The first edition of this book was published early in 1989—that annus mirabilis of East Central European political history—the year that saw the effective repudiation of Communism by the peoples of the Soviet bloc. Hence a revision has become appropriate and is presented herewith.
Nevertheless, I do permit myself to claim that the book's first five chapters have stood up very well since 1989, requiring only some grammatical and occasional factual updating in this edition, but no extensive structural revision or analytical reinterpretation. I am also gratified to note that my much criticized decision to omit in-depth coverage of East Germany has been vindicated by history, as that soi-disant state has now vanished from the map of Europe. Chapter 6 has been rethought, recast, and restructured. Chapter 7 (“The Various Endgames”) is entirely new, as is the Epilogue. They relate the termination of Communism in each of the area's countries, analyze the motors of this process in the area as a whole, and speculate about the problematics of the transition to postcommunism.
If granted sufficient longevity and health, I would like, in due course, to write a successor book on postcommunist East Central Europe, as an exercise both in contemporary history and in the politicalscience specialization of systemic transitions. That book would, in effect, round out a trilogy consisting of my East Central Europe Between the Two World Wars (University of Washington Press, 1974), the present volume, and the contemplated one.
New York J. R.