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Getting it wrong

Misha Glenny, 24 February 1994

In Europe’s Name 
by Timothy GartonAsh.
Cape, 680 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 224 02054 4
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... two grew apart. ‘To say that Germany had become normal since unification was common sense,’ Timothy GartonAsh 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 GartonAsh.
Allen Lane, 308 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 7139 9764 8
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... the ancien régime, and were then forced to build monuments to their own revolutionary past. Timothy GartonAsh 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 worth reading ...
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 ...

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 GartonAsh.
HarperCollins, 227 pp., £12.99, July 1997, 0 00 255823 8
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... European Marxist intellectual, an Ernst Fischer or Isaac Deutscher fallen among Stalinists. Timothy GartonAsh 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 GartonAsh: 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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... a means of controlling the work of the governing apparatus’; and through this breach ‘has washed a wave of corruption and bureaucratic lawlessness’. The reason is simple: the bureaucracy has escaped from the control of the ‘chiefs’ but has not been brought under the democratic control of civil society. Paradoxically, ‘the disappearance of an ...

Who would have thought it?

Neal Ascherson, 8 March 1990

The Uses of Adversity 
by Timothy GartonAsh.
Granta, 352 pp., £5.99, September 1989, 0 14 014018 2
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... would fulfil the required standards better than Vaclav Havel. But how about this – Tim Garton Ash 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 Kafka and their memorials to Jan Palach. They know from ...

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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... 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 with encomia from ...

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 year as the theatrics of the Republican primary gave way to the rise of an ersatz Führer. How to describe those private security men ejecting protesters from rallies if not as the first recruits to an American SS? How long until the diatribes against Muslims were followed by a demand that they wear yellow crescents on their lapels? What is the Wall if not a way to secure an American Lebensraum? As the cabinet appointments snapped into place, there was Rex Tillerson, ready to renew the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, while Trump’s economic advisers seethed about trade deficits as if they were unjust war reparations ...

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 GartonAsh.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... Western curiosity about other lands has a long history as a literary phenomenon – its fashionable origins are generally dated to the Grand Siècle, the time of the voyages to Mughal India of François Bernier or Thomas Coryate. Distinctions between the more advanced European cultures in the volume or quality of travellers’ tales would be difficult to make for most of the modern period ...


Peter Pulzer: In East Berlin, 19 April 1990

... in the peace of the graveyard. ‘Why did it happen? And why did it happen so quickly?’ asks Timothy GartonAsh 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 sole raison ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Anonymity, 19 January 2017

... a marketplace of ideas, where the true drives out the false. If anything, the converse is true. Timothy GartonAsh, 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 narratives, and ...

Self-Disclosing Days

Jenny Turner, 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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... a handful of simple, grabbing truths in it is the sort of book everybody can buy and linger over. Timothy Garton-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 apartments, blur into ...

What are we allowed to say?

David Bromwich, 21 September 2016

... Enlightenment universalism, in short, did not yield the imperative of freedom without the clash of parochial forces interested in the limitation of freedom. Nor has ‘cultural pluralism’ weakened the appetite for suppression among the mixed cultures of the West.A few sticking points remain, even for the most liberal-minded technocrats: the legality ...

The Europe to Come

Perry Anderson, 25 January 1996

The Rotten Heart of Europe 
by Bernard Connolly.
Faber, 427 pp., £17.50, September 1995, 0 571 17520 1
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Orchestrating Europe: The Informal Politics of European Union 1973-93 
by Keith Middlemas.
Fontana, 821 pp., £27.50, November 1995, 0 00 255678 2
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... extremity of this prospect, however, poses the question of whether in practice it might not unleash the contrary logic. Confronted with the drastic consequences of dismantling previous social controls on economic transactions at the national level, would there not soon – or even beforehand – be overwhelming pressure to reinstitute them at supranational ...

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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... Report any suspicious persons,’ the message flashing above the New Jersey turnpike said as I drove south towards Washington a few months after 9/11. I did not respond to the call, but it reminded me of someone who did: Pavlik Morozov, the heroic young Soviet denouncer of the early 1930s whose legend is the subject of Catriona Kelly’s new book ...

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