Archive for the ‘Ammon’ Category

Carnival of Revolution

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

By Ammon Shepherd.

I thought we were on this one this week.  Anyhow, here are some thoughts on this book that I jotted down a few months ago when I read it first.

Kenney provides three main reasons why communism finally fell in 1989.

Three common explanations for the fall of communism:

  1. Gorbachev inspired and encouraged change which provided the atmosphere for revolution.
  2. Economics – The communist economy was bankrupt and no longer able to support their facade. Mass emigration showed public disapproval. Some governments experimented with free-market economies even before their collapse.
  3. Intellectuals – Intellectual opposition ideas were cultivated from Western ideas and local tradition and culture. These ideas were disseminated widely and a great percentage of the population had access to them. This could be a reason for the non-violent revolutions.


In the right places at the right times.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Ammon’s review of Timothy Garton Ash, The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of ‘89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague. New York: Random House, 1990.

Ash finds himself in the most opportune places and times for a historian of East Europe. As communism is collapsing, literally around his ears, Ash finds himself delivering an endorsement at a political rally in a coal mine for the anti-communist Solidarity party, helping voters strike out the names of communist politicians in the first truly democratic election in half a century, and witnessing the peaceful demise of communism in Poland on the same day as a bloody and terrible massacre occurs in China.


“Sovietization” is not just a cool sounding word.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Connelly, John. Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945-1956. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000

Thoughts by Ammon Shepherd.

John Connelly seeks to look at the process of “sovietization” through the lens of universities of higher education. Before Connelly’s research, it was thought that the process and outcome of the Soviet Union’s control over East Europe was consistent and equal across the board. Studies of individual nationalities had been done previously, and each showed the process in which universities and other aspects of a nation were sovietized. By looking closely at three nationalities together- East Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland- Connelly can compare the sovietization processes and see more intricately the similarities and differences. Connelly shows that while many aspects of the sovietization of the universities are similar, each nation was able to supplement their own societal and national differences into the process. Connelly includes extensive notes and an lengthy bibliography.


What to say?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Last as usual, but on time…
Ammon Shepherd’s thoughts on “Neighbors” by Jan T. Gross

I have a hard time reading graphic books. Therefore my comments are limited to just an observation of the structure of the book and a question. I liked how Gross took a few chapters to explain the outline of the story and the sources that were used and the relevancy they played.

I’m not saying these questions are necessarily relevant to this book or to the study of history, but they are the thoughts that went through my head. This is my response to the book. My questions: Why or why is it not necessary to provide graphic, detailed descriptions of horrific and disturbing events? What, if anything, is lost when, for example, a detailed description of a brutal murdered is summarized as “a brutal murder”?


The other European religion…

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Ammon Shepherd’s little write up about “Native Fascism” edited by Peter Sugar.

The big question in the first two articles is, did Austria have a fascist government before the Nazis took over? One author says yes, the other says not really.


Breaking the trend…

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Ammon Shepherd’s preview of “East Central Europe Between the Two World Wars” by Joseph Rotschild.

By personal challenge, I write my review one day in advance.

Rotschild’s tomb is part of an eleven volume series to cover (at the time, 1974) the absent studies in East Europe. This book is seen to break the trend of no native historians writing a comprehensive history of the East European states in English.


Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Symbols are used to create a national identity.  The meaning, and validity of the symbol, however depends on the observer.  Nancy Wingfield’s article in the book “Staging the Past” shows how the statue of Joseph II was controversial to the Germans and Czechs.  In Cynthia Paces’ article, she shows how the commemoration of Jan Hus and Saint Wenceslas were controversial to differing religions in Czechoslovakia.


Thars oil in them thar hills!

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Ammon Shepherd Response to Alison Frank’s Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia

I was at first very despondent about the book I was “stuck” with. All of the other books I wanted for this reading were checked out. And not enough time to get it somewheres else. Not immediately finding reviews also lent to the feeling of impending boredom. Fortunately I started reading it, and found out what a great book this is.


Clifford Geertz “Thick description.” The Interpretation of Cultures.

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Here is a link to a page that has the Geertz chapter available via pdf.

Ammon Shepherd – Bulgaria’s constant struggle for national identity and freedom.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Ammon Shepherd, reading response #2.

Mercia Macdermott, A History of Bulgaria 1393-1885

From just the chapter headings and chapter briefs, it looks like this is a national myth building history, focusing on the oppression of the Turks and the Bulgarian struggle for independence. The title also states that this work is a history from 1393, but two thirds of the book covers the period after 1800.