Good-bye, Dracula! by Traian Nicola, USA, 2012

Good-bye, Dracula! by Traian Nicola, USA, 2012

This is definitely no literary masterpiece, but it is an important historical document. Nicola, who was born in Romania at the end of the 1940s, writes about what it was like growing up, and eventually entering the workforce, in a communist country. After tertiary studies he worked for the Romanian Intelligence Service, hoping that it would give him a chance to travel abroad, and in 1979 he and his family defected to the USA. His work with the Intelligence Service gave him an insight into the internal workings of the Party and the degree of corruption that it comprised. Years later when asked, were it possible to live his life over, if he would have chosen the same career path, he answered in the negative.

The book is written more or less in chronological order and each chapter is a collection of thoughts and reminiscences from that particular period of Nicola’s life. It is a little like sitting down with the author over a cup of coffee where recollections fall over one another, some absurdly short, others more detailed. Oftentimes the events do not join together as other, possibly more important, events are remembered and are slotted in, somewhat out of order.

Image of Traian Nicola from filme carte

However, style and structure to one side, Nicola manages to give a remarkable picture of Romania from 1947, when King Michael was exiled by the Romanian Communist Party (with help from Moscow), through to the fall of the Berlin Wall (when a handful of Communist Party officials grabbed all of the country’s assets for themselves). It is filled with many sad images of poverty, deprivation and fear balanced against Nicola’s obvious love of the Romanian countryside, the Romanian people and Romanian culture.

It is a frightening testimony as to what can happen when power-hungry, ignorant, uneducated people put themselves in charge. Communism may be ‘dead’, but the same kind of people still exist. Good-bye, Dracula! should act as a warning to all of us, and as such it is definitely worthwhile reading.

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