Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Goodbye, Dracula: The Story of a Transylvanian Defector

Good-bye, Dracula: The Story of a Transylvania Defector
Traian Nicola
Outskirts Press (2012)

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“Goodbye, Dracula” is the memoir of a Transylvanian boy who grows up in a country slowly being overtaken by communism. His life was shaped during the reign of Nicolae Ceauşescu, head of the Romanian Communist Party. The book was written as a reminder of what things were really like, specifically for those readers, who, after the disarray of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the new capitalist movements, longed for the “good old days” of communist rule.

When one has the intelligence and talent to excel, the only good jobs available under communist rule are those working for the government, so, not surprisingly, Nicola's career opportunities came working for Ceauşescu's government. Was he there because he had a great love of intrigue or deep devotion to the Communist Party? No.  He was there because as a child, a distant family member had told stories of his time living in the US, and of the world beyond Transylvania. This sparked in him a longing to choose a career where he might be allowed to travel to see them for himself, so he chose to study economics and national trade. Because those areas of study were good covers for intelligence activities, Nicola was recruited by the Intelligence Division of the Romanian government.  But those who were given the opportunity to travel, even in that context, were few, and concerns about defections were great. It was working for the government that taught him more than he ever wanted to know about the inner workings of authoritarianism.