Abstract

Marjorie Castle's volume in the Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series, Triggering Communism's Collapse: Perceptions and Power in Poland's Transition, discusses events in the late 1980s that induced the leaders of the Polish Communist party to open negotiations with senior opposition figures, including the head of the still-banned Solidarity trade union. Preliminary talks in 1988 led to agreement on the holding of Round Table talks, which formally began on 6 February 1989 and ended two months later, on 5 April 1989, with arrangements to hold partly free parliamentary elections in early June. Contrary to the expectations of both the regime and the opposition, those elections resulted in an overwhelming victory for Solidarity, starting a chain of events that led to the formation of the first non-Communist government in a Soviet-bloc country since 1948. Three distinguished experts on Poland comment on Castle's analysis of Poland's transition and offer their own assessments of the importance and legacy of the Round Table talks.

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