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Books published to date

Alex Drace-Francis, Geneza culturii române moderne. Instituțiile scrisului și dezvoltarea identității naționale, 1700-1900Iaşi: Polirom, 2016.


genezaHow do literacy and the development of literary culture promote the development of a national identity? This well-researched and readable book explores the rise of Romanian-language literary, educational and printing institutions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bringing out a story that has not been fully explored in English. He builds on and engages with current knowledge about print culture, modernization, national identity and state formation, to make an original contribution to ongoing debates in these areas. Alex Drace-Francis is an Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural History of Modern Europe at the University of Amsterdam.










What people are saying about it:

“An enormously erudite study… [F]or anyone interested in the origins of modern Romanian literary production and education in the context of the Enlightenment, modernization, and state-formation this is an indispensable book.” (Irina Livezeanu, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies)


“Alex Drace-Francis has produced a highly accurate and often outstandingly subtle piece of research. This British scholar observes things that his Romanian colleagues, being too familiar with them, have tended to gloss over” (Ovidiu Pecican, Observator Cultural)


“Solid and extremely well informed, Alex Drace-Francis’s book not only brings together a great mass of information and hypotheses, but also asks important questions about a cultural legacy whose investigation is still plagued by stereotypes.” (Mircea Anghelescu, Romanian Review of Book History)


“‘Admirably balanced in its critical use of sources, perfectly mature in discussing a difficult topic, Drace-Francis’s book is an exceptionally insightful and stimulating analysis of emergent Romanian modernity and a model for future approaches.” (Doris Mironescu, Slavonic and East European Review)


“Alex Drace-Francis has a knack of raising your intellectual game without leaving you fumbling for the ball. His occasional wit is dry but playful. If you know anyone who loves Romania enough to dig deep into its intellectual soil, the roots are here.” (Mike Ormsby, author of Never Mind the Balkans – Here’s Romania)


Roland Clark. Sfântă tinereţe legionară. Activismul fascist în România interbelic. Iaşi: Polirom, 2015.

Founded in 1927, Romania’s Legion of the Archangel Michael was one of Europe’s largest and longest-lived fascist social movements. In Holy Legionary Youth, Clark draws on oral histories, memoirs, and substantial research in the archives of the Romanian secret police to provide the most comprehensive account of the Legion in English to date. Clark approaches Romanian fascism by asking what membership in the Legion meant to young Romanians. Viewing fascism “from below,” as a social category with practical consequences for those who embraced it, he shows how the personal significance of fascism emerged out of Legionaries’ interactions with each other, the state, other political parties, families, friends, and fascist groups abroad. Official repression, fascist spectacle, and the frequency and nature of legionary activities changed a person’s everyday activities and relationships in profound ways. Clark’s sweeping history traces fascist organizing in interwar Romania to nineteenth-century grassroots nationalist movements that demanded political independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also shows how closely the movement was associated with the Romanian Orthodox Church and how the uniforms, marches, and rituals were inspired by the muscular, martial aesthetic of fascism elsewhere in Europe. Although antisemitism was a key feature of official fascist ideology, state violence against Legionaries rather than the extensive fascist violence against Jews had a far greater impact on how Romanians viewed the movement and their role in it. Approaching fascism in interwar Romania as an everyday practice, Holy Legionary Youth offers a new perspective on European fascism, highlighting how ordinary people “performed” fascism by working together to promote a unique and totalizing social identity.


What people are saying about it:
“Roland Clark’s Sfântă tinereţe legionară is a truly remarkable book. … Without detracting from the movement’s criminal nature, Clark’s book brings to our attention their sincere idealism and thirst for spiritual fulfillment. In this way, he helps us better understand not only this movement’s appeal in the interwar and World War II periods but also the endurance of Legionaries’ myth in Romania today.” (Vladimir Solonari, H-Net, 3 March 2016 )


“Clark tries to immerse himself in the lives of the legionaries. He is interested in the Legionary “everyday,” in the experiences of Codreanu’s followers. The everyday is defined in such a way that the “willingness to make sacrifices for the national battle” against the “Jews” and the “system” lifts up the everyday and permanently exults it. If my reading is correct, one must affiliate oneself with the Legion as if it was a “drug”: activity replaces helplessness; building activities; demonstrations; only the unutterable can be uttered; music; lyrics; parades; discussions. Whoever wants to join the Legion cannot complain about lacking employment, excitement, or appreciation.” (Armin Heinen, H/Soz/Kult, 15 August 2015)


