Marci Shore

    is an American scholar, assistant professor of European cultural and intellectual history at Yale University. She is the author of the books Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968 (2006) and The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totaliarianism in Eastern Europe (2013). “One of the things I feel strongly about in writing the history of ‚communism after communism‘ is that good history should do what good literature does: it should enable the reader to make a leap of imagination into a time and a place he or she most likely was not. In fiction, writers talk of a ‘suspension of disbelief.’ You should be transported to this time and place where you yourself were not. You should be able to hear and see and smell what it was like, you should try to be able to imagine yourself there to the extent it is possible. What I’ve tried to illuminate through this suspension of disbelief is precisely the complexity of any given moment in the past. Of all the past 15 years that I have spent running around Eastern Europe and working in the archives there are very, very few cases of people I have come across who were purely evil or purely good. People tend to fall somewhere in the middle. People tend to have shades of grey. People tend to have an extraordinary capacity to forgive and to betray, to be selfish and to be selfless, often in very unpredictable ways.“