In Search of Romania
Paints a portrait of Romania under Communist dictatorship, from political twists and turns to daily life and daring dissent in an unfree state.
The imposition of Communist ideology was a misfortune for millions in Eastern Europe, but never for Dennis Deletant. Instead, it drew him to Romania. The renowned historian’s association with the country and its people dates back to 1965, when he first visited. Since then, Romania has made Dennis appreciate the value of shrewd dissimulation, in the face of the state’s gross intrusion in the life of the individual. This vivid memoir charts his first-hand experience of the Communist era, coloured by the early 1970s surveillance of his future wife Andrea; his contacts with dissidents; and his articles and BBC World Service broadcasts, which led to his being declared persona non grata in 1988.
In Search of Romania also considers how life went on under dictatorship, even if it was largely mapped out by the regime. How did individual citizens negotiate the challenges placed in their path? How important was the political police, the Securitate, in maintaining compliance? How did dissent towards the regime manifest? How did all this affect the moral compass of the individual? Why did utopia descend into dystopia under Ceaușescu? And how has his legacy influenced the difficult transition to democracy since the collapse of Communism?
‘Deletant approaches his decades-long relationship with the country with the precision of a scholar… In Search of Romania is a tribute to the individuals who were brave enough to stand up to the communist regime.’ — Times Literary Supplement
‘In Search of Romania invites readers to ponder life under Ceaușescu’s dictatorship, with all the challenges individuals had to face, the role of oppressive institutions like the political police Securitate, and the legacy of that era in the country’s transition to democracy.’ — Romania Insider
‘Deletant has been perhaps the leading academic expert on Romania since the dark days of Nicolae Ceaușescu, when he showed remarkable courage in standing up against the dictatorship. He has watched with affection and deep insight as the country has changed and developed since. His relationship with Romania is fascinating, and this book is essential reading for everyone who wants to understand it.’ — John Simpson CBE, World Affairs Editor, BBC News
‘No foreign academic in recent decades has pursued the horrors and riches of twentieth-century Romanian history to the degree of Deletant. Romania is truly his subject, one that he has researched with great exactitude.’ — Robert D. Kaplan, author of In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond
‘With the mastery of a storyteller and a historian’s sense for precision, Deletant gives an enthralling account of communist and post-communist Romania. By evoking dissidents, writers, communist leaders and their opponents, the book reminds us of the moral obligation to condemn totalitarianism and defend freedom and democracy–for it is hard to heal the scars of a repressive regime.’ — Professor Andrei Muraru, historian, and Ambassador of Romania to the United States of America
‘Deletant has long been recognised as a leading authority on the history of Romania, decorated by both the British and Romanian governments. This long-awaited memoir does not disappoint, covering a lifetime of engagement with this fascinating country, from run-ins with the Securitate to his work in helping to realise the moving Sighet memorial to the victims of Communism. An informative and delightful read.’ — Paul Brummell, British Ambassador to Romania 2014–2018
‘An extraordinary book by an outstanding historian who understands Romania better than many Romanians. Analytical yet never dry, rich with captivating autobiographical details and humorous in tone, this will undoubtedly captivate readers.’ — Radu Ioanid, Ambassador of Romania to Israel; Holocaust historian, and former director, US Holocaust Museum
Dennis Deletant OBE is Emeritus Professor at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He was formerly the Visiting Ion Rațiu Professor of Romanian Studies at Georgetown University. His previous books include Ceaușescu and the Securitate and Communist Terror in Romania, both published by Hurst.