Nearly 40 million people perished during World War II, particularly in the nations of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, which endured not only Nazi rule but subsequent conquest by the Red Army. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was dismantled and communism gave way to democracy. Since that time the former borderlands of the long-defunct Hapsburg Empire and the more recently dispersed Soviet Empire have been trying to invent their own versions of democracy and market-driven economics.
In her new book “The Ghosts of Europe: Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future,” author Anna Porter recounts her 2006 visit to these four nations, where she explored the consequences of democracy in the former Hapsburg lands.
Porter will discuss the book at the Library of Congress at noon on Thursday, Jan. 20
in the European Division Conference Room, located in Room 250 of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, which is sponsored by the European Division, is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.
During her journey throughout Central Europe, Porter spoke with leading intellectuals, politicians and former dissidents such as Václav Havel, Adam Michnik and George Konrád. She interviewed the new guard, among them Radek Sikorski and Ferenc Gyurcsány, and spoke with the younger generation, many of whom have little or no experience with communism and no interest in its aftermath.
Porter spent her early childhood in Hungary. Her family fled after the 1956 revolution, and she lived in New Zealand before moving to Canada in 1969. The founder and publisher of Key Porter Books, Porter is the author of three crime novels and an acclaimed memoir, “The Storyteller.” Her recent book, “Kasztner’s Train,” won the Canadian Jewish Book Award and the Nereus Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. Since 2007, she has been writing about Central Europe for Maclean’s and The Globe and Mail. She is currently the writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s Centre for European, Russian, Eurasian Studies (CERES). She lives in Toronto.
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