Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europe's Broken Dreams (Paperback)
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In this unique and poignant account of faded dreams, journalist John Feffer returns to Eastern Europe a quarter of a century after the fall of communism. There Feffer tracks down hundreds of people he had interviewed for his earlier book, Shock Waves, decades before as the Iron Curtain fell. From politicians and scholars to trade unionists and grassroots activists, Feffer finds a common story of optimism dashed. These testimonies that he compiles in Aftershock make for fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, reading because they are at once very real and very timely.
Among many remarkable characters, Feffer introduces us to a Polish scholar who left academia to become head of personnel at Ikea and a Hungarian politician who turned his back on liberal politics to join the far-right Jobbik party. Feffer finds that years of free-market reforms have failed to deliver prosperity, while corruption and organized crime are rampant, and optimism has given way to bitterness and a newly invigorated nationalism. Yet, through in-depth interviews with the region’s many extraordinary activists, Feffer shows that despite these stiff odds, hope for the region’s future remains alive in many.
About the Author
John Feffer is a freelance journalist and director of the Foreign Policy In Focus program at the Institute for Policy Studies. His previous books include Shock Waves: Eastern Europe After the Revolutions and Crusade 2.0: The West’s Resurgent War on Islam.
“Feffer's book is so important. Compared to the rest of the world, Eastern Europe is a relative success—and the same can be said about America, even after the election of Donald Trump. If the first half of Aftershock can be read as a warning of what might befall us in the years ahead, then the second half can be read as an inspiration about what we can do to prevent it.”
“A searching, analytical work that tries to make sense of where the former East bloc countries are today and why they arrived there. The lucid, gripping narrative is a joy to read.”
— International Politics and Society
“Based on an impressive number of in-depth interviews collected over nearly a quarter century and spanning a geographical scope from the Baltic coast to the Balkans, Aftershock unlocks a plethora of personal stories and experiences from the region, showing the complexity of the post-1989 transition and political trajectory of eastern Europe.”
— Open Democracy
“Feffer brings to this story a traveler’s eye, a rich store of experiences, and a wise perspective. His thoughtful book is a reminder that few nations, anywhere, easily throw off the heritage of tyranny.”
— Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in our Hearts and King Leopold’s Ghost
“John Feffer is our 21st-century Jack London.”
— Mike Davis, editor of New Left Review and author of City of Quartz
“An essential account of our post-liberal times.”
— Padraic Kenney, author of A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989