Dracula is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended it, and Emerged as the New Italy Since 1989, by Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe, Bancroft Press, 400 pp, hardback, November 2009
The United States throughout the Cold War decades has been a beacon of democracy and freedom for the peoples of Eastern Europe. Americans and their representatives were enthusiastically received in the region as friends and liberators after the momentous 1989 revolutions. Romania emerged from one of the harshest communist dictatorships and embarked upon a bumpy transition road to democracy. The second half of the 1990s has been a crucial period in that process, when the first truly non-communist government and president were elected, the market economy reforms were first properly implemented and King Michael, the hero of the WWII who put an end to the Nazi regime in Romania, was allowed back from exile and had his citizenship restored.
Ambassador James Rosapepe was the US envoy to this country during most of that crucial period, from 1998 to 2001, and together with his wife, the distinguished journalist Sheila Kast, gathered in this timely and remarkable book their impressions and insights about Romania and Romanians. Their writing is easy to follow and fluent, giving a wholesome image of their experiences in post-communist Romania. The book is also a travelogue and an analysis of the mentalities of a people that survived one of the most oppressive communist regimes, or as the authors stated: “it is not a guidebook, but rather a look at a country and a people through American eyes” (p.8). The volume is fittingly published as part of the celebrations of the 20 years anniversary of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Continue reading »