The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us

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SonicTrek, Inc., Dec 8, 2011 - Travel - 736 pages
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.
CONS:
- 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.
CONCLUSION:
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.
 

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The author uses a strange definition of Eastern Europe, which includes countries in Central Europe. I cannot take it seriously.

Contents

Introductionstepping into the Hidden Europe
6
Finlandor call it Suomi
17
Estoniarevenge of the nerds
30
Latviathe Baltic core
50
Lithuaniathe remnants of a great empire
66
BelarusEuropes last communist country
96
Polandmore than just a source of Polish jokes
121
Eastern Germanynearly 25 years after the wall
153
Kosovothe land of myths and legends
455
Macedoniaor whatever you call it
494
Greecedefender of all things western in Eastern Europe
519
TurkeyEuropes bridge to Asia
535
Bulgariadefying standards
543
Romaniathe Latin oasis
574
Moldovapoor torn and drunk
605
Ukrainestumbling forward
623

Czech RepublicEastern Europes most civilized country
171
Slovakiafor the mountain lovers
187
Hungarya shadow of its former self
204
Slovenialand of the industrious polyglots
260
Croatiahoney are we still in Eastern Europe?
302
SerbiaEuropes most misunderstood country
332
BosniaHerzegovinaas complicated as its name
378
Montenegrothe small country that has it all
412
Albaniahome to Europes friendliest people
430
RussiaEastern Europes motherland
649
Conclusionwhat Eastern Europeans can teach us
704
Travel recommendations
722
Acknowledgments
723
Three donations
724
Meet the author
725
Endnotes
726
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Francis Tapon is a public speaker, world traveler, and life coach. Author of Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America, he has traveled to over 75 countries. He was born and raised in San Francisco. He is a first-generation American, born of a French father and a Chilean mother. He has a degree in Religion from Amherst College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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