Free: Coming of Age at the End of History

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Free: Coming of Age at the End of History

Free: Coming of Age at the End of History

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An interesting book that shows a country fighting for democracy, the challenges faced and how things changed, for not only her family, but for the country as a whole. She finds out the many secrets her family kept, and that their political views had been different from those they were forced to expouse. Lea learns that freedom is sometimes over-rated and that the end of one regime doesn't always mean paradise from the next. She tells us about the infighting, the politics, the Kalashnikov celebrations, the downfall of the finance 'firms' through a massive pyramid investment scandal, and the wholesale flight of Albanians looking to find safety and fortune in Italy or further west. Image Credit: ‘Street scene in Durrës with propaganda posters’ by Robert Schediwy licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

Ik had geen ingang tot de juiste antwoorden omdat ik niet wist hoe ik de juiste vragen moest stellen Indeed, when Prof Ypi teaches Marx today at the LSE, she tells her students that socialism is a theory of human freedom. “Freedom,” she writes, “is not only sacrificed when others tell us what to say, where to go, how to behave. A society that claims to enable people to realise their potential but fails to change the structures that prevent everyone from flourishing, is also oppressive.” She is not indicting the Etonian cabal that run British politics by name, but it is surely implied. What I like about this book is that it feels very genuine. As children, we are inclined to be what we're told to be; to support the regime, to sing the patriotic songs loudest and long for a bigger picture of our dear leader on the mantelpiece. It takes almost half of the book for us to learn that all is not as it seems in the Ypi house. Her mysterious French-speaking grandmother, the coincidence of the family surname and a long-gone leader by the same name. All starts to fall into place.Although the text is not prescriptive - it is a work of philosophy, not a manifesto - it is hard not feel that Ypi's ultimate sympathies lie with Stalinists of her childhood rather than the neoliberals of her adolescence. In some ways, the torturers of Albania's prison camps are painted in more sympathetic colours than her own mother. The character of Ypi's mother emerges as an Ayn Rand-esque libertarian who, after brief moments of triumph during the fall of communism, ends her days cleaning the homes of strangers as a refugee from the Hobbesian nightmare she did her utmost to set in motion. Further, Ypi's gentle denouncement of dreamers leads me to feel that she has - in some Faustian sense - reconciled herself with old Uncle Enver. a b c Weaver, Matthew (3 January 2022). "Author says memoir of communist Albania met with 'vicious' abuse". The Guardian . Retrieved 3 January 2022. Flood, Alison (15 October 2021). "Baillie Gifford prize reveals 'outstanding storytelling' on 2021 shortlist". The Guardian . Retrieved 3 January 2022. Bir an�� kitabı değil Özgür. Bir tarih kitabı da değil. Mini bir ülke rehberi, bir genç kızın günlüğü, bir ailenin soy dökümü, bir milletin denizin dibini boylayan hayalleri, bir tohumun fidana evrilmesi.. Both adults seemed cursed by their “biographies”: a destiny-shaping word that loomed over every Albanian. Neither had been able to study what they wanted at university. Ypi recreates their squabbles in drole dialogue. They disagreed over everything: human nature, money, and whether Beethoven’s third symphony or another march was played at Comrade Enver’s 1985 state funeral.

It's a good account of a period that I have to admit to knowing little about. I think Albania's challenges may have got lost to the general public amongst the horrors of the extended Balkan conflicts. I recall trying to keep on top of it all when the Balkans first started to fall apart, believing that surely there was a good side and a bad side, good countries and bad ones, good ethnic groups and evil ones. What soon became apparent was that there were many many shades of grey in that part of the world. Albania and the plight of ethnic Albanians in other Balkan countries all got way too complicated for many of us to understand. Perhaps though, the account of one person, one ordinary person and her lived experience can be more powerful than a blow by blow account of everything that was happening in the late 1990s. Free is definitely an easy read, but it is also throughout a thought-provoking nonfiction book that explores the relationship between freedom and hope through figurative, poetic language. It is also an elaboration of how Ypi’s experience of liberalism can be equated with ‘broken promises, the destruction of solidarity, the right to inherit privilege, and turning a blind eye to injustices’ (253). A stylistically elegant and often emotionally overwhelming narrative unfolds multifaceted dilemmas and questions on freedom through exploring family dynamics, dialogues and tensions. An insightful and highly original memoir. A moving and witty story about growing up in Albania in the final days of the last Stalinist outpost of the 20th century.


I've never been excessively enthusiastic about philosophy or ideologies, yet the passion and manner Lea discussed them with has left me with a desire to learn more. The way in which she engaged with the ideologies, analysed them and directly applied them whilst seeking more answers was exhilarating and highlighted the importance of true self awareness of our surroundings - not just believing we are 'free' because we are told so. A book against simplification and generalisation and against thinking of perpetrators and victims. A thoughtful book on regime change and what events in the newspapers, in far away small countries mean for people of flesh and blood

Vår lärare Nora hade förklarat att utanför Albanien visste folk inte namnet på den som tillverkade saker, namnen på arbetarna. Hon berättade att i väst kände man bara till namnen på fabrikerna där sakerna tillverkades, människorna som ägde dem och deras barn och barnbarn.” Despite its powerful tone and fascinating explanations of complex historical episodes, the reconstruction of the 1990s December protests appears slightly contrived. To exemplify, it has been claimed that Durrës, Ypi’s hometown, never had a Stalin statue; rather, Stalin was commemorated through a bust – which technically means that Stalin never had legs to cling on. Ypi’s opening to the book thus appears to rather work as a metaphorical depiction of one’s inability to let go of a reality that is unexpectedly changing.

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Its form of communism was extreme, rejecting Russia after Stalin's death, China after Mao's. In tune with the Khmer Rouge and North Korea. It was armed to the teeth against invasion and subversion, its population protected from the luxuries and seductions of western capitalism.

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