The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sis ISBN 9780374347017
Five out of five stars
The Iron Curtain fell with a dull thud in 1989 with repressive and dictatorial communist governments throughout Eastern Europe disintegrating with the exciting promise of democratic institutions of western Europe being established in their place. No longer was the powerful Russian bear a threat to issue orders regarding how the countries of Eastern Europe were to be run.
With the pass of time since this great event, almost two generations of Eastern Europeans have no experience with the way things used to be, and that is unfortunate. The recent rise of authoritarian and near-dictatorial governments in the countries of Eastern Europe is a regression back to the dark time of the interwar and post-war periods. With the fading of the collective memory of what it was like to live under communism, authoritarian governments seem attractive.
The author of this book is an artist that grew up in Czechoslovakia under communism. His text and images represent his life when saying or drawing the wrong thing could lead to a visit by the police or even worse. There was the brief light of the Prague Spring that was crushed by Soviet tanks pouring into the country, years of darkness and the eventual collapse of communism, when it was finally possible to engage in free expression.
As the free press and dissent is suppressed in some of the countries of Eastern Europe and the Russian government is actively intervening to destabilize them, it would be very instructive for the people supporting the move to authoritarianism to read this book and be reminded of how things used to be.