The Unfinished Revolution Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central-Eastern Europe James Mark

Publication date:
21 Jan 2011
Yale University Press
344 pages: 235 x 156mm
12 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

While the West has repeatedly been sold images of a victorious people's revolution in 1989, the idea that dictatorship has been truly overcome is foreign to many in the former Communist bloc. In this wide-ranging work, James Mark examines how new democratic societies are still divided by the past. While some view 1989 as a betrayal and defeat, and continue an 'unfinished struggle' against the former regime, others seek to heal the divisions of history, and ex-Communists proclaim themselves to be the real liberators from dictatorship.

This book also presents the voices of ordinary people who lived through Communism to uncover the variety of ways in which they now come to terms with their choices and experiences. Drawing on a broad range of themes and sources - speeches, public ritual, protest, international disputes, museums, memorials, forensic archaeology, secret police archives, and interviews - this is the first work to integrate the study of politics, culture, and social memory across east-central Europe.

More about this title

Shortlisted for the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Award 2011. Read an article about this on Yale's Blog

James Mark is senior lecturer in history at the University of Exeter.

Selected as one of the ‘best books of 2011’ by Foreign Affairs Magazine.

"This book, rich in memory and politics, culture and history, gives a fascinating new insight into one of the major changes of our times."—Taylor Downing, History Today

"The brilliance of James Mark’s book is his ability to make sense of this pattern of development."—Survival

"Unfinished Revolution is one of the best books on east European communism in the last few years."—Padraic Kenney, Slavic Review

"James Mark’s The Unfinished Revolution, is an invaluable contribution to the field of memory studies and it will remain one of the key reference works on the subject of memory and representations of Communism in Central-Eastern Europe for years to come. The book is the first attempt to provide a comparative assessment of the way the Communist past has been tackled by post-Communist political elites ... a highly original work and a truly groundbreaking contribution to the field of memory studies in East Central Europe. The book would certainly feature the reading lists of university courses, and one could only wish that it would eventually land on the desks of intellectuals and civil servants engaged on the battlefronts of memory wars as well."—Balázs Apor, H-SOZ-U-KULT