Journal or Book Title
Journal of Social History
In this provocative book, Paulina Bren brings to life the “stagnant” decades of “nothingness” (4) that followed the 1968 Prague Spring and the failure of a Communist reform movement in Czechoslovakia. Officially called the period of “normalization,” when life was meant to return to “normal” after the upheaval of the reform period and the resulting invasion of the country by Warsaw Pact troops, scholars have not devoted much attention to topics other than dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s. Bren attributes this gap to the immense challenge of writing a history without notable events or transformative conflicts, although by the end of the book, with its bold rereading of the standard history of the period, this characterization seems less apt. Readers will be struck by how uneventful and dreary everyday life appears in the text. Yet the book's cumulative effect is not to simply interrogate this boredom, but rather to emphasize how much more fraught, complex, and laden with cultural meaning these decades were than previously thought.
Zarecor, Kimberly Elman, "Book Review of Paulina Bren. The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after 1968 Prague Spring" (2012). Architecture Publications. 40.