Books about Bulgarian history in foreign languages are few and far between. This is particularly true for this nation's recent past as a Communist country. While some international researchers with an interest in 20th century history are aware that Bulgaria was a loyal Soviet ally between 1944 and 1989, just a limited number know what Bulgaria and its people looked like under Communism. Even most younger Bulgarians do not know much about this period of their country's past while the older generations increasingly feel nostalgic about it.
A new book, Bulgaria Under Communism, published by Routledge in 2018, fills the gaps for English speakers. Written by Professor Ivaylo Znepolski and historians from the Bulgarian Institute for Research of the Recent Past, the volume covers the most important aspects of Bulgaria as a Communist country. It provides all the background needed for a person unfamiliar with Bulgarian history to understand how and why Communism took over, in 1944. It also explores the profound transformation of Bulgarian politics, society, economy and culture in the 45 years that followed.
Communism in Bulgaria is often perceived as a monolithic period, but this is not so. Communist Bulgaria of the 1950s was different from Communist Bulgaria of the 1980s. Communist policies fluctuated between internationalism and nationalism, the economy balanced between large-scale spending and bankruptcy, Bulgaria's minorities, intelligentsia and religious institutions were showered with privileges or were brutally suppressed. The authors of Bulgaria Under Communism thoroughly explain these transformations. The narrative is divided into three chronological parts: establishment of Communism and Stalinism; destalinisation and consolidation of Todor Zhivkov's regime; and the collapse of Communism in Bulgaria. The role of the regime's defining figures, dictators Georgi Dimitrov and Todor Zhivkov, is clearly explained.
The result is a rich and fascinating picture of one of Europe's least known former Communist countries.
Bulgaria Under Communism is a part of the Routledge Histories of Central and Eastern Europe, ISBN: 9780815372790