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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight tempered by frustration
Drakulic writes with a scientific precision: she subjects the trivial elements of daily life to an analytical intelligence to make them reveal the essence of life in post-communist Eastern and Central Europe. Her anger is palpable but her dry wit never allows the work to become a 'rant,' and her ideas are persuasive without being bludgeoning. The only essay I disagreed...
Published on 6 July 2001

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A collection of essays
I read this book while on holiday in modern day Croatia, chosen because the author is Croatian (although she now lives in Vienna with her Swedish husband).
It is basically a collection of essays which appear to be strangely frozen in time between the fall of Communism and the modern Croatia which I visited. It was this photograph of a country in turmoil that was its...
Published on 4 Jan 2011 by DubaiReader


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight tempered by frustration, 6 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
Drakulic writes with a scientific precision: she subjects the trivial elements of daily life to an analytical intelligence to make them reveal the essence of life in post-communist Eastern and Central Europe. Her anger is palpable but her dry wit never allows the work to become a 'rant,' and her ideas are persuasive without being bludgeoning. The only essay I disagreed with was her assertion that the disparity between the state of Americans' teeth and those of Eastern Europeans was a consequence of lack of self-esteem left over from communism. I'd thought it was a consequence of American neurosis!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an valuable insight..., 3 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
I would wholeheartedly recommend Draculic's book to anyone who wonders what has happened to Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of Communism almost fifteen years ago. The author writes lucidly about her own experiences of life under a communist regime, and her thoughts on the development of former Communist countries since 1989/90. Having studied History at university, I felt that perhaps the appeal of the book might be limited to like-minded people, but every friend that I have recommended it to has found it interesting and enjoyable. I read it whilst travelling through Central Europe, and it made me realise that whilst cities such as Prague, Budapest and Warsaw may now have the outward trappings of Western capitalism, this does not reflect the situation below the surface, in the attitudes of citizens, and their memories of the very recent past.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A collection of essays, 4 Jan 2011
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DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
I read this book while on holiday in modern day Croatia, chosen because the author is Croatian (although she now lives in Vienna with her Swedish husband).
It is basically a collection of essays which appear to be strangely frozen in time between the fall of Communism and the modern Croatia which I visited. It was this photograph of a country in turmoil that was its appeal.

Writing this review six months later, several things have stuck with me about the book.
Firstly, the fact that Communism did work for many people and for those above a certain age, the difficulties in adjusting to the changes were huge, both culturally and financially. No longer were they in a job for life, nor were they supported into their old age - and many did not have sufficient time ahead to earn enough for their retirement.

At the time that the book was written (1996-1999) Draculic seemed unable to envision a time when Croatia might become in any way truly Western. The title refers to the cafes that sprung up in Eastern Europe, pertaining to be like their Western counterparts but falling well short of the mark, but the Croatia that I visited in 2010 seemed to be making its mark in modern Europe. I saw few old communist style vehicles, for example, and even though I was searching for signs of the old regime, there seemed little of it left.

One or two anecdotes also stuck with me, particularly the problem of smuggling items such as vacuum cleaners across the border from Austia bacause they were either too expensive or not available back home. One vacuum cleaner absorbed the entire allowance, and that was even with a false receipt for its cost written by the seller.

I don't think I would have got as much out of the book had I read it at a different time and place but it was fascinating to realise how much the country had changed in such a relatively short space of time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Touching Insight, 16 July 2006
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This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
I read this book almost all in one go, it was such a great read. It's hard to find a book that really describes what post-communist life is like in the Eastern European & Baltic regions. I've travelled several times through Eastern Europe and have sifted through many different historical books about similar themes trying to get a better understanding for what it must really be like, but none of it could bring me directly to the heart of the matter as Slavenka Drakulic's writing did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent insight, 18 July 2014
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It's hard to expose the worst, most unflattering side of your own nation. Not just highlight the cruelty of the genocide and war but the more 'banal' evils, the vanity of a politician, the apolitical citizens, the corrupt officials, the naïveté, the materialism and the stench of fear that pervades society. Drakulic writes with a childlike frankness and sincerity not just about the Balkans but about her introspective journey into her own mentality that is a direct result of her communist and post communist experience. Each chapter is beautifully structured and perfectly captures the essence of her generation, achieving more than just showcasing their habits and flaws. You understand them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars re: Cafe Europa, 20 Jun 2002
This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
Astonishing book! Will keep you reading long after bedtime! For the people from former Yugoslavia is perfectly understandable, also for anyone who is from Balkan, or even been there once, or willing to know tremendous charm. They can find themselfs somewhere in the pages! Autor has a great knowledge and a rare compassion, she can wrap plattitude in nice worlds, and make you laugh.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, 14 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
A colleague loaned me this book.

Having worked and lived in South-eastern Europe for the past ten years, I'm always interested in gaining new insights into the local people I work and live with.

For example, the authors explanations about short term attitudes helped me understand some of the behaviour I've witnessed and was previously unable to comprehend.

Even though some of the content is outdated e.g smuggling vaccuum cleaners, a large part is still applicable and anyone intending to spend more than a week or two in the region, for business or pleasure, will find it a useful read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 26 Mar 2009
This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
As another reviewer already said it, this book is really understandable by former Yugoslavian people only. I really doubt that somebody from Bulgaria or Romania will get this book as well as an ex-Yugoslavian. Being one of them, I really enjoyed this book. I found myself not only in some pages but I must say in most of the pages. Although I am from a younger generation than her daughter, I still found true what she has said in this book and could identify myself with her thoughts.
This book is kind of a eulogy to former Yugoslavia, to what we lived through, she doesn't really say it was bad or it was good, just states what she feels, what some of us feel. Not that she says that we should go back to it, but only how it was, good and bad (more bad than good, but OK). And I found it a bit sad. Even though the book is funny, having lived through Yugoslavia and its destruction, it revives you some memories and especially this book reminds us that we shouldn't allow our governments to erase that memory of ours, that part of our history, good or bad, it is ours.

I really would recommend this book to former yougoslavian's (those with an openned mind).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read., 27 Jan 2000
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This review is from: Cafe Europa: Life After Communism (Paperback)
I thought it was touching yet also clever and funny. Not exactly what I expected when a friend told me about it. Funny is not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about an central european feminist but this book changed my mind. Bravo
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Cafe Europa: Life After Communism
Cafe Europa: Life After Communism by Slavenka Drakulic (Paperback - 10 Oct 1996)
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