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Book Review: Good-bye, Dracula!: The Story of a Transylvanian Defector by Traian Nicola

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Good-Bye, Dracula! by Traian Nicola details his life in Communist Romania. He discusses his childhood, his adolescence, his career, and ultimately his defection. His goal is to demonstrate through his life story that Communism is best left in the past and that it is not a viable form of government. I think that Nicola is successful in carrying out his goal; it is a firsthand account of a childhood and life that has been tainted by Communism. Not to mention that there is not much writing on Eastern European countries during Communism and World War II, and as the daughter of WWII survivors I find the topic of European History during that era a must read, especially when firsthand accounts.

Nicola writes well, especially considering that English is not his first language. I would say that this book is for those who are interested in politics and history, more for a mature audience. I personally can relate to Nicola’s story for my parents grew up in Italy when fascism was their form of government. I was personally drawn to his story and how he and most people viewed communism. When he was younger, it was all a joke and it was just the way things were. However, slowly, as he saw how limited his choices were, did Nicola understand the full burden of communism.

What most people usually focus on when discussing communism is its theory, but few really know how communism is executed; what fascinated me was learning about Romania’s policies. For example, if you wanted to travel they would ask who your family was, so that they could hold them hostage because many people would want to leave Romania and the only way that they could was through traveling to other countries. So in order to insure that they would not run away, the Romanian government would know where your family lived and who they were so that they could threaten them.

Overall, Good-Bye, Dracula! by Traian Nicola is a fascinating memoir of a time and place that has been forgotten by most. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history or who just wants to learn something new about old times.

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About Susan Vio

  • Victoria, make sure to read Ms. Vio’s review (and the book) of Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance by Charles Novacek. Lots of true Cold War intrigue with Charles and his uncle Josef Robotka, a high level resistance leader later executed by the Communists for treason.

  • victoria dougherty

    Thanks, Susan. I’m sold. I’m also from the ultimate Cold War family, so I love this stuff (and by ultimate I mean backyard firing squads, enemies of the state, communist snitches, secret Jews, secret Jew-hiders – you name it.) If you want to chat about Nicolai and Elena Ceausescu – see my valentine blog about their love story (no, I’m not plugging myself here – I actually want to have a conversation. Old-fashioned, I know). Anyway, if you’re interested: http://www.victoriadougherty.wordpress.com