• In Europe's Shadow

  • Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond
  • By: Robert D. Kaplan
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Bucharest, Romania's capital, Kaplan discovered that few Westerners were reporting on the country - one of the darkest corners of Europe during the Cold War. In an intense and cinematic travelogue, Kaplan explores the history and culture of the only country in the West where the leading intellectuals have been right-wing rather than left-wing; a country that gave rise to the dictator Ion Antonescu, Hitler's chief foreign accomplice during WWII; a country where the Latin West mixes with the Greek East, producing a fascinating fusion of cultures.

In Europe's Shadow is a deep and vivid immersion into one place, a country that is a metaphor for Europe's current challenge in confronting Vladimir Putin's Russia. With the brilliant, insightful Kaplan as our narrator and eyewitness, this book is a shorthand masterpiece about imperialism and a country critical to our understanding of the last century in Europe.

Robert D. Kaplan is the author of 16 books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, Balkan Ghosts, and Warrior Politics. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Atlantic for over three decades. In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named Kaplan among the world's "100 Top Global Thinkers".

©2016 Robert D. Kaplan. Random House, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about In Europe's Shadow

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wrestling with History

Robert D. Kaplan has chosen to focus his career on understanding Romania and surrounding countries. Why? Because he pretty much had the area to himself, he says, while others were focusing on the Middle East and other hotspots. Nobody spent time in Bucharest, much less Moldova or the other nearby territories. This could be used as an excuse for a shallow, touristy overview of the region, but Kaplan has ended up writing a book with depth and thoughtfulness.

Kaplan focuses on Romania from the 1930s through World War II, Communism and the fall of the Soviet Union. He philosophizes at length on the meaning of nationalism, ethnic identity and individualism. He writes coolly about the horrors that have been visited upon the country and its people, by both the fascist leadership in World War II and the Communists under Ceaucescu and his predecessor--as well as invaders in prior centuries. He repeatedly returns to the risks facing Romania today, primarily from Vladimir Putin's Russia, which seeks to destabilize its neighbors to prevent them from allying too strongly with the West or becoming a threat to Russian power.

While the book is dense with ideas, it is not always easy listening. I frequently found my attention wandering as Kaplan described the works of yet another scholar or his visit to yet another Romanian town. Listening to the book, you miss the illustrations which might provide some color. (I sometimes went online to look at the maps to see where he was--but that's not easy when you are listening in a car.)

Paul Boehmer, the narrator, did an excellent job with pronunciations (I assume), but his style was somewhat dry, like a college professor giving the same lectures for the tenth time.

9 people found this helpful

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Deep dive interweaving Romanianhistory & modernity

This was a fantastic interweaving of Romania history and contemporary reality. Highly recommended for anyone inserted in European studies.

5 people found this helpful

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Poorly organized, strange reader.

The writing is extremely disorganized. Impossible to keep up with Kaplan's ideas as he skips around points in history and overlays them with experience and travel stories in no logical order.

4 people found this helpful

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Sorely Disappointed

What would have made In Europe's Shadow better?

More empirical events and description. Here, he looks at his hotel room and out the window or, 30 years later, drives through the countryside but apparently not talking with anyone.

Has In Europe's Shadow turned you off from other books in this genre?

I recently read 2 other Kaplan books, Monsoon, and Asia's Cauldron. Both were informative and interesting. They helped set a historical context to help interpret modern-day events. Europe's Shadow does little of that. Instead it sounds like a nostalgic memoir of Kaplan's early days as a reporter -- with memories or musings only of interest to the author.
For any future Kaplan books, I'll read carefully the 1-star and 2-star ratings. Fool me once ... etc.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Yes, he did detract. This book was tedious, slow going, and this narrator didn't help. A more conversational tone of voice, with a bit less drama, would have made it more tolerable. But truthfully, no narrator could overcome the book's basic tedium.

What character would you cut from In Europe's Shadow?

The long, tedious descriptions of earlier historians and philosophers. Those passages could be written just by going to the library, not to Romania. This is a book of reflections (and some reminiscing) not first-hand observations.

Any additional comments?

Wasted my credit on this one.

4 people found this helpful

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  • KS
  • 09-18-16

Outstanding essay on Romania and the author's experiences of the East

This is a fantastic book, more of an essay than a historical narrative. With the history are peppered stories of the author's previous travels to Romania, and rumination on morality, nationalism, war, and identity. Allusions to other academics, historians, and philosophers are plentiful. I highly recommend.

The narration is terrible. It sounds chopped and stitched back together. By far the sloppiest editing ice encountered on audible. I hope they re-record because it is a story worth telling (sans distraction).

