I thought this book was very interesting. What was most important to me was that it didn't patronize the reader. Most writers from the West who write about Eastern Europe and especially about Soviet-era Eastern Europe do so badly and they are patronizing (for instance, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections). It's not just about getting facts wrong, it's about an attitude of superiority and superficiality which is immediately apparent to anyone who's actually from the region. I liked this book because it didn't do that. It got the details right, and it empathized with the plight of the ordinary person, especially the ordinary young person, who doesn't always have the resources to be heroic in the Western manner. I'm not defending passivity. I'm simply pointing out that not everyone could be a political dissident in the commonly understood sense of the term. People had families, they had responsibilties to parents and children, they had to get on with their lives the best they could and that often forced them to make their peace with the authorities whose values they despised. Sometimes they even succumbed to the kind of propaganda who's value is not unknown in the West. Not everyone can be strong, even if they are educated, and not everyone can see through the lies on radio or television and take a stand. Pit an individual against a regime and you will only get one outspoken Sakharov and one outspoken Havel, but they are the moral leaders, and there are many others "under the ground" who are equally important for the cause of freedom for the simple fact that they don't give up living their ordinary lives, they don't kill themselves in despair, they don't emigrate, they simply go on and hope for a better day when the regime will be gone, like all regimes.