Utopias Elsewhere: Journeys in a Vanishing World

Valutazione media 4,28
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9780517585481: Utopias Elsewhere: Journeys in a Vanishing World
From Kirkus Reviews:

Biting account of the outer squalor and inner landscape of totalitarianism found in Albania, North Korea, Romania, Vietnam, and Cuba; by British psychiatrist and travel-writer Daniels (Coups and Cocaine, 1986, etc.), who in 1989 visited Communist states still refusing the pull toward democracy then engulfing the Soviet sphere. Straight away, writing of Marx and Lenin, Daniels trumpets his anti-Communist stance: ``Below the surface of their compassion for the poor seethed the molten lava of their hatred, which they had not enough self-knowledge to realize.'' He then presents a scathing travelogue of five different styles of inhumanity and deceit used with little success by five small Communist states to bring about ``The New Man.'' Among the chillingly absurd scenes of subjection he describes is a visit to North Korea's ``Department Store No. 1,'' shown to visitors to testify to consumer-goods production; Daniels says that the thousands of ``shoppers'' riding the escalators and browsing are not permitted to buy any of the shoddy goods on display but actually are paid (with a pair of ugly brown socks) to pretend to shop. In Romania under the Ceausescus, he says, shortages of necessities were planned to ``keep people's minds strictly on bread and sausages, and divert their energies to procuring them so that there was no time or inclination left for subversion.'' Amid the gray concrete housing blocks of Albania (where, Daniels claims, an entire family is sent to the mines if a member escapes the country), he finds a pyramidal museum devoted to founding dictator Enver Hoxha's life--a life, we're told, that has been rewritten by the government to make mediocrity appear godlike. A hardly unbiased study of the banality of evil under authoritarian Communism. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

soc sci Daniels, a British travel writer and psychiatrist, wanted "to experience the full flavor of Communist autocracy" before it became an endangered species. So in 1989 he visited Albania, North Korea, Romania, Vietnam, and Cuba. He coyly admits to being somewhat right of center politically, but insists that this bias does not influence his writing. However, his book is both patronizing and condescending. The reader will quickly tire of his cute jokes and ploys perpetrated on unsuspecting, innocent people. Most annoyingly, he quotes extensively from the writings of Marx and Lenin, among others; however, he never footnotes and rarely indicates the source of the citation, which is an easy way to quote out of context. Romania's revolution is mentioned in one sentence in a brief afterword. What could have been an insightful view into the remaining heart of Communism in 1989 turns out to be an early 1950s throwback to when "Commie pinkos" lurked behind every bush. Buy this only if you have patrons who are active in the John Birch Society.
- Paula M. Zieselman, Library Consul tant, New York
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Anthony Daniels
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