in his book Free Speech the ubiquity of lies in American political argument, responds: ‘Yet at least in most democratic countries there are two (or more) competing false ...
21 September 2016
... words to the public realm. As these people see it (and they constitute a nameless civilian corps of thousands), surveillance promotes safety for the sake of community. They are believers in what TimothyGartonAsh calls ‘a connected world’.GartonAsh is a classical liberal with hopes for the attainment of a culture of international tolerance and freedom. His book Free Speech: Ten Principles for ...
23 April 1992
Holograms of Fear 
by Slavenka Drakulic, translated by Ellen Elias-Barsaic and Slavenka Drakulic.
Hutchinson, 184 pp., £13.99, January 1992, 0 09 174994 8
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Revolution From Within 
by Gloria Steinem.
Bloomsbury, 377 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 7475 1006 7
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How we survived Communism and even laughed 
by Slavenka Drakulic.
Hutchinson, 193 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 09 174925 5
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... want to be bothered with such things as diversity, complexity or change, a neat little package with a handful of simple, grabbing truths in it is the sort of book everybody can buy and linger over. TimothyGarton-Ash has done it several times already, so why shouldn’t she? Warsaw, Sofia, Budapest, Prague, all cities in which women make soup and grumble about their menfolk in their overcrowded ...

A Little Swine

Sheila Fitzpatrick: On Snitching

3 November 2005
Comrade Pavlik: The Rise and Fall of a Soviet Boy Hero 
by Catriona Kelly.
Granta, 352 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 1 86207 747 9
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... child molester, that neighbour still has protections under the American judicial system: the right to a lawyer, due process, the right to a trial.’ Reviewing our book in the LRB on 19 March 1998, TimothyGartonAsh took a sterner view, describing the whole comparison between Stalinist denouncers and American whistle-blowers as ‘a ludicrous piece of pseudo-liberal moral relativism’. In the light ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time

20 September 2017
The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... base in the public-sector middle class and working class? In Free World: Why a Crisis of the West Reveals the Opportunity of our Times (2004), an early dirge about the waning of Anglo-American power, TimothyGartonAsh approvingly quoted a Canadian friend as saying that the trouble with Britain is that ‘it doesn’t know what story it wants to tell.’ This was certainly true of New Labour, which had ...

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