A contemporary analysis of the people, cultures, and society within the regions that make up Eastern Europe.
The volumes are divided by region: Northern Tier (Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania); Central Europe (formerly under the Habsburg Empire--Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia); and Southeastern Europe (formerly under the Ottoman Empire--Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia--Hercegovina, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece). Entries are organized by country and authored by scholars. Each volume begins with the same preface, introduction, and nine black-and-white maps delineating the political, cultural, and territorial changes over the past millennium. Only volume 3 contains an index, which covers all three volumes and is useful for finding references (for example, Marshall Plan, Roman Catholic Church) across various countries. Entries are interspersed with black-and-white period photographs as well as informational boxes focusing on topics such as "The Polish Language," "The Holocaust in Latvia," and "Vlad III Dracula."
Each country entry has subsections for "Land and People," "History," "Political Developments," "Cultural Development," "Economic Development," and "Contemporary Challenges," as well as a selective bibliography and a chronology. Average entry length is more than 50 pages. The history sections tend to be by far the longest, while the political sections are often the most obtuse, mainly because of the nebulous nature of the political history of many of these countries. A user is unlikely to find a summary of the history and politics of any of these countries with this much detail without reading a full-length text.
Overall, this is an excellent and informative reference work that subverts many of the myths of a backward and undeveloped region and replaces them with rich, varied portrayals of human achievement and sociopolitical complexity. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.