Good Comprehensive Book on East European Politics?

by Joshua Tucker on August 20, 2010 · 5 comments

in Teaching

My friend – and resident Monkey Cage Slovakia expertKevin Deegan Krause writes with the following question:

I have decided at the last minute to tear apart my standard East European Politics syllabus root and branch and start over. There are lots of great readings but I am looking for a single book or pair of books that I could put at the core to orient my students to the region in a way that will make sense to them. I’d like something that is fairly comprehensive and yet also fairly basic. Something with historical perspective and attention to broader concepts of nationalism, Marxism, liberalism would be a plus. I realize that I am asking the impossible, but I’d be happy to get 30% of what I’m looking for. Any suggestions?

I hope that by now The Monkey Cage has at least some regular readers from the post-communist politics sub-field, so I thought I’d throw the question out for suggestions. But in a larger sense, I think this is perhaps an area in which a blog like the Money Cage can play an additional helpful role for scholars, by serving as a forum where we exchange these kinds of requests for suggestions about relevant literature.

{ 5 comments }

Kyle Dirck August 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Ooh! Ooh! I wanna get in the Money Cage!

Nick August 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Chapters of Tony Judt’s “Postwar” might be helpful.

Scott Gehlbach August 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

The list of requirements sounds like a marketing blurb for Janos Kornai’s East Central Europe in the Modern World.

Kevin Deegan-Krause August 23, 2010 at 8:37 am

Thanks to Josh Tucker for posting this. These are very helpful. I’ve received several personal emails that I should post here for others who are looking for the same information:
*Try Rothschild, Paul Lewis or Swain and Swain for CEE? Steve Smith, The Russian Revolution. A Very Short Introduction and Stephen White, Communism and Its Collapse (Routledge, available as e-book); Richard Sakwa, The rise and fall of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (also ebook). And his Russian politics and society (new ed 2008) . Palgrave’s Developments series is pretty good.
*I like Roskin’s Th Rebirth of East Europe — at least to be used as one of the books. Sakwa’s on Russia. There is also Hesli’s Gpvernments and Politics in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region
*Two recent collections are useful. Ramet’s Central and South-eastern Europe published by Cambridge Uni Press and Curry and Sharon Wolcik’s edited volume Central and East European Politics published by Rowman and Littlefield. Developments in CEE politics 4 is good, but probably better suited for the more advanced student. I wrote a chapter for Hay and Menon’s textbook on European Politics published by Oxford University Press in 2007 which assumes no prior knowledge of CEE and tries to introduce a student to the politics CEE in 6000 words which I think does a pretty good job.
*See the special issue of the Journal of International Relations and Development from November 2009, (20 years after 1989 and all that)…
http://www.palgrave-journals.com/jird/journal/v12/n4/index.html

Kevin Deegan-Krause August 24, 2010 at 8:36 am

A few more recommendations I’ve received in the last few days:
*I use the edited volume by Sharon and Jane Curry. I also assign Chip Gagnon’s, The Myth of Ethnic War.
*I’ve always been a big fan of Stokes’s The Walls Came Tumbling Down. Sadly, it’s hard to find something as good for the period after 1993.

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