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From the Editor

September 2003

Volume XXIII, No. 3

This issue contains an exceptionally large number of book reviews. Many of them have waited for publication for a long time. The lead review deals with one of the most remarkable living scholars in Slavic Studies: Ambassador Richard F. Staar, whose Reminiscences have recently been published. As the reviewer points out, Staar's work on Central and Eastern Europe has been of key importance in maintaining in the United States a balanced view of the region all the way into postcommunism.

Our Take essay takes on those who are willing to consent to a version of history of non-Germanic Central Europe presented by historians who have specialized either in Germany or (more likely) in Russia, or who have not studied the languages, and therefore histories, of the vast belt of nations between Germany and Russia. In this short introduction we do not presume to touch upon epistemological questions undergirding the problem of the "orientalist" point of view that prevails in American scholarship concerning the region. Yet the problem must be mentioned. Our Take cites several typical examples. While we recognize the inevitability of selection in presenting the facts of history, we also embrace the idea of an ongoing correction of ideological distortions. The corrections we submit are contained in the books reviewed in this issue. The authority of some leading scholars would dismiss some of these books as marginal, second-rate, naive. We submit that, for verification of historical facts, there is no substitute to reaching for the authenticity of the disempowered.

M. K. Dziewanowski's sober book on Russia is ably reviewed by Professor Patricia Gajda. Given President Putin's apparent return to KGB methods of ruling Russia (Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation wrote about it in July 2003), Dziewanowski's vision of that country seems particularly relevant.

This issue also contains the sixth and final installment of Zofia Ptasnik's Diary. Its closing paragraphs provide rich food for reflection about the historical responsibility of those who initiate chains of events that lead to such disruptions of life and civilization as those experienced by Mrs. Ptasnik's milieu in Belarus.

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