History of the Present continues the work that Garton Ash began with his trilogy of books about Central Europe in the 1980s, combining the crafts of journalism and history.
Garton Ash (The File: A Personal History), a journalist and professor of history at Oxford University, is one of the most acute commentators on contemporary European politics. Well known for previous books about Central and southeastern Europe, he returns now with a collection of essays (previously published in the New York Review of Books and similar venues) about events of the past decade. Present for much of the tumult of those years, he writes about the fall of the Berlin Wall, the blood-soaked ground of Kosovo, the Serbs of Belgrade, Vaclav Havel and Erich Honecker (in prison but still defiant)--among other matters. Interested in writing what George Kennan called a "history of the present," he offers accounts of history unfolding before his eyes marked by the detached precision of a trained historian. But he also writes with considerable verve and wit: "Penser l'Europe is a French book title, inconceivable as a British one. Thinking Europe is an un-British activity," he muses in one essay. "Those who do it, even as consenting adults in private, risk being stigmatized as `Euro-intellectuals'--a neologism that neatly combines two things the British deeply distrust." As just that kind of intellectual, he cuts through the bewilderingly complex thickets of history and politics to compose a coherent picture of the upheaval of our times. (He includes a set of annotated chronologies to guide us through the last decade.) Reading these fine essays, one is astonished at the richness and danger of our times--and grateful that Garton Ash is on hand to decipher the outlines of the newly emerging European order. Agent, Georges Borchardt. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|