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Angela Gheorghiu
A Life for Art
Angela Gheorghiu
University Press of New England, 2018
Angela Gheorghiu is one of the most passionate and talented artists working in opera today, a larger-than-life figure whose intensity and drive, on stage and off, have commanded the attention of the opera world. Largely composed of exclusive interviews with the artist, this authorized biography of the internationally acclaimed soprano, covers Gheorghiu’s life and career from her childhood in Communist Romania to her spectacular Covent Garden debut in 1992 and up to the present day. In it, Gheorghiu shares new insights into the performance of many of her iconic stage roles and her collaborations with opera’s leading lights. Also featured are commentaries and reminiscences by such celebrated figures in the music and art worlds as Grace Bumbry, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Bryn Terfel, and Franco Zeffirelli.

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Athene Palace
Hitler's "New Order" Comes to Rumania
R. G. Waldeck
University of Chicago Press, 2013
On the day that Paris fell to the Nazis, R. G. Waldeck was checking into the swankiest hotel in Bucharest, the Athene Palace. A cosmopolitan center during the war, the hotel was populated by Italian and German oilmen hoping to secure new business opportunities in Romania, international spies cloaked in fake identities, and Nazi officers whom Waldeck discovered to be intelligent but utterly bloodless. A German Jew and a reporter for Newsweek, Waldeck became a close observer of the Nazi invasion. As King Carol first tried to placate the Nazis, then abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Waldeck was dressing for dinners with diplomats and cozying up to Nazi officers to get insight and information. From her unique vantage, she watched as Romania, a country with a pro-totalitarian elite and a deep strain of anti-Semitism, suffered civil unrest, a German invasion, and an earthquake, before turning against the Nazis.
A striking combination of social intimacy and disinterest political analysis, Athene Palace evokes the elegance and excitement of the dynamic international community in Bucharest before the world had comes to grips with the horrors of war and genocide. Waldeck’s account strikingly presents the finely wrought surface of dinner parties, polite discourse, and charisma, while recognizing the undercurrents of violence and greed that ran through the denizens of Athene Palace.

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The Cancer Within
Reproduction, Cultural Transformation, and Health Care in Romania
Cristina A. Pop
Rutgers University Press, 2022
The Cancer Within examines cervical cancer in Romania as a point of entry into an anthropological reflection on contemporary health care. Cervical cancer prevention reveals the inner workings of emerging post-communist medicine, which aligns the state and the market, public and private health care providers, policy makers, and ordinary women. Fashioned by patriarchal relations, lived religion, and the historical trauma of pronatalism, Romanian women’s responses to reproductive medicine and cervical cancer prevention are complicated by neoliberal reforms to medical care. Cervical cancer prevention – and especially the HPV vaccination – provided Romanians a legitimate instance to express their conflicting views of post-communist medicine. What sets Romania apart is that pronatalism, patriarchy, lived religion, medical reforms, and moral contestation of preventive medicine bring into line systemic contingencies that expose the historical, social, and cultural trajectories of cervical cancer.

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Coming from an Off-Key Time
A Novel
Bogdan Suceava
Northwestern University Press, 2011

The fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 marked, in one famous formulation, the "end of history." In his apocalyptic novel Coming from an Off-Key Time, Bogdan Suceavă satirizes the events in his native Romania since the violent end of the Ceauşescu regime that fateful year.

Suceavă uses three interrelated narratives to illustrate the destructive power of Romanian society’s most powerful mythologies. He depicts madness of all kinds but especially religious beliefs and their perversion by all manner of outrageous sects. Here horror and humor reside impossibly in the same time and place, and readers experience the vertiginous feeling of living in the middle of a violent historical upheaval.

