CAN THE ‘ARAB SPRING’ LEARN FROM THE COLD WAR’S PRAGUE SPRING?

by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe on February 24, 2011

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Like many of the rest of you, I’m totally ready for spring. It starts on March 20 this year by the way. So I just went to the bookstore — Borders is in bankruptcy and is having a great sale — and bought The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I’ve actually read the book once before but then I was only looking for romance. Now I want to learn about the Prague Spring. Can it tell us anything about the Arab Spring that’s getting so much media hype right now?

I’m hoping that many of you will join me in discussing the book sometime the end of March. (If you want to cheat, I guess you can watch the movie instead.) By then we’ll know more about what’s happening in the Middle East. We can make some comparisons — or decide that everything is so different that the two ‘Springs’ are just not comparable.

I’m going to go out on a limb here too, and list some other — more academic sources that have to do with the Cold War in Eastern Europe.

As you’ve probably guessed if you’ve visited Cold War Studies before, my specialities are the Cold War in the Third World — especially Cuba, Iran, and Taiwan. So I’m going to be taking a look at these sources with you.

Please let me — and Cold War Studies readers — know what you think. What you like and what you don’t like. If you have other readings that you think are important, please pass them along.

As always, the links send you to Amazon, a Cold War Studies affiliate. You help support us when you buy from them. The list is below in no particular order — happy reading!

Garton Ash, Timothy. The Magic Lantern: the revolution of ’89 witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague. New York: Vintage, 1993. (also available as an e-book)

Kovaly, Heda Margolius. Under a Cruel Star: a Life in Prague 1941-1968. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1997. (also available as an e-book)

Held, Joseph, ed. The Columbia History of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century. Columbia University Press, 1996.

Okey, Robin. Eastern Europe 1740-1985. Feudalism to Communism. University of Minnesota Press, 1986.

Stokes, Gale, ed. From Stalinism to Pluralism: A Documentary History of Eastern Europe since 1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Rothschild, Joseph. Return to Diversity. A Political History of East Central Europe since World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Kovrig, Bennet. Of Walls and Bridges. The United States and Eastern Europe. New York: Twentieth Century Fund Books,  1991.


About 

Widely published, Lisa holds a Ph.D. in Politics from New York University and a Master of Science in Policy Analysis and Public Management from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Areas of particular interest and expertise include Cold War Studies, sustainable development, heritage, and the environment.