Lithuania - Independent Again: The Autobiography of Vytautas Landsbergis
|ISBN: 9780708314548 (0708314546)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Gorffennaf 2000 |
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CaerdyddAddaswyd/Cyfieithwyd gan Anthony Packer, Eimutis Sova.Fformat: Clawr Caled, 400 tudalen
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Addasiad Saesneg o hunangofiant Vytautas Landsbergis, arweinydd ysbrydoledig y mudiad dros annibyniaeth i Lithuania, 1988-91, arlywydd cyntaf Lithuania annibynnol ôl-Rwsaidd a chadeirydd presennol senedd y wlad, yn cynnwys hanes cynhyrfus digwyddiadau tyngedfennol a chofiadwy yn y frwydr dros annibyniaeth. 31 ffotograff du-a-gwyn.
An English adaptation of the autobiography of Vytautas Landsbergis the inspired leader of the Lithuanian independence movement, 1988-91, first president of independent, post-Soviet Lithuania and present chairman of the country's parliament, comprising a moving account of the momentous and memorable events in the struggle for independence. 31 black-and-white photographs.
This work of the first President of newly-independent Lithuania is absorbing reading for several reasons. Firstly, it illuminates most vividly the experience of culturally-driven national revival in a small East European nation, so condensed in the Lithuanian case that the authors father grew up as the initial pre-1914 awakening matured to statehood, saw interwar independence, Nazi occupation and exile from Soviet Lithuania before returning to contribute to reawakening and restored sovereignty by 1991. Through the families of his architect father and doctor mother and his own struggles as a musicologist to rehabilitate the composer and painter Ciurlionis, Landsbergis shows how a talented, dedicated intelligentsia emerged from the peasantry and semi-Polonised gentry of a submerged nation, only to suffer the stifling drabness, cruelty and hypocrisy of Soviet Lithuania. Some were driven to suicide, some to Landsbergiss resolute and moving belief in the importance of `deeper human values and their abiding role in `the human condition and the struggle for justice.
Secondly, these memoirs grippingly narrate the tactics of Landsbergiss movement Sajudis from its formation in 1988, in the face of a complacent and ideologically exhausted Soviet establishment led by Mikhail Gorbachev, whom Landsbergis castigates as a product of the system he claimed to reform. Most thought-provoking is the charge that Gorbachev had no real comprehension of democratic accountability (Landsbergiss to his people) but like his colleagues believed `a suitable formula . . . to deal with the immediate situation, permitted them to fool a people for ever. The irony is that many disillusioned westerners would think Gorbachev had thereby assimilated the statecraft of the western leadership club he sought to join more correctly than the high-minded Landsbergis. But Landsbergis was proved right; the politics of would-be democracies cannot be permanently fudged, at least on fundamental issues. When the Lithuanians stuck to their guns and the Soviets over-reacted, Gorbachevs assumption that the West would back him against `separatism was unfounded.
That Landsbergis too had something to learn about democracy in practice, however, is shown by his movements electoral defeat by the (renamed) Lithuanian communists under Brazauskas in 1992. This is the books third fascination, the tantalising glimpse it offers of the other side of Lithuanian and by extension any nations life, that of the people who for whatever reason put accommodation with the powers that be above the astringent call to national autonomy and dignity which Landsbergis represents. Only someone with access to Brazauskass side of the story could judge how far Landsbergiss asperity towards this follower of Gorbachev, who seems to have walked crab-wise to independence, is justified. But anyone inclined to dismiss Vytautas Landsbergis as a `right-wing nationalist should first read this impressive and powerful statement of what it felt like to be a morally-responsible individual in a small nation under the Soviet yoke.
Dr Robin Okey
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Lithuania - Independent Again
The Autobiography of Vytautas Landsbergis
Prepared for an English-speaking audience by Anthony Packer and Eimutis Sova
pp xii387 Demy 8vo February 1999 hardback
This autobiography firmly places Landsbergis in the center of efforts to regain Lithuania's independence from the Soviet Union . . . His account allows one to relive the heady process of Sajudis's outmaneuvering not only the Communist Party of Lithuania, but also the Soviet Congress and Mikhail Gorbachev. Landsbergis's confrontational style is evident throughout . . . he certainly shows the heroic aspects of recent Lithuanian history. (Choice)
. . . this is an important book, the first memoir by one of the Lithuanian political leaders to appear in
English. Landsbergis held a notable place on the world stage in 1990 and 1991, and historians should take note of his own explanation of his politics . . . (Polish Review)
'Apart from its documentary value and the insights it affords into the personality of the author, this book is also significant because it prompts suggestions for further research into some of the themes or problems raised here.' (H-Net Review)
work of the first President of newly-independent Lithuania is absorbing reading . . . (gwales.com)
The dramatic events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius were crucial not only for the re-emergence of an independent Lithuania but for the break-up of the Soviet Union. Thousands of unarmed Lithuanians rallied to defend their Parliament against the encircling Soviet tanks and outside the TV tower several were crushed beneath their tracks. The
television pictures flashed around the world revealed the reality of Gorbachov's Soviet Union and stirred the world's conscience.
In this book Vytautas Landsbergis, the first president of the new independent Lithuania, who led his people on that memorable night, retraces the process which led to
those events and to the eventual admission of Lithuania into the United Nations: the shifting positions of Gorbachov and Yeltsin, the attitudes of George Bush, Mrs Thatcher, Mitterand, the solidarity with the other Baltic states, the struggle between old Communists and new democrats within Lithuania and the machinations of the KGB.
Landsbergis was born into a family of Lithuanian patriots and traces the influences upon himself as he grew up during the German and Soviet occupations. His interest in music and the arts generally (he was Professor of Music History and taught at the Vilnius Conservatoire) deepened his awareness and appreciation of Lithuanian culture and led him step by step into political life.
Besides being an impassioned personal statement and an essential document for historians of the last days of the Soviet Empire, this autobiography offers a unique insight into the life and capacity for survival of a small culture caught in the web of big-power politics.
Today Vytautas Landsbergis is Chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas or Parliament.
Eimutis Sova was Chairman of the Wales Baltic Society and Anthony Packer was formerly Lecturer at the School of Education, University of Wales Cardiff.
Available in North America from the University of Washington Press.
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