Bucharest Diary

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Bucharest Diary

Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light

by Alfred H. Moses

An insider’s account of Romania’s emergence from communism control

In the 1970s Washington, DC attorney Alfred H. Moses was approached on the streets of Bucharest by young Jews seeking help to emigrate to Israel. This became the author’s mission until Romania’s communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, fell in 1989. Prior to Ceausescu’s downfall, Moses met with him in Romania and elsewhere to persuade him to allow increased Jewish emigration. He returned frequently to post-Ceausescu Romania to meet with the country’s new leaders on behalf of Romania’s elderly remaining Jewish community. This experience forged a close bond between Moses and Romania that led to his being appointed U.S. ambassador to Romania from 1994 to 1997 during the Clinton administration.

The ambassador’s time of service in Romania came a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. At the outset of Moses’s ambassadorship, Romania faced economic paralysis and was still buried in the rubble of communism. Over the ensuing three years, Moses helped Romania build its nascent democratic institutions and promote privatization of Romania’s economy, and shepherded Romania on the path toward full integration with Western institutions.

This book is filled with firsthand stories, including colorful anecdotes, of the diplomacy, both public and private, that helped Romania recover from four decades of communist rule, transitioning from “darkness to light,” and eventually becoming a member of both NATO and the European Union. Romania still struggles with the consequences of its history, but has adopted many of the reforms Ambassador Moses championed.

Bucharest Diary: Romania’s Journey from Darkness to Light is an essential read for anyone interested in the region’s general and Jewish history. It’s by a modern-day Moses — a man who was more responsible for letting his people go to Israel than any other figure.”

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Published by Brookings Institution Press, 2018
363 pages; hardcover and ebook