In 1970 costa-gavras made The Confession, a film about the so-called Slansky trial in Prague in 1952. The screenplay was based on the book of the same name by one of the defendants in that trial, Artur London; Yves Montand played London. Principally because of Costa-Gavras's stern direction and Montand's grimly interiorized performance, the film was a chilling plunge into political cruelty and mystery. Now a Czech-born American director, Zuzana Justman, has made a documentary on the same subject, called A Trial in Prague (Cinema Guild), that is more obliquely yet at least equally chilling. Jus
The Light of the Eyes By Azariah de’Rossi Translated and annotated by Joanna Weinberg (Yale University Press, 802 pp., $125) For at least a few years toward the end of his life, Azariah de' Rossi believed that February 26, 747 B.C.E.
I. Madeleine Albright: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey by Michael Dobbs (Henry Holt, 466 pp., $27.50) Down from the heavens he came a decade ago this month, descending by helicopter onto the Field of Blackbirds in Kosovo to deliver a speech that still reads as a paradigm of nationalist madness. About a million Serbs gathered that day to hear Slobodan Milosevic.
Until the East Asian miracle went up in a cloud of smoke, most East Asian specialists and comparative political scientists were optimistic about the prospects for democracy in the region. That's because nearly everyone subscribed to the “modernization thesis” first proposed by Stanford University Professor Seymour Martin Lipset in 1959. According to this thesis, economic development produces a new urban middle class--professionals, entrepreneurs, managers, and so on--motivated to challenge authoritarian rule.
PRAGUE The enormous mass movement that has essentially overthrown Czechoslovak communism rose up with amazing speed. By the last week in November millions of people had participated in demonstrations across the country. Yet as recently as October 28--Czechoslovakia’s independence day--dissidents could bring only 10,000 people into the streets. These brave souls had scarcely unfurled their pro-democracy banners before truncheon-wielding police were chasing them through Prague's winding Gothic lanes. Three weeks later throngs of hundreds of thousands of people were routine in Wenceslas Square.
This week in Prague, Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new version of the START treaty, renewing their commitment to nuclear arms reduction. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also unveiled newly built nuclear centrifuges. And, in a well-timed TNR cover story, Peter Scoblic posed the incisive, probing question: What good is the time-tested doctrine of deterrence in an era where rogue states and terrorists have ready access to nuclear material?
During the last week in August in 1980 a new kind of light appeared in Poland, illuminating the world scene in an unexpected way. An eerie sentence swam into my mind, the one that Winston Churchill wrote about 1914 when the pall of the parochial Irish crisis hung over the warm summer evening of the British Empire; and when the parishes of Fermanagh and Tyrone faded into the mists and squalls of Ireland, "and a strange light began immediately, but by perceptible gradations, to fall and grow upon the map of Europe." That strange light, in 1914, was the glimmering advent of World War I.