Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948 By Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward (Harper Collins, 467 pp., $29.99) MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, née Korbel, is the first woman and the second foreign-born person to have attained to the highest-ranking Cabinet position in the American government, that of secretary of state. She is also the first East European to have served in any Cabinet position.
Across much of Europe, the economic crisis and dread of Islamic immigrants has boosted the fortunes of the populist right. In France, the National Front candidate won almost a fifth of the popular vote in the first round of the presidential elections this spring. Parties that preach fear and loathing of cultural tolerance are part of the governing coalition in both the Netherlands and Hungary. But, over the past decade, a cosmopolitan populist movement on the left has been steadily growing in what may seem a rather unlikely place: Poland.
On March 15, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stood before nearly 100,000 of his fellow countrymen in Budapest and declared, “Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate.” Drawing an explicit connection between the European Union, which Hungary enthusiastically joined in 2004, and the Soviet Union, which brutally crushed a Hungarian revolt in 1956, Orbán said, “We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches.” This style of demagoguery is nothing new for Orbán.
A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War By Amanda Foreman (Random House, 958 pp., $35) The world’s biggest superpower has a problem. The citizens of a nation overseas have risen up against their tyrannical rulers, determined to claim liberty even if it takes a civil war. As the most powerful global advocate of freedom, the superpower has to admire the rebels’ cause. Should it help them? Humanitarians argue that intervention can prevent hundreds of thousands of civilians from suffering hideous state-sponsored subjugation.
Will states soon begin defaulting on their debts, with further negative implications for localities and U.S.
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin By Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 524 pp., $29.95) ‘Now we will live!’... the hungry little boy liked to say ... but the food that he saw was only in his imagination.” So the little boy died, together with three million fellow Ukrainians, in the mass starvation that Stalin created in 1933. “I will meet her ... under the ground,” a young Soviet man said about his wife. Both were shot in the course of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, which claimed 700,000 victims.
President Obama’s new plan to create an infrastructure bank didn’t get a lot of attention this week. And a lot of the attention it did get was from Republicans dismissing it as wasteful spending. That’s too bad. The Europeans already have a similar institution, called the European Investment Bank (EIB), and it’s been highly successful. Instead of ignoring or dismissing the concept, it might be worth examining how and why that bank works—and whether Obama’s version would work the same way. Founded in 1958, the EIB is owned by the 27 member states of the EU.