Robert D. Kaplan’s book “In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond” was published in 2016 but its story begins in 1981, in cold and grey communist Romania. It got excellent reviews and does an excellent service by bringing Romania into mainstream reader’s attention, for which I am grateful to Mr. Kaplan.
“In Europe’s Shadow” is loosely constructed around Kaplan’s trips to Romania in 1981 (he was barred from Romania after writing in 1984 of Ceausescu’s destruction of old central Bucharest), 1990 and 2013. A visit that also takes him to the former Soviet republic of Moldova and into Transnistria is added in 2014, after Russia under Vladimir Putin has upended post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe with his annexation of Crimea and actions in eastern Ukraine.
The dates allow Kaplan to trace the arc from brutal Communism to immediate post-revolution — “to see an entire population struggling to recover their self-respect as individuals” — to the near present, when Romania has joined NATO and the European Union, and even its provincial towns, like Sighisoara in Transylvania, are “teeming with tourists.” Spotting “a sumptuous interior” in Sighisoara, Kaplan writes, “Few things scream money and elegance like soft yellow lighting.”
(source: New York Times)
Later in 2016, well respected European-travel personality Rick Steves set the focus on Romania, by publishing an episode (watch below) part of his very successful “Rick Steves’ Europe” TV series.
In Maramures – my Romanian homeland, Rick is joined by Teofil (Teo) Ivanciuc, a local author and guide with in-depth knowledge of the land (check his Romanian language blog about Maramures, and his English-language website).
Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves is America’s most respected authority on European travel. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. As an 18-year-old, Rick began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started his business, Rick Steves’ Europe, which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a staff of 100 full-time, well-travelled employees at his headquarters in Washington state. There he produces more than 50 guidebooks on European travel, America’s most popular travel series on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, a weekly syndicated column, and free travel information available through his travel center and ricksteves.com. Rick Steves’ Europe also runs a successful European tour program. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. His office window overlooks his old junior high school.