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Publisher's Summary

For hundreds of years, Bulgarian Gypsies trained bears to dance, welcoming them into their families and taking them on the road to perform. In the early 2000s, with the fall of Communism, they were forced to release the bears into a wildlife refuge. But even today, whenever the bears see a human, they still get up on their hind legs to dance.

In the tradition of Ryszard Kapuściński, award-winning Polish journalist, Witold Szabłowski uncovers remarkable stories of people throughout Eastern Europe and in Cuba who, like Bulgaria’s dancing bears, are now free but who seem nostalgic for the time when they were not. His on-the-ground accounts provide a fascinating portrait of social and economic upheaval and a lesson in the challenges of freedom and the seductions of authoritarian rule.

©2018 Witold Szabłowski, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Dancing Bears

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Intelligent, entertaining, & insightful

This collection of stories made me realize how little I know about the Soviet era. The narrator was a perfect fit for this incredibly well-written book. Highly recommend.

3 people found this helpful

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Very interesting book, great narrator.

This book was recommended by NPR and I am so glad I listened to it. Great narrator, interesting facts, easy listening. This book makes you think about the state of world politics and how we are manipulated.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

This book is more of a travel book than anything. Of course there is the underlying story of the dancing bears. An apt metaphor for humans who are taken out of a competitive environment (capitalism) and are subjects of communism. There are those individuals who enjoy and could make a communist system work. Unfortunately they're the minority. While both systems have their faults, ultimately the bears are better off in the wild, and countries are better off with a market system. The narrator is excellent! He really captured the feel of the book. His way of quoting exactly the subjects is refreshing. Although many would consider this book too political, I felt the author told his experiences and let the reader decide. I'm not sure exactly where his personal opinion lies even after listening. This book is well worth the credit.

2 people found this helpful

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Unique

The first part of the book was about the relocation of dancing bears, what happened to the bears and their owners. This part of the book was unique and very very interesting. After that the book fell off a bit. Not enough real depth, although I loved hearing about the bunkers in Albania. Greek names of places and people were badly mispronounced by the reader.

1 person found this helpful

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Mind blowing

you can read the story of the bears and apply this to any area of your life and create a deep analogy of what freedom means to you.

1 person found this helpful