Holy Legionary Youth is more than just a book about the meaning of fascism for rank-and-file activists in the legionary movement; its achievement is a social history of the Iron Guard, an organization that is considered to be among “the biggest fascist movements in Europe (p. 15) in terms of the number of members per capita. Roland Clark is interested in how fascism transformed the lives of ordinary people, and it is no accident that the book begins with the funeral of a young girl from Craiova, Maria Cristescu, a teenage sympathizer of the legionary movement: her funeral mobilized hundreds of people in a ceremony with specifically legionary motifs, including political ones.” (Cristian Vasile, Contributors.ro, 13 September 2015)


“Clark quickly and distinctively differentiates his book from other histories of the Legion. For the first time we have a study that analyzes the legionary movement not just, or even primarily, in terms of its leaders or in terms of the major events that punctuated its birth, rise, and fall. We have in this book one of the most ‘colorful,’ nuanced, and dense works on the subject.” (Cristian Patrasconiu, Revista 22, 1 September 2015).


“Highly interdisciplinary, analytically comprehensive, and informed by a prodigious array of both primary sources and secondary literature, Clark’s book is a much-awaited reading for researchers, university professors, and students alike.” (Ionut Biliuta, Hungarian Historical Review, 5/1 (2015): 194-196).


Vladimir SolonariPurificarea națiunii: dislocări forțate de populație și epurări etnice în România lui Ion Antonescu, 1940-1944. Iaşi: Polirom, 2015.

In Purifying the Nation Vladimir Solonari shows that the persecution of Jews and Roma by the Antonescu regime had its roots in traditional Romanian ethnic nationalism that long preceded the 1940s. This ethnic nationalism was not completely compatible with national socialist German racism and its revolutionary agenda, but the Nazis’ emphasis on “biology” as the only “scientific” foundation of modern society resonated with Romanian radical nationalists who had long suspected all national minorities of disloyalty to the Romanian nation and who considered an ethnically pure state the only “natural” form of modern societal organization. Solonari follows the way in which the policy of “ethnic purification” was pursued during the war and explains why the treatment applied to different minorities was vastly dissimilar. He devotes about a third of the book to the analysis of this policy in two eastern provinces, Bessarabia and Bukovina, where “ethnic purification,” in the first place against Jews, was carried out with extraordinary brutality and without regard to any legal and moral constraints. He explains that these provinces were singled out by the regime as “models” for post-war Romania, which had to be ethnically cleansed and reeducated in the spirit of the “New Europe.” Solonari also shows how and why the deportation of the nomadic Roma as well as Roma with criminal records was part of the campaign of ethnic purification. The book is the fruit of years-long research in the archival collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, which holds copies of documents from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia, as well as archives in Bucharest, Romania. It also reflects numerous recent publications of archival documents, memoirs, diaries, and other documents from the period.


What people are saying about it:

“Solonari shows how in the southern border zone with Bulgaria, Bessarabia, and above all in the occupied southern Ukraine, the Romanian leadership shunted people around and massacred them with an energy that left even Germans astonished.” (Mark Mazower, Times Literary Supplement)


Purifying the Nation makes a major contribution to the literature on ethnic cleansing during World War II. … The Antonescu government consisted of personalities from a range of parties, not just the military. Antonescu himself and the number two man in his government, Mihai Antonescu, had been pro-western before becoming “realists” and seizing the Hitlerian moment in order to purify Romania and reclaim territories taken by the Soviets in 1940. Solonari’s argument is thus aimed at the Romanian right and public opinion more broadly, and not just at “Marshall Antonescu.” (Irina Livezeanu, Slavic Review)


“Carefully researched and exhaustively documented, Purifying the Nation is a fine piece of scholarship and an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of this dark period.” (Peter Sherwood, Holocaust and Genocide Studies)


“Vladimir Solonari’s book about Romania from the late 1930s to 1944 is a very major addition to the scholarship on the subject.” (Daniel Chirot, Journal of Modern History)


Solonari’s book “is by far the best account of genocide and ethnic cleansing under the Antonescu regime.” (Stanley G. Payne, The International History Review)


“Solonari’s work is exciting to read and his thesis is vigorously argued. The material is well organized into chapters, with a good narrative and excellent illustrations…” (Alex Drace-Francis, European History Quarterly)


“The conclusion of this book [that the Romanian program of ethnic purification had its roots in Romania’s own interwar radical nationalist thought rather than in Nazi doctrine] is memorable and worth our careful and honest reflection.” (Cristian Pătrășconiu, Revista 22, 1 September 2015).


“Vladimir Solonari’s book is more than a history of the Holocaust in Romania. This book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the way the modern Romanian nation was built in relation to its ethnic minorities…. It is a call to remember, and it is addressed not only to erudite professional historians but to all of us. Let’s listen to it with the attention and seriousness it deserves.” (Petru Negură, Observator cultural, May 13, 2016)


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