A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, & a Raven
. Penguin Books . NY ,
PS3554.R2375 G85 2011 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This book has snuck up on me. I ordered it for the collection only because it included fables in its subtitle. I have avoided cataloguing it, suspecting that I would be frustrated at the applied sense of fables it would undoubtedly use. It is true that these chapters are no fables, at least to judge from a careful study of the first chapter. But what has surprised me is the engaging and utterly accurate account of life in a communist world. I have been particularly interested in that life since I visited a number of Eastern European communist countries during my doctoral studies in Germany. My brother John and I paid a fascinating visit to the new DDR Museum in Berlin two years ago. As does that museum, this book gets the sense of life in that communist world right with surprising accuracy and nuance. For at least that first fable, it works wonderfully to have Bohumil, the mouse who has taken up residence at the museum of communism, be the narrator to the visiting rat, Hans. The chapter ranges over key subjects like living in fear, living in want, being watched, censoring oneself, having heroes of freedom, having their reputation tarnished, and the quick and unlamented demise of a system by which millions of people lived. I recommend the book highly to anyone interested in what Eastern Europe experienced between World War II and the Velvet Revolution.