Even as Coming from an Off-Key Time suggests the influence of such writers as Mikhail Bulgakov, the fantastic satirist of the early Soviet Union, Suceavă engages the complexities of a quickly changing country in search of its bearings and suspicious of its past. Bogdan Suceavă is an associate professor of mathematics at California State University, Fullerton. One of Romanian literature’s most promising and original young writers, he is the author of four novels, two books of short stories, and several collections of poems.

Alistair Ian Blyth’s previous translations include Filip Florian, Little Fingers (2009); Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Our Circus Presents (2009); and Catalin Avramescu’s An Intellectual History of Cannibalism (2009).



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Eros, Magic, and the Murder of Professor Culianu
Ted Anton
Northwestern University Press, 1996
Winner of 1997 Carl Sandburg Award

On May 21, 1991, University of Chicago professor Ioan Culianu was murdered execution-style on campus. The crime stunned the school, terrified students, and mystified the FBI. The case remains unsolved. In Eros, Magic, and the Murder of Professor Culianu, award-winning investigative reporter Ted Anton shows that the murder is what Culianu's friends suspected all along: the first political assassination of a professor on American soil.

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Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania
Maria Bucur
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001

Eugenics movements gained momentum throughout Eastern Europe between World Wars I and II. Maria Bucur demonstrates that the importance of the eugenics movement in Romania rests not so much in the contributions made to the study of science as in the realm of nationalist ideology and social policy making.

The notion that the quality and quantity of the human species could and should be controlled manifested itself through social engineering projects ranging from reshaping gender roles and isolating ethnic undesirables to introducing broad public health measures and educational reform. Romanian eugenicists sought to control such modernization processes as urbanization and industrialization without curbing them, yet they also embraced attitudes more typically identified with anti-modernists in Romanian politics and culture.

Bucur is the first historian to explore the role of eugenics as a response to the challenges of nation- and state-building in Eastern Europe. She presents a balanced assessment of the interwar eugenics movement’s success and failures and identifies connections and discontinuities between the movement and the post-war communist regime.


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Hungarian Religion, Romanian Blood
A Minority's Struggle for National Belonging, 1920–1945
R. Chris Davis
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
Amid the rising nationalism and racial politics that culminated in World War II, European countries wishing to "purify" their nations often forced unwanted populations to migrate. The targeted minorities had few options, but as R. Chris Davis shows, they sometimes used creative tactics to fight back, redefining their identities to serve their own interests.

Davis's highly illuminating example is the case of the little-known Moldavian Csangos, a Hungarian- and Romanian-speaking community of Roman Catholics in eastern Romania. During World War II, some in the Romanian government wanted to expel them. The Hungarian government saw them as Hungarians and wanted to settle them on lands confiscated from other groups. Resisting deportation, the clergy of the Csangos enlisted Romania's leading racial anthropologist, collected blood samples, and rewrote a millennium of history to claim Romanian origins and national belonging—thus escaping the discrimination and violence that devastated so many of Europe's Jews, Roma, Slavs, and other minorities. In telling their story, Davis offers fresh insight to debates about ethnic allegiances, the roles of science and religion in shaping identity, and minority politics past and present.


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Ionel Bratianu
Keith Hitchins
Haus Publishing, 2011
At the beginning of 1918 the British War Cabinet endorsed the view of the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that after the war "Austria-Hungary should be in a position to exercise a powerful influence in south-east Europe." These reassuring professions were the essence of hypocrisy, since the Allies had already given away, at least on paper, large chunks of Austro-Hungarian territory as bribes to potential allies. In 1916 Romania was promised the whole of Transylvania, the Banat - both components of historic Hungary - and the Bukovina in return for her entry into the war. These promises persuaded the Romanian Prime Minister Ion Bratianu (1864-1927) to intervene in the war on the side of the Allies in 1916. He lead the Romanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, where he insisted on those promises to be fulfilled. His often-strained relations with the Big Four and the Supreme Council were further eroded when Romania invaded Hungary. Romania, however, in the end signed and adhered to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye with Austria, Neuilly-sur-Seine with Bulgaria, the Treaty of Paris (1920), the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary, and the minorities treaty.

