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In Search of Lost Meaning

The New Eastern Europe

Adam Michnik (Author), Irena Grudzinska Gross (Editor), Roman Czarny (Translator), Vaclav Havel (Foreword), John Darnton (Introduction)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 248 pages
ISBN: 9780520269231
May 2011
$36.95, £25.95
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In this new collection of essays, Adam Michnik—one of Europe’s leading dissidents—traces the post-cold-war transformation of Eastern Europe. He writes again in opposition, this time to post-communist elites and European Union bureaucrats. Composed of history, memoir, and political critique, In Search of Lost Meaning shines a spotlight on the changes in Poland and the Eastern Bloc in the post-1989 years. Michnik asks what mistakes were made and what we can learn from climactic events in Poland’s past, in its literature, and the histories of Central and Eastern Europe. He calls attention to pivotal moments in which central figures like Lech Walesa and political movements like Solidarity came into being, how these movements attempted to uproot the past, and how subsequent events have ultimately challenged Poland’s enduring ethical legacy of morality and liberalism. Reflecting on the most recent efforts to grapple with Poland’s Jewish history and residual guilt, this profoundly important book throws light not only on recent events, but also on the thinking of one of their most important protagonists.
Adam Michnik was a leader of the dissident movement in Poland. He is editor in chief of Poland’s largest newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, and is the author of Letters from Prison and Letters from Freedom, both from UC Press.
“A powerful collection of essays.”—The Economist
“In special cases, one closes a book with the mind churning, stirred by the arguments within. In still rarer cases, one sets down the book and is moved by the spirit and character of its author. This is one such book.”—Robert Legvold Foreign Affairs
“[Michnik] is the finest champion of everything that has been achieved [in Poland], an eloquent expositor of the moral issues that underlie the conflicts of his lifetime. His latest collection of essays, In Search of Lost Meaning, does not disappoint.”—Norman Davies New York Review Of Books
“This profoundly important book throws light not only on recent events, but also on the thinking of one of their most important protagonists.”—Foreword
“Serious inquiry supports civility in public life, inquisition damages it, and whatever reservations some might have about his positions on particular issues, these essays show Michnik to be very much a mainstay of that civility.”—Walter D. Connor First Things
“Michnik’s book is . . . a balanced and insightful treatment of the lessons of history and the notions of power and politics. It is a well-written, erudite work that deserves to be read and reflected upon.”—Joseph Sampson Law Society Journal
“For readers who want to see how an eminent intellectual thinks about the past.”—Kieran Williams Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“For readers who want to see how an eminent intellectual thinks about the past.”—Kieran Williams Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“In this series of vibrant, far-reaching essays, the inimitable and indispensable Adam Michnik, leading activist and intellectual progenitor of the Solidarity movement, turns his attention to the post-Communist era. Combining personal reminiscence, deep historical learning and polemics in a style that is all his own, he widens his scope to examine issues that have afflicted not only Eastern Europe but the world since the fall of Communism: the rise of right-wing gutter politics, the impact of neo-liberal economics, the new temptations of authoritarianism even as freedom has won an historic victory.”

Jonathan Schell, author of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger

“Yet another collection of brilliant essays by Adam Michnik, which shows again how an intellectual deeply engaged in politics can at the same time be a profound thinker.”

Jan T. Gross, author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

“Lionized and celebrated by many, attacked and besmirched by some, Adam Michnik is a major public intellectual, a passionately lucid interpreter of post-communist ideological and political debates, a moral (not moralistic) thinker, and a courageous polemicist. As a dissident, he did not waver in defying the totalitarian system. After 1989, he has remained loyal to his values: trust, truth, tolerance. In this book he responds to his opponents, adamantly defending his choices and ideals. One may agree or disagree with Michnik, but one cannot but recognize his frankness, honesty and unswerving commitment to liberal values.”

Vladimir Tismaneanu, author of Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political

History of Romanian Communism

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