The Magic Lantern, Timothy Garton Ash

The Magic Lantern, Timothy Garton Ash's personal account of the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, is a detailed book written from the inside of the revolutions. Ash writes of the political transformation that takes place in Warsaw, Poland; Budapest, Hungary; Berlin, Germany; and Prague, Czechoslovakia. Ash gives great details of these events, and in some cases he own involvement in the revolutions. This book would be highly recommended to someone with previous knowledge of the history of these countries, or to those who are interested in other writings by the same author. I would not recommend it, however for any type of pleasure reading, which I don't believe it was intended. Though the book does teach a great lesson against communism, and glorifies the people's peaceful struggle for freedom.
The book begins with the author giving his account of the end of the revolution in Poland with the victory of Solidarity ten years after it's birth in Gdansk The reader then follows the author to Budapest and the Hungarians revolt. There the people seem to be following quite the same path as the Poles. With success in Hungary the reader is then taken to Berlin, the exact moment of the fall of the great wall. At this point the author travels to Prague. The happenings in Prague are given in great detail. The author is present at the Forum with the revolting parties. The accounts in Prague become quite personal as the author befriends many of the leading figures in the fight against communist rule. Finally the author adds his comments and ideas looking back one year later. He addresses question such as why the revolutions took place in 1989 and not earlier or later. He also mentions that the hardships are just beginning for these countries and their first attempts at Democracy and a Capitalistic Economy. And finally he mentions that now Eastern Europe is not so far away from Europe anymore. We now are on the way to creating one Europe.
What makes this book possible is the author's very detailed account. Without this these incidents may only be know to the few actually involved. The only problem with this is that Timothy Garton Ash writes from his point of veiw, which may not be the entire picture. He has his own beliefs of Democracy, which probably are very similar to those of the English government. Obviously his views have a huge impact on his writing. Had Ash been a communist this story may have taken place from the opposing point of view. But this was not the case, so the opposing view was very rarely known. Also Ash befriended some of the revolutionaries and puts a lot of emphasis on their views, and put more emphasis on their speeches and their beliefs. But I also believe Ash shared many of the ideas of the revolutionaries, and that he had an influence on them as well. He notes at the very beginning of the book that he gave a speech promoting Democracy, and a particular leader, in Adam Michick, was the man to lead them there. Though Ash's views may be agreeable to most, it doesn't allow the reader to develop his/her own views.
Timothy Garton Ash also ends the book with some good ideas of the reasons for these revolutions. Ash mentions that many factors combined led to people to revolt in 1989. He compares this year to the revolutions of 1849. One major factor was the economy, which was a wreck from years of communist rule. Another huge factor was Gorbachev. As ruler of the Soviet Union he had new policies. They had loosened their hold on the Eastern European Nations, and had allowed these revolutions to take place without soviet intervention. And above all the people wanted to be free. We also notice that one revolution let to the next. And in each case the next went quicker and much smoother. This shows how the other countries were able to learn from each other's mistakes. All this combined lead a time of change for the people in 1989 and a New Hope for the future. Ash also mentioned that these revolutions were all peaceful. This may have had much to do with the