Kristen Ghodsee - Book Launch: The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe
Jul 15, 2015
from 07:30 PM to 09:00 PM
|Where||FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Lecture Hall|
|Contact Name||Anna Blattner|
|Contact Phone||+49 (0)761 203-97362|
öffentlich / open to public
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The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe
In The Left Side of History Kristen Ghodsee tells the stories of partisans fighting behind the lines in Nazi-allied Bulgaria during World War II: British officer Frank Thompson, brother of the great historian E.P. Thompson, and fourteen-year-old Elena Lagadinova, the youngest female member of the armed anti-fascist resistance. But these people were not merely anti-fascist; they were pro-communist, idealists moved by their socialist principles to fight and sometimes die for a cause they believed to be right. Victory brought forty years of communist dictatorship followed by unbridled capitalism after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Today in democratic Eastern Europe there is ever-increasing despair, disenchantment with the post-communist present, and growing nostalgia for the communist past. These phenomena are difficult to understand in the West, where “communism” is a dirty word that is quickly equated with Stalin and Soviet labor camps. By starting with the stories of people like Thompson and Lagadinova, Ghodsee provides a more nuanced understanding of how communist ideals could inspire ordinary people to make extraordinary sacrifices.
“Ghodsee turns Thompson’s life and the equally heroic story of three Bulgarian brothers and their 14-year-old sister, who were also part of the resistance, into a gentle, reflective exploration of the idealism that drove them, despite the barbarity that many communists had already glimpsed in Stalin’s Soviet Union.”
— Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
"Wonderful.... History looks very different if you fought for national liberation and human progress under the banner of Communism.... To understand ... modern Bulgarians ..., you must enter their world of human self-sacrifice."
— Freeman Dyson, New York Times Book Review