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The Land of Green Plums
Herta Muller
Northwestern University Press, 1998

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Letter to My Children
From Romania to America via Auschwitz
Rudolph Tessler
University of Missouri Press, 1999

"Sixty-seven members of my family—my mother, her father, my three sisters, three of my brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins—were murdered at Auschwitz."

As Rudolph Tessler's mother stepped from the train in Auschwitz, shortly before she was sent to the gas chamber, she heard "Hello, Esther." In a polite tone, a young German SS officer greeted her as he would any old friend. His family lived down the road from the Tessler family in Viseu, their hometown in northern Romania. They, like the rest of the town, admired Esther for her wonderful cooking, particularly the delicious cakes she brought them each Christmas. Now he ushered her and six of her children to their deaths.

Throughout Letter to My Children, Tessler offers vivid glimpses of the senselessness that surrounded him during World War II. Of the thousands packed in trains and transported from Viseu to Auschwitz, just a small group survived to see liberation. Among the survivors were Tessler, his father, and two of his brothers. This is the amazing story of their experiences as Hasidic Jews caught in the chaos and terror of the Holocaust.

Tessler's upbringing had emphasized community and family devotion—traits not forgotten in the concentration camps, where he and his family members often rescued one another from certain death. Few fathers and sons survived the concentration camps together. In spite of the odds, Tessler and his brother Buroch managed to stick together, sharing their father's labor assignments to protect him from death, preserving not only their family bond but also their spirituality. Tessler's father, always a source of strength and guidance to his family, provided counsel to many prisoners in the camp and eventually assumed the role of rabbi.

Despite an environment in which their captors tried to reduce them to animals, Tessler's remaining family and seven other Jews from Viseu made a special effort to observe their faith. Bending rules in ways that risked their lives, they worked together to smuggle wheat, grind it into flour, and bake matzos to distribute for Passover. The group also secretly gathered to pray on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. These religious observances offered some comfort in the camp.

In addition to vividly portraying the daily struggles of camp life, Letter to My Children follows Tessler beyond liberation, recounting his days as a displaced person struggling for a new life in the midst of the devastation of postwar Europe, as an American immigrant striving to rebuild his family and succeed in business, and as a philanthropist for education and health care. Recalling the age-old way of life in Viseu that was erased by the Holocaust, this inspiring story conveys the hope, determination, and perseverance that made Tessler a survivor.


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The Man Who Swam into History
The (Mostly) True Story of My Jewish Family
By Robert A. Rosenstone
University of Texas Press, 2005

The story begins with a grandfather who heroically escaped from Russia by swimming the Pruth River to Romania—or did he? Then there are stories of another grandfather who kept a lifelong mistress; grandmothers who were ignored except in the kitchen; migrations legal and illegal from Eastern Europe to Canada to California; racketeers on one side of the family and Communists on the other; and a West Coast adolescence in the McCarthy years. All of these (mostly true) stories form a Jewish family's history, a tale of dislocation and assimilation. But in the hands of award-winning historian Robert Rosenstone, they become much more. The fragments of memory so beautifully preserved in The Man Who Swam into History add unforgettable, human characters to the now familiar story of the Jewish diaspora in the twentieth century.

This combination memoir/short story collection recounts the Rosenstone family's passage from Romania to America. Robert Rosenstone tells the story not as a single, linear narrative, but through "tales, sequences, windows, moments, and fragments resurrected from the lives of three generations in my two parental families, set in five countries on two continents over the period of almost a century." This more literary and personal approach allows Rosenstone's relatives to emerge as distinct personalities, voices who quarrel and gossip, share their dreams and fears, and maintain the ties of a loving, if eccentric, family. Among the genre of "coming to America" tales, The Man Who Swam into History is a work of unique vision, one that both records and reconstructs the past even as it continuously—and humorously—questions the truth of its own assertions.


