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Reader feedback: A good read

Re: Reader feedback: Just a media stunt, March 27 - April 02, 2006, Volume 12, Number 12

I just finished Tony Judt's Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945. Judt looked closely at Greece and Italy during their Euro conversions and found that price inflation on consumer goods was horrific. What's more, the prices never decreased, which really hurt the middle class initially. That's the cost of a "hard" currency and protecting one's savings in the long run, though. In short, euro conversion is still a good thing for Slovakia, despite the price hike fears.

Judt's book also gives a new general history of Europe from 1945 to the present that some say is the best overview on the subject. I read it to understand how Slovakia's post-war experience compared to other countries in both Eastern and Western Europe. Major themes addressed include:

1. The impact of the World Wars, the Holocaust, and post-war reconstruction.

2. The evolution of Democratic Socialism in Europe.

3. Disparities between Eastern and Western countries.

4. Wars in former colonies.

5. Politics and parties throughout Europe.

6. Revolutions in Eastern Europe ('56 in Hungary, '68 in Czechoslovakia, the fall of the Berlin Wall in '89, etc.)

7. The development of the common market and the EU.

8. NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

9. Social and cultural changes in Europe since 1945

10. War in the Balkans.

And the list goes on and on. The book is loaded with interesting facts and statistics, but is not without faults. There are no footnotes and the bibliography is published as a separate item on a web site, which makes it hard for to check some of his more noteworthy facts. Also, its 896-page length makes it a struggle to get through at times, and it occasionally reads more like a textbook than a monograph.

John Sherwood,
Washington, DC

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