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Dracula is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged since 1989 as the new Italy

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In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceasescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism.Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union.What's the story behind the Romanian miracle?Join former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife, award-winning In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceasescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism.Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union.What's the story behind the Romanian miracle?Join former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife, award-winning journalist Sheilah Kast, on an amazing tour of an amazing land-beyond Dracula, beyond orphans, beyond Communism, to the vibrant culture, unique history, and 21st century skills that define modern Romania.More than a travelogue or memoir, Dracula Is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged Since 1989 as the New Italy presents Romania through American eyes, taking you with Jim and Sheilah as they discover a remarkable country of boundless hospitality, brilliant skills, and a bright future in a peaceful Europe.A strong, creative, charming, democratic nation following years of dictatorship and isolation, Romania really is the new Italy.See for yourself.


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In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceasescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism.Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union.What's the story behind the Romanian miracle?Join former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife, award-winning In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceasescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism.Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union.What's the story behind the Romanian miracle?Join former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife, award-winning journalist Sheilah Kast, on an amazing tour of an amazing land-beyond Dracula, beyond orphans, beyond Communism, to the vibrant culture, unique history, and 21st century skills that define modern Romania.More than a travelogue or memoir, Dracula Is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged Since 1989 as the New Italy presents Romania through American eyes, taking you with Jim and Sheilah as they discover a remarkable country of boundless hospitality, brilliant skills, and a bright future in a peaceful Europe.A strong, creative, charming, democratic nation following years of dictatorship and isolation, Romania really is the new Italy.See for yourself.

30 review for Dracula is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged since 1989 as the new Italy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alyce (At Home With Books)

    Prior to reading Dracula Is Dead I had very little knowledge of Romania. I knew that Romanian is a romance language (thanks to my high school Spanish teacher) and I have heard of the Carpathian Mountains (thanks to the Left Behind series). I also have a vague recollection of hearing about the orphans of Romania when I was a teenager. The funny thing is that Dracula isn't one of the first things to pop into my mind when I think of Romania, so this title was a little bit cryptic to me at first. Th Prior to reading Dracula Is Dead I had very little knowledge of Romania. I knew that Romanian is a romance language (thanks to my high school Spanish teacher) and I have heard of the Carpathian Mountains (thanks to the Left Behind series). I also have a vague recollection of hearing about the orphans of Romania when I was a teenager. The funny thing is that Dracula isn't one of the first things to pop into my mind when I think of Romania, so this title was a little bit cryptic to me at first. Thank goodness for the subtitle though! As subtitles go it's a long one, but it does a great job of detailing what you will find in this book. Each of the facts and topics that I knew about and many, many more are discussed in Dracula is Dead. This book covers a lot of information. At times it reads like a memoir, as Sheilah and Jim relate their experiences with the people of Romania. Elsewhere time is spent describing the culture and the lay of the land. When historic figures are mentioned the authors usually give some pertinent details of the person's past and their place in Romanian history. The authors also try to help the reader understand the politics past and present of Romania (some of which is very confusing). The book is divided geographically - each chapter dealing with a different region that Sheilah and Jim visited. I especially enjoyed reading the chapter on Transylvania about Vlad Tepes, the man who was the basis for Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was interesting to learn that for a long time the people of Romania hadn't heard of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and that Vlad Tepes was a bit of a folk hero to some Romanians. Here are some of the other things I learned: * I was astonished to learn that the visit of Pope John Paul II to Romania in 1999 was the first of a Roman Catholic Pope to an Orthodox country in over 900 years. * The AIDS epidemic had a huge effect on the orphans in Romania. * There are 4th of July celebrations in Romania. * Bram Stoker's notes on his book Dracula "indicate he originally created a villain named Count Wampyr from Styria, in Austria." (Page 146) * Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, a town in Romania. I am partial to memoirs, so this book shines the brightest for me in the personal stories of the interactions that Sheilah and Jim had with the Romanians. However, for anyone interested in the political history of Romania there is a lot to like too.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathrina