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Military Occupation and Diplomacy
Soviet Troops in Romania, 1944–1958
Sergiu Verona
Duke University Press, 1992
In 1958, after fourteen years of military occupation, Khrushchev—in an unprecedented act—withdrew the Soviet Union’s troops from Romania as part of a political move intended to encourage the withdrawal of Western military forces from Europe. In analyzing this crucial historic episode, Sergiu Verona’s comprehensive study illustrates the dynamics of Soviet military presence in Romania and provides a framework for understanding Soviet security policy, then and now, as well as the interaction between Soviet military objectives and diplomacy.
Drawing on declassified archival material in the United States and the United Kingdom, the author considers Khrushchev’s reversal of Stalinist expansionism by examining the motivation, function, and operation of the initial occupation of Romania; the complex involvement of Soviet diplomacy and its perception by the United States and other Western powers; the process by which Khrushchev decided to withdraw Soviet troops from that country; and the impact of this decision on Soviet policy. Verona extends his analysis, providing comparisons between Khrushchev’s and Gorbachev’s approaches to Eastern Europe, noting that similarities exist not only in domestic policies but in the realm of foreign policy as well.

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Mothers, Families or Children? Family Policy in Poland, Hungary, and Romania, 1945-2020
Tomasz Inglot
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022

Mothers, Families, or Children? is the first comparative-historical study of family policies in Poland, Hungary, and Romania from 1945 until the eve of the global pandemic in 2020. The book highlights the emergence, consolidation, and perseverance of three types of family policies based on “mother-orientation” in Poland, “family orientation” in Hungary, and “child-orientation” in Romania. It uses a new theoretical framework to identify core and contingent clusters of benefits and services in each country and trace their development across time and under different political regimes, before and after 1989. It also examines and compares policy continuity and change with special attention to institutions, ideas, and actors involved in decision making and reform. As family policies continue to evolve in the era of European Union membership and new governmental and societal actors emerge, this study reveals mechanisms that help preserve core family policy clusters while allowing reform in contingent ones in each country.


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My Life as a Spy
Investigations in a Secret Police File
Katherine Verdery
Duke University Press, 2018
As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police—the Securitate—compiled a massive surveillance file on her. Reading through its 2,781 pages, she learned that she was "actually" a spy, a CIA agent, a Hungarian agitator, and a friend of dissidents: in short, an enemy of Romania. In My Life as a Spy she analyzes her file alongside her original field notes and conversations with Securitate officers. Verdery also talks with some of the informers who were close friends, learning the complex circumstances that led them to report on her, and considers how fieldwork and spying can be easily confused. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.

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Rakes of the Old Court
A Novel
Mateiu Caragiale, Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter
Northwestern University Press, 2020
Widely regarded as the greatest Romanian novel of the twentieth century, Mateiu Caragiale’s Rakes of the Old Court (Craii de Curtea-Veche) follows four characters through the bars and brothels of Bucharest. Guided by an amoral opportunist, the shadowy narrator and his two affluent friends drink and gamble their way through a city built on the ruins of crumbled castles and bygone empires. The novel’s shimmering, spectacular prose describes gripping vignettes of love, ambition, and decay.
Originally published in 1929, Rakes of the Old Court is considered a jewel of Romanian modernism. Devoted “Mateists” have long read, memorized, and reenacted the novel, and after the Romanian Revolution, it became part of the high school curriculum. Now canonical, Mateiu’s work has been celebrated for its opulent literary style and enigmatic tone.

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Lucian Boia
Reaktion Books, 2001
Romania occupies a unique position on the map of Eastern Europe. It is a country that presents many paradoxes. In this book the preeminent Romanian historian Lucian Boia examines his native land's development from the Middle Ages to modern times, delineating its culture, history, language, politics and ethnic identity. Boia introduces us to the heroes and myths of Romanian history, and provides an enlightening account of the history of Romanian Communism. He shows how modernization and the influence of the West have divided the nation - town versus country, nationalists versus pro-European factions, the elite versus the masses - and argues that Romania today is in chronic difficulty as it tries to fix its identity and envision a future for itself.

