Here is an essential short guide to the history of Eastern Europe under the early decades of communist rule. The study explores the communists attempt to transpose a uniform economic and social system across the region copied from the Soviet model. Dr Fowkes shows how this did not always succeed and he reveals the local variations which became more pronounced after the death of Stalin. The book includes detailed analysis of the dramatic events in Poland and Hungary and in the assessment section there is a useful summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the communist model in its heyday. It is an illuminating study, full of maps and photographs as well as over 30 documents (most previously unavailable in English) which brings this complex subject alive. and helps us to understand the special conditions the people of the region have faced in catching up with the West both in terms of material prosperity and more recently in the establishment of democratic political systems.