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Ears Paperback – 8 Dec 2008
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About the Author
Lehel Vandor (1971-) was born in Transylvania, and grew up, as a member of the Hungarian ethnic minority there, during Nicolae Ceausescu's totalitarian regime. His school, and later high school, studies have been completed during the communist dictatorship. The 1989 revolution in Romania and the 1990 ethnic pogrom organized by the newly formed Romanian extreme right happened during his final year at high school. In 1990, the first generation of students of the free Romanian began their University studies. Lehel Vandor, too was among them, and the five years of student life have been a memorable experience in the country that was just starting to find its way. After finishing University in Transylvania, he obtained his PhD in the United Kingdom and permanently settled there. Radical changes in British politics, 9/11, the subsequent War on Terror, and its measures introduced by Tony Blair’s government have provided numerous opportunities for drawing certain disturbing and surprising parallels between two very different societies caught up in their ideological and political fights with very different enemies. Previously Lehel Vandor authored several series of articles and radio programs in Hungarian and Romanian languages, published short stories in Hungarian language. His photography is represented by several photo libraries. One of his other passions is electronic music composition and production. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I do use the word unique, because after many desiccated accounts of various dictatorships, it is truly refreshing to read something that combines the memories of a child's personal experiences with the subtle humour of the reminiscing adult, genuine literary craftsmanship, a gentle lyrical tone of remarkable restraint even when writing about everyday experiences we can't even imagine to live through once.
To quote a part of the synopsis, "It is a personal journey of a Transylvanian Hungarian ethnic child of Ceausescu's dark `70s, a teenager during the suffocating Romanian `80s, a student during the surreal `90s and an emigrant of recent years.
His journey from a world that Kafka imagined, but Ceausescu created, to a society that still fights with numerous ghosts also reveals unexpected parallels between that past totalitarianism and the disturbing transformations of his recently adopted home."
On the other hand, it is not just a memoir of years spent during an infamous totalitarian regime - it is also a sensitive and deeply observant description of what came after the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
The tableaus of a society going through the most disorienting tectonic shifts, seen from `street level', are simply remarkable. What is novel for what seems to be `just' a memoir, is that in the final chapters there are revelatory parallels drawn between the author's former and his later adopted home.
Whether the dumbing down and exquisite propaganda tactics are used by a communist dictator or, years and miles apart, a free democratic country's government seeing itself in the second line of a so-called `War on Terror', it becomes evident: the context and details may differ in certain methods used by radically different powers, but the essence and intent of those classic methods can be remarkably similar.
This is a memoir of someone who not only hasn't taken for granted what his past and present homeland has offered to (and/or forced upon) him, but also, despite all the fast and slow traumas, kept a fascinatingly clear analytical eye for the very different worlds he experienced.
If you want a stunning picture of former and current Romania, coupled with an analysis of how a formerly free country's powers ended up adopting alarmingly familiar `classic' methods to achieve their political goals, read Ears...
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I also highly recommend this book to those in the western - so called democratic countries who never faced any totalitarian regime, thinking that Orwell's 1984 is just pure fiction. Here, at the end of the civilized world it was an everyday reality, and through this book you can smell, taste the feeling of it through a personal (maybe sometimes too personal, but it doesn't mean it wasn't real) point of view of one who experienced it's everyday realities. Maybe reading it you will have a clearer picture of what is happening in other present totalitarian regimes like North Korea, and sadly you will find some similarities with the present and the future we are heading on in the western countries.
As his contemporary, but having been born and living in a "free" country, it is interesting to compare my own experiences with his. Nobody wishes for hardships, but sometimes it indeed feels, as the author observes, that the easy life has been robbing us from the resourcefulness and forward drive that still continue to be vital both for individuals' and countries' success.