The book concludes with a tour of Bucharest, whose houses, streets and public monuments embody Romania's traditional values and contemporary contradictions.

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Romania’s Abandoned Children
Deprivation, Brain Development, and the Struggle for Recovery
Charles A. Nelson, Nathan A. Fox, and Charles H. Zeanah
Harvard University Press, 2014

The implications of early experience for children's brain development, behavior, and psychological functioning have long absorbed caregivers, researchers, and clinicians. The 1989 fall of Romania's Ceausescu regime left approximately 170,000 children in 700 overcrowded, impoverished institutions across Romania, and prompted the most comprehensive study to date on the effects of institutionalization on children's well-being. Romania's Abandoned Children, the authoritative account of this landmark study, documents the devastating toll paid by children who are deprived of responsive care, social interaction, stimulation, and psychological comfort.

Launched in 2000, the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) was a rigorously controlled investigation of foster care as an alternative to institutionalization. Researchers included 136 abandoned infants and toddlers in the study and randomly assigned half of them to foster care created specifically for the project. The other half stayed in Romanian institutions, where conditions remained substandard. Over a twelve-year span, both groups were assessed for physical growth, cognitive functioning, brain development, and social behavior. Data from a third group of children raised by their birth families were collected for comparison.

The study found that the institutionalized children were severely impaired in IQ and manifested a variety of social and emotional disorders, as well as changes in brain development. However, the earlier an institutionalized child was placed into foster care, the better the recovery. Combining scientific, historical, and personal narratives in a gripping, often heartbreaking, account, Romania's Abandoned Children highlights the urgency of efforts to help the millions of parentless children living in institutions throughout the world.


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The Space of Boredom
Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order
Bruce O'Neill
Duke University Press, 2017
In The Space of Boredom Bruce O'Neill explores how people cast aside by globalism deal with an intractable symptom of downward mobility: an unshakeable and immense boredom. Focusing on Bucharest, Romania, where the 2008 financial crisis compounded the failures of the postsocialist state to deliver on the promises of liberalism, O'Neill shows how the city's homeless are unable to fully participate in a society that is increasingly organized around practices of consumption. Without a job to work, a home to make, or money to spend, the homeless—who include pensioners abandoned by their families and the state—struggle daily with the slow deterioration of their lives. O'Neill moves between homeless shelters and squatter camps, black labor markets and transit stations, detailing the lives of men and women who manage boredom by seeking stimulation, from conversation and coffee to sex in public restrooms or going to the mall or IKEA. Showing how boredom correlates with the downward mobility of Bucharest's homeless, O'Neill theorizes boredom as an enduring affect of globalization in order to provide a foundation from which to rethink the politics of alienation and displacement.

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Wasted Morning
A Novel
Gabriela Adamesteanu
Northwestern University Press, 2011
Upon its original publication in 1983, Wasted Morning catapulted Gabriela Adamesteanu to the first rank of Romanian novelists. She has since been translated into many languages, and now her most famous novel is available in English for the first time. At the center of Wasted Morning is Vica Delca, a simple, poor woman in her seventies who has endured the endless series of trials and tribulations that was Romanian history from WWI to the end of the twentieth century. 

She's a born storyteller, chatting and gossiping tirelessly. But she also listens, so it is through her that Adamesteanu is able to show us a panoramic portrait of Romanian society as the fortunes of its various strata shift violently. Rich or poor, honest (more or less) or deceitful, all of the characters in this polyphonic novel are brought vividly to life. From Bucharest's aspirations to be the Paris of Eastern Europe to the darkest days of dictatorship, the novel presents a sweeping vision of the personal and collective costs of a turbulent century.

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