The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us
Francis Tapon yearned for a European adventure, but Western Europe seemed too tame and passť. So he traveled for 3 years visiting every Eastern European country—all 25 of them.The Hidden Europe cleverly mixes insightful facts with hilarious personal anecdotes. It's profound, yet light. Francis Tapon is a sharp observer who helps you distinguish a Latvian from a Lithuanian, while not confusing Slovenia with Slovakia.You'll also learn: - Why Baltic people are human squirrels.- When and why Poland disappeared from Europe.- Why Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia broke up.- Why Hungarians are really Martians.- How Slovenians learn languages so quickly.- Why the Balkans is so screwed up.- Why there's much more to Romania than Dracula.- Which Moldovan tradition saves marriages.- What the future holds for Belarus, Ukraine, Russia.- Why communism was a dream . . . and a nightmare.You'll understand a side of Europe that is still mysterious and misunderstood even 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Francis Tapon is an ideal guide in a book that will become a classic travel narrative.
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I'll be as objective as possible:
PROS:- It's comprehensive: 25 countries, 25 chapters, 736 pages, 330,000 words, took 7 years to write, based on several years of traveling in each country at least twice.
- It's profound, yet light: the book tackles heavy subjects (like history, nationalism, and wars), but interjects humor throughout so that it doesn't feel like a boring textbook.
- It's fast-paced, modular, and fun to read: Despite its thickness, the book flows fast. It's modular so you can easily skip sections or entire chapters without being lost.
- It's a fun personal travel adventure: The book has titillating scenes on the one hand and adventurous romps on the other.
- It will offend Eastern Europeans who are very sensitive about their country: some jokes that will make most people laugh won't be so funny to those who were born and raised in that country. Fortunately, the author doesn't spare anyone; for example, he makes the most fun of Americans and the French (the author's dual-nationality). Nationalists are a common target of ridicule, so if you're a close-minded Eastern European nationalist, you will not like this book.
- The information can be overwhelming. At times the book hits you with a bunch of surveys and facts that may be hard to digest if you're not into knowing such details. On the other hand, if you want to see the supporting evidence of some controversial claims, then the details are critical. Also, the wealth of information makes the book a perfect book to re-read.
If you enjoy Bill Bryson, you'll love this book. If you love to travel and explore, you'll adore this book. If you're interested in Europe, this is a must-read. It's educational, provocative, and amusing.
The author uses a strange definition of Eastern Europe, which includes countries in Central Europe. I cannot take it seriously.
Introductionstepping into the Hidden Europe
Finlandor call it Suomi
Estoniarevenge of the nerds
Latviathe Baltic core
Lithuaniathe remnants of a great empire
BelarusEuropes last communist country
Polandmore than just a source of Polish jokes
Eastern Germanynearly 25 years after the wall
Kosovothe land of myths and legends
Macedoniaor whatever you call it
Greecedefender of all things western in Eastern Europe
TurkeyEuropes bridge to Asia
Romaniathe Latin oasis
Moldovapoor torn and drunk
Czech RepublicEastern Europes most civilized country
Slovakiafor the mountain lovers
Hungarya shadow of its former self
Slovenialand of the industrious polyglots
Croatiahoney are we still in Eastern Europe?
SerbiaEuropes most misunderstood country
BosniaHerzegovinaas complicated as its name
Montenegrothe small country that has it all
Albaniahome to Europes friendliest people
RussiaEastern Europes motherland
Conclusionwhat Eastern Europeans can teach us
Meet the author