Communication in Eastern Europe: The Role of History, Culture, and Media in Contemporary Conflicts

Article excerpt

Casmir, Fred L. Communication in Eastern Europe: The Role of History, Cun, and Media in Contemporary Conflicts. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995. 350 pp. $69.95.

Given that perhaps none of the twelve contributors to this volume is a historian and few are specialists in the area about which they write, it is not surprising that this book fails in one of its stated missions: "Connecting the historic past to contemporary insights and challenges, as a fundamental requirement for meaningful intercultural-communication studies." How does the historic past differ from the past?

The history referred to here is problematic. Many of the authors had little idea where to learn the history. One author presents a German history that he argues has been the story of the drive for unification that lasted more than a thousand years. That was a propaganda version (both pro and con) that was used until mid-century but has clearly been revised by all sides since then.

Another author describes how Yugoslavia was an artificial creation of diplomats after World War I, when, in fact, they only sanctioned what almost all Serb and Croatian politicians had agreed to before the war's end. Hungarian historians might be happy with the presentation of Hungarian history in the book, but most European historians would know that it does not reflect the oppressive Hungarian rule of the country's nationalities before 1918.

Still another author claims that Polish intellectuals, workers and peasants have had "strong inclinations toward democracy throughout their history," an interpretation that demonstrates a woeful knowledge of Polish history. Romania was never ruled by Austria. The breakup of the USSR did not restore the autonomy of the Baltic states but their independence. …