Cold War Book Review Essay, Research Paper
Political and economic perspectives should not dominate the analysis of communist rule. Analysis of the social aspects and results of communist rule are necessary to achieve a full understanding of the effects of such government. Slavenka Drakulic produced How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, an appealing work with this fresh social approach. This nonfiction work combines the author s own recollections with the stories of other women of the Eastern Bloc.
Drakulic, a renowned journalist and writer, utilizes her keen eye for detail and truth in this quest that shows how communism has devastating effects on the common citizen. She provides insight into the conditions of life for women within a communist system. Several points of view from those living under such a regime are documented in this collection of 19 essays. The author highlights the unimportant aspects of life and how they are important as symbols of recurring injustice under this communist regime in Eastern Europe.
Her travels to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and East Germany result in adequate research of several personalities and experiences. This extensive research abroad, coupled with Drakulic s own background experiences, provides a solid groundwork for the author s thesis. However, any amount of research cannot surmount to the experiences Drakulic faced growing up with the lifestyle that comes with communist rule.
If she is discussing the perils of doing laundry or the conversation she had with her censor, Drakulic approaches each aspect of communist control with the same importance. Her stories focus on one topic at a time and colorful descriptions fill the pages. For example, Drakulic describes the influence her new doll had on her childhood ideas of the status of women:
nobody told us why a doll (a girl, a woman)
had to be pretty. We just knew it had to be
so. We painted their little lips and nails bright
red, and dressed them in tight sexy dresses,
even if we didn t know what it was all about
Sometimes I think that at that early age I
learned everything about my sex from these
thin paper dolls or, at least, the basic
knowledge that for a woman it is more
important to have a consciousness of her
body than of her self (Drakulic, 61-62).
Several essays contain this sort of reflection on the author s part. It is important to acknowledge receipt of misinformation in order to break free from the established guidelines and expectations. Drakulic highlights these expectations and argues against them with style. By highlighting the effects of the communist political system on everyday life, she builds an argument filled with proof that the established government needs to make some serious changes.
The fact that Drakulic is a Yugoslav journalist has led to an unavoidable bias in her approach to this topic. However, she maintains objectivity in stating the facts, although she states them in a passionate fashion. This is where her ability as a journalist and writer enter to make a fascinating, readable account. As for her upbringing under communist rule, her bias is imperative in this kind of literary work. The reader is more apt to believe the author who has lived through the subject of their book.
Drakulic s points are easily retrieved in her essays. According to Drakulic, the communist regime could not work as it did. Since citizens were not provided with the basic necessities of daily life, they did not support the communist regime in times of crisis. She supplements this idea with the outrageous stories in How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed.
This book is not a comprehensive or academic study, because it does not intend to serve that purpose. However, it is a documentation of real stories which may be used to supplement some academic investigation. Drakulic s approach is unique since it blends analysis with the aspects of everyday life. Also, it reads like a piece of fiction; it is captivating. The literature of How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed harnesses Drakulic s passion with the communist struggle, and it leaves a memorable mark with its audience.