    This is an ideal companion for any Romanian tourist. Kast and Rosapepe paint a broad picture of contemporary life in Romania, twenty years into its present democracy. Rosapepe, as a former US ambassador, approaches contemporary controversies from an American perspective, but with a Romanian empathy. The book is organized as a series of anecdotes across each region of the country, therefore the flow is a bit choppy, ranging page to page from local politics, ethnic diversity, the crisis of Romania This is an ideal companion for any Romanian tourist. Kast and Rosapepe paint a broad picture of contemporary life in Romania, twenty years into its present democracy. Rosapepe, as a former US ambassador, approaches contemporary controversies from an American perspective, but with a Romanian empathy. The book is organized as a series of anecdotes across each region of the country, therefore the flow is a bit choppy, ranging page to page from local politics, ethnic diversity, the crisis of Romanian orphans, to a short synopsis of Vlad Tepes. But all of the information is interesting and necessary to the whole picture that is Romania today. And nothing I've read has been in contrast with anything I have experienced myself. I have been mostly in Transylvania, and have found Rosapepe's description of the mostly peaceful but evident tension between Romanians and Hungarians accurate. Also, there is no question that education is a huge priority in this culture, and the drive for multilingual and computer proficient graduates has created perhaps the country's greatest export.(Unfortunate that so many are leaving the country to find work, but at least their salaries may come home to support the Romanian economy, as well as many Romanians finding online jobs supported by foreign companies.) I found a lot of helpful information here for the Romanian tourist, from important places I'd like to visit, to understanding the complicated game of hospitality (bring gifts and expect tuica). I toured the country rather extensively 11 years ago, but so much has changed in this last decade, that this book was more helpful than my own dwindling memory of the way things had been. Romania has progressed, and though most Romanians will find things to complain about in their current democratic government, they are now similar to the complaints of Americans concerning our own democracy (the world-wide economic recession certainly hasn't helped)and Romania has so much to be proud of concerning its own autonomy and prosperity gained in just two short decades. Of course, fear for the future exists; I met a couple who had just finished construction of a 22 room 4 star hotel located near Bran Castle. They expected to take advantage of the burgeoning tourism surrounding the Dracula mythology. Business was good until the end of 2008 with the economic recession. Tourism is not so strong as everyone has become more careful with their money. The couple says that during communism their lives were easier, with guaranteed vacations and shorter work hours. They had more time for family, but they were not free. Now they are free, but must spend all of their time building and promoting their business, and can give themselves no free time for their family or relaxation. And the fear of bankruptcy is real as the recession continues. The government has just this year required a new, hefty tax for all small business owners, and the tax is based on their previous year's earnings. This year's business is not nearly as successful, and they worry how they will afford the tax. It's too bad that entrepreneurs are being "punished" for the risks they've taken to promote their capitalist enterprise. But, American that I am, I am hopeful...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thierry

    Very good book, a nice description of what the ambassador of the USA in Romania found out during his tenure in Bucarest. Well written, full of facts. Great read for anyone interested in post-communist Romania.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Great overview of Romania, with personal anecdotes, history, culture and background of the current (as of 2009) political climate. This was updated in 2014, though I could only get the older edition from my public library.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris Wares

    I stumbled across this book by accident and didn't have great hopes for it but in fact it is a great book. Written by former US Ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife Sheilah Kast, a journalist this book gives an interesting perspective on Romania in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Rosapepe's position as US Ambassador gave him unique access to the key players in modern Romania and his position as a professional "outsider" in Romanian politics meant that his account was accessible to the I stumbled across this book by accident and didn't have great hopes for it but in fact it is a great book. Written by former US Ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife Sheilah Kast, a journalist this book gives an interesting perspective on Romania in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Rosapepe's position as US Ambassador gave him unique access to the key players in modern Romania and his position as a professional "outsider" in Romanian politics meant that his account was accessible to the lay reader. They also got to visit all over the place and made good use of their time to get to know the country. The book flips between first person ("Jim", "Sheilah") and third person ("We") which initially I found really irritating but once I got beyond the first chapter the chapters didn't jump so much. You can see why they chose to take this approach - the book is well written and obviously largely by the hand of Kast but Rosapepe, being the ambassador gets to have most (but not all) of the insightful meetings. In the normal situation a ghost writer would have just taken a silent back seat but in a marriage of equals it is right that Kast is given her own voice. Surprisingly, as well as describing modern Romania, the book also gives a good account of some historical events which were both informative and more clearly described than I have read elsewhere.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    "In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism. Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union. What’s the story of the Romanian miracle? Join former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife, award-winning journalist Sheilah Kast, on an amazing tour of an amazing land—beyond Dracula, beyond orphans, beyond Communism, to the vibrant "In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism. Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union. What’s the story of the Romanian miracle? Join former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and his wife, award-winning journalist Sheilah Kast, on an amazing tour of an amazing land—beyond Dracula, beyond orphans, beyond Communism, to the vibrant culture, unique history, and 21st Century skills which define modern Romania."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    An interesting overview of Romania - good for those with little previous knowledge of the country, as facts are often repeated throughout the book. It's important to recognize that the authors are rather biased towards Romania, and present it in a much more positive light than other surrounding countries that are discussed. it is important to realize that the book is written with a pro-Romania agenda, and that some of the more upsetting parts of Romania's past have been glossed over.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kaigham

    A broad-brush introduction to modern Romania as seen from the eyes of two curious and engaged people who had the honor of representing the United States. Well-written narrative with compelling personal stories that bring an important but forgotten country/people back on our radar. I hope all of our Ambassadors and spouses are like Sheilah and Jim.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Freyja Vanadis

    This book wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it anyway. I thought it would be more about the history of Romania; instead it was a narrative of this American couple's adventures while living there as the US Ambassador and his wife. Still, it was a nice insight into how the Romanian people of today live.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Good book on the history of Romania coming out of communism. It gave me a good feel for the people and culture. I read it in honor of Emily while she is in Romania for the summer. I always feel the need to read something "light" after a communism book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erika Ostergaard

    Overly optimistic gloss of disjointed anecdotes that say much about cutsy culture but nothing about realistic motivations or reasons for them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heliana

    Entertaining and spot on.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Whitaker

    A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    wow. this could have been a really interesting book, but it was so so so boring and poorly written it was painful to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As heard on "Maryland Morning" on WYPR. As heard on "Maryland Morning" on WYPR.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaylin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ana Seicarescu

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gene

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dagny Taggert

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Collins

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Groves

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve Kennedy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan Niedbalski

  29. 5 out of 5

    Felix Mocanu

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elena Richard

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