The lost world of Communism

Is it really 20 years since the Berlin Wall and everything it stood for came tumbling down? Writes

A generation has grown up in the meantime and most of the eastern bloc has joined the EU. History has moved on. Peter Molloy’s The Lost World of Communism, a collection of personal reminiscences (which accompanies his series on BBC2), goes back to discover what life was like behind the Iron Curtain between 1945 and 1989.

The book focuses on Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Romania and is split into several thematic chapters: party people, hero workers, citizens at play, secret police, health, trials and punishment and the like. What emerges is a mosaic of anecdotal lives, each given a neat explanatory context but mercifully left bare of editorial comment. The stories are by turns harrowing, miraculous and utterly compelling.

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