Democracy at Dawn: Notes from Poland and Points East
by Frederick Quinn
From the sweeping changes of democratic reform to the bloody conflict of the Chechen Republic, 1993-95 was a tumultuous time for Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. During that two-year period, Frederick Quinn traveled the former Soviet empire as head of the rule of law programs of the Warsaw Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). His primary task was to help the new nations of the region write new constitutions and rebuild their judicial systems. Keenly aware of the uniqueness of the history he was witnessing unfold, Quinn took notes of his experiences. The result is Democracy at Dawn--a vividly written personal, firsthand account of hope and nascent political and social freedom in a part of the world filled with vivid contrasts--drab cities and lively people, dedicated reformers and traditional governments.
Quinn recounts the difficulties of many of of the countries, as governmental and judicial habits held over from communist regimes, lack of equipment and supplies, shortages of food and services, and, in the case of the Chechen Republic, a devastating civil war all conspire against the formation of pluralistic democracies. He cites frustrating bureaucratic problems, both with the various host governments as well as with the administration of OSCE and ODIHR. Quinn also recalls in fascinating detail his encounters with the new leaders of the region, such as Georgia's Edouard Shevardnadze.
At the core of this powerful memoir is Quinn's admiration for the many people he encountered, from working men and women to the functionaries at the highest levels of government, who share a desire for democracy and constitutionality--alien concepts that they nevertheless desperately want to realize. And, despite daunting obstacles faced by the former communist-bloc countries, Quinn asserts that the case for democracy may be more hopeful than it might at first appear. Public discussion about new forms of government is widespread; intense media scrutiny is helping contain the ambitions of authoritarian leaders in check; nongovernmental civic organizations are growing; and the international community has taken increased interest in holding the new states to treaty commitments involving human rights, free elections, and the creation of independent judiciaries.
Engaging and informative reading for the general reader interested in the new states of Central and Eastern Europe, Democracy at Dawn also offers sociologists, historians, and political scientists a valuable inside look at the rise of democracy in Easter Europe and the fall of the Iron Curtain. It also will be of interest to judicial scholars concerned with the development of constitutional systems in new democracies.
"The book should take its place alongside such modern classics as Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon and Robert Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts."
A.E. DICK HOWARD, University of Virginia
FREDERICK QUINN is a legal historian, career Foreign Service officer, and writer who received his Ph.D. in History from UCLA in 1970. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Publishing House: Texas A&M University Press, College Station 1997
HardCover book measuring 6.25" x 9.25"
272 pages, 15 b/w photographs, index
English Language Version
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