Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Photo by David Holt
I am trying something new!  A "book review." For my first review I've chosen The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness.  Here are links to the Seattle Library's website, to the King County Library's website, and to Amazon to purchase it.  To let you know where I am going, I am not going to try to summarize the book in a serious way, instead, I am going to write about 200 words or so letting you know whether I think your time would be well spent in reading this book.

In December of 1989 the Romanian Revolution resulted in the ending of the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The central character and narrator in TLHD is an unnamed British man that I imagine to be in his early 20s.  He gets a job teaching at a university in Bucharest, but from there, instead of learning about his teaching and his classes, we learn what the narrator learns about Bucharest, the Ceausescu regime, and what it is like to live in a society characterized by constant surveillance and that is totally saturated by the State.  For me, the most memorable passages come early in the book:

"For all the grotesqueness and brutality, it was normality that defined our relations: the human capacity to accommodate ourselves to our conditions, not the duplicity and corruption that underpinned them.  This was also our greatest drawback -- the routinisation of want, sorrow, repression, until they became invisible, until they numbed you even to atrocity."  

This is not a book overly laden with observations; there is a great story here, and it is through the characters that the reader learns about the Ceausescu regime, and police states generally.  I really enjoyed this book and found it worthwhile.    

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