Pravda Ha Ha: True Travels to the End of Europe

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Product Details

Bloomsbury Publishing
Publish Date
6.3 X 1.3 X 9.5 inches | 1.4 pounds
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About the Author

Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most expressive and adventurous travel writers. His books - which have been translated into a dozen languages - include the Sunday Times bestseller Stalin's Nose, Under the Dragon and Berlin: Imagine a City, which was named a Book of the Year by the Washington Post.


"Recounted in poetic prose with context from pop-history and cultural commentary, MacLean's picaresque adventures include poignant reunions and chance encounters with a colorful cast of characters ranging from intellectuals to proletarians, tycoons to destitute migrants . . . MacLean is a sympathetic and perceptive guide, his characters memorable partly for confirming and sometimes subverting stereotypes." - The New York Times Book Review

"Readable and often grimly entertaining . . . Mr. MacLean has an acute grasp how a people's history can be rewritten to reshape its future." - Wall Street Journal

"A trek through Eastern Europe exposes a region in retrograde, as fragile postwar optimism gives way to predatory capitalism and the reanimation of age-old prejudices." --Booklist, starred review

"[Pravda Ha Ha] does 1984 one better, because the dystopia MacLean describes already exists." --Mark Bowden, Air Mail

"MacLean combines vivid reportage with unabashed soapboxing. The result is an engrossing travelogue that's both trenchantly observant and deeply felt" --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Russia, in MacLean's telling, is a morally diseased place where truth (pravda) has become a joke... he observes that the country's long-running tolerance of political lies has transformed into cultivation of untruth as a form of art, and in a final degradation, to laughter at the very notion of truth. This process, he suggests, has spread over Eastern Europe like a storm front and has left once-hopeful liberalizing states (Hungary, Poland) vulnerable to authoritarian backsliding and manipulation into xenophobia and racism." --American Scholar

"The acclaimed British travel writer and historian retraces his trip after the fall of the Berlin Wall to explore what happened to the hopes and promises of 1989 . . . Featuring his characteristic talent of drawing insight from those he meets, [MacLean] offers fascinating profiles throughout . . . Another engrossing book from an author who is much more than just a travel writer." --Kirkus Reviews

"MacLean's book is immensely readable. The history and politics of Eastern Europe are tackled here with humor and dry wit." --BookPage

"[A] gripping book, part-travelogue, part contemporary history of Europe ... MacLean is an accomplished writer; his immersive prose crackles with wit and wry humour, and captures scenes and personalities with aplomb" --Daniel Beer, Guardian

"[Maclean] writes with heart and draws in readers with his captivating experiences. Fans of travelogs, history buffs, and those with an interest in Russia and the former U.S.S.R. will thoroughly enjoy." --Library Journal

"This is a tremendous thing that MacLean is creating; a new kind of history, in several dimensions and innumerable moods, that adds up to - across the span of his books - a great and continuing work of literature" --Jan Morris

"A gem of a book, informative, companionable, sometimes funny, and wholly original. MacLean must surely be the outstanding, and most indefatigable, traveller-writer of our time" --John le Carré

"No one writes quite like Rory MacLean" --Robert Macfarlane