1 person found this helpful

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narration and postproduction at its worst

narration with pauses in mid sentences and postproduction variation of speed seems a comedy book

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Great book, poor recording

I have listened this book 4 times. The author does a great job, presenting a rather objective image of Romania and its history. The country indeed suffered a lot due to its location. The tragedies of the 20th century with all the horrors that happened, the legionnaires, then the communists are unimaginable today. We need not forget those horrors and we need to protect Europe from falling back to its violent past. I have enjoyed as well the fact that the book is presented as a travel journal, similar in a way to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The recording is terrible, I don’t understand what is happening why does is sound so bad. The voice is mechanical and unnatural at times. The non English words are completely wrongly pronounced. There are many names of people and places and books, etc. which are butchered. This affects not only the Romania or Hungarian words but also the French and German ones. I hope that this book is re-recorded. It is a pity because the book is rather good.

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Excellent introd. to Romania and history writing.

A very rich book, not only about Romania and its history, but also about life and
career of a journalist. The book illustrates the importance of making decisions in
your life that appear arbitrarily motivated at first. For example to enter a small
bookstore in King George's, Jerusalem, to buy a second hand
book by an unknown author, and then to follow your destiny after reading that book.
Anyone who reads Kaplan's book understands that books and literature are of topmost importance
for anyone who wants to understand reality,

The narrator Paul Boehmer is doing such a good job, that at moments I was sure that
I listen to the author himself.

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Insightful and useful

Written in a characteristically diffuse and verbose journalistic style but provides many interesting and useful insights.

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Excellent Romania Overview

What did you love best about In Europe's Shadow?

The author had first hand experiences in Romania that were separated by more than 20 years. During that time, the country had dramatically changed.

What was one of the most memorable moments of In Europe's Shadow?

The author noted that as young journalist in Israel, he had no status; there were too many great journalists. When he arrived in Romania (before Perestroika) he was one of just a handful of Western writers covering the country. He reflected on living in a hostel while interviewing senior government officials.

What about Paul Boehmer’s performance did you like?

The performance was well done; this is complicated material that Paul Boehner brought to life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-19-21

Trite, not worth the time

Extremely boring, bringing nothing to the table apart from a basic travel log. God knows what the author filled 10 hours with, I could only stomach 1.5.

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  • North Yorkshire
  • 12-27-20

Brilliant mix of history and travelogue

This is Kaplan's 3rd book on Southeast Europe - oddly none of them really overlap. He set the bar high with Balkan Ghosts, raised it in the excellent Eastward to Tartary and now matches both books with In Europe's Shadow. His books tend to be based around his own travels in the region, but his distinctive contribution is to provide a wider historical and cultural context for the political, economic and social conditions he encounters in each particular nation or region. As several reviewers note the historical background does tend to crowd out the travelogue part, which is used to help structure and sequence his mini historical studies - though his interviews do tie in nicely and help manage the pacing for the reader/listener.

Kaplan writes really clearly and has a great understanding of how to pitch his content - we learn a lot but never feel like we are in a lecture. I always enjoy his work. The narration seemed fine to me - not sure why a few reviewers took against it.

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  • ANON
  • 01-05-20

terrible narration

really poor narrator, difficult to listen to. sounds like the guy had never read the book before being recorded. or he's a robot.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • leonard iancu
  • 12-08-19

Brilliant

Everyone interested in the Romanian history, every Romanian on Audiobook should listen to it. Written by someone who obviously loves Romania and it's people. Some uncomfortable truths, a geopolitical analysis of Romania's position in Europe.

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  • P GEAMANU
  • 09-06-18

A Yelp Review of Romania

A book version of a Yelp review by a author than comes off as biased on multiple occasions. If you're looking for facts and history, this is not it. But if you're looking for a single person's brief experieces in Romania and a mixture of facts and biases, please buy it. A great part of this book describes the authors 10 days spent in romania during the cold war... in the rest of the book, the Jewish author, spends a great deal of time picking apart Iliade's (a well known Nazi lover)previous history books. Enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ovidiu
  • 08-25-17

The hard truth!

Past, present and a possible future due to the geopolitical location of Romania. A book that you should read/listen even if you are the biggest Romanian nationalist!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • amotherandstudent
  • 06-03-17

Fascinating history lesson

clearly written by someone who knows and loves Romania. fascinating and easy to listen to.

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  • Martin
  • 06-07-18

Super interesting!

This is a super interesting and highly engaging history of Romania. For those who seek to understand the region and Europe a little better, this is an essential listen!