Cold War Studies at Harvard University

Triggering Communism's Collapse: Perceptions and Power in Poland's Transition
by Marjorie Castle.

Now available from Rowman & Littlefield



Why was Poland the first Communist regime to collapse? Why do many Poles see their peaceful transition away from communist rule as a sham, rather than as a victory? To find answers to these questions, Triggering Communism's Collapse examines the political dynamics of the Polish transition—a transition that stripped the Communist party of its control of the government, thrust an opposition leader into the premiership, and set off the world-changing series of communist collapses in the Soviet bloc.

At a time when Poland's economy was deteriorating, the workers were striking, and the Soviets were vacillating, both the Polish and Communist regime and the Solidarity-led opposition formulated certain expectations and acted upon them. Both side' expectations soon turned outt o be mistaken, but the resulting choices shaped the course of events in surprising ways. Through elite interviews and archival recoreds, marjorie Castle shows how mistaken expectations resulted in a sudden transfer of power away from the communist elite and created a new political arena full of surprises. Drastic changes in the capabilities of key political actors radically altered the implications of negotiated rules. yet there rules went on to change the political landscape itself.

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Introduction: The Paradox of the Polish Transition

1. Changing Arenas, Changing Players

2. Setting the Stage for the Round Table: The Polish Context

3. A new Political Playing Field: The Negotiating Arena

4. The Players of the Round Table

5. The Negotiations and their Outcome

6. An Unexpectedly Competitive Arena: the 1989 Elections

7. Campaign: Rulers and Opposition Confront a New Game

8. Polish Voters and the Players Respond

9. Changing Power: The Legacies and lessons of the Round Table

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