5.0 out of 5 stars THE book to read about the Ceausescus' regime in Romania
After performing scenes from Churchill's play "Mad Forest," I wanted to learn more about Ceausescu and Romania and found "Red Horizons" was one of the few books in the market on the subject. After reading this book I better understood "Mad Forest" and am shocked that Ceausescu will probably never appear in a History textbook or mentioned...
Published on July 20 2001 by Damon Navas-Howard
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous
I expected better from someone who was in charge of Romania's program of disinformation abroad -- this book is utterly unbelievable and unconvincing.
One striking feature of the book, noticed by several other reviewers, is how self-serving it is. Pacepa has nothing self-incriminating to say, quite the opposite. He portrays himself as a deeply spiritual man: a devout...
Published on Jan 27 2003 by D. Ghica
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous,
This review is from: Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption (Paperback)I expected better from someone who was in charge of Romania's program of disinformation abroad -- this book is utterly unbelievable and unconvincing.
One striking feature of the book, noticed by several other reviewers, is how self-serving it is. Pacepa has nothing self-incriminating to say, quite the opposite. He portrays himself as a deeply spiritual man: a devout Christian (prays daily and intensely); a connoiseour of music (concert-quality violin player), painting (his best friend is the subject of his favourite painting), and literature (he conforts himself by reciting Shelley). He hovers around the Ceausescus having minimal and dignified interaction with them, while everyone else is grovelling and debasing themselves in order to gain their favour. Pacepa's actions themselves are usually unclear, it always seems to be someone else who issues the order to have the dissident beaten or threatened. His sole role seems to be that of a witness, quitely gathering material for his book.
This is quite laughable. He was the chief of the Securitate's external informations (i.e. espionage) operations. Just like the Nazi Gestapo, the Romanian Securitate was a highly politicized institution where it was virtually impossible for a cool and impassive professional to find himself promoted to a top position. The Securitate was not the Army or the Government, where professionals did occasionally and temporarily bubble up to top positions.
Pacepa's bid to portray his relation to Ceausescu similarly to Canaris's relation to Hitler -- begrudging acquiescence leading to revolt -- is silly, if it wasn't despicable. It is far more likely that Pacepa was like a Kaltenbrunner or Heydrich, or at least a Schellenberg, to Ceausescu. It is little wonder we are told nothing about Pacepa's raise to one of the top positions in the Romanian Communist hierarchy.
In addition to being highly implausible the book is poorly written and short on interesting historical detail. Potentially interesting information regarding Ceausescu's secrent foreign accounts and assassination attempts against dissidents is often alluded to, but never documented or detailed. This would have been helpful, because in post-Ceausescu Romania no such accounts or criminal actions could be found, and not for lack of trying.
However, a lot of effort is put into painting a caricatural picure of the Ceausescus and their immediate coterie of subalterns -- which makes Pacepa's dignified self-portrayal even less believable. Every time Elena C is mentioned we are reminded that her teeth are yellow. Every time Nicolae C eats we are reminded of his poor manners. The emphasis on such personality details at the expense of serious historically relevant information undermines the credibility of the book even further.
In conclusion this book is mildly entertaining and not very informative. It is a (most likely) highly fictionalized and sanitized memoirs. I am afraid that reading this book to learn about Pacepa is equivalent with watching the movie 'A Beautiful Mind' to learn about John Nash.
5.0 out of 5 stars THE book to read about the Ceausescus' regime in Romania,
This review is from: Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption (Paperback)After performing scenes from Churchill's play "Mad Forest," I wanted to learn more about Ceausescu and Romania and found "Red Horizons" was one of the few books in the market on the subject. After reading this book I better understood "Mad Forest" and am shocked that Ceausescu will probably never appear in a History textbook or mentioned after '89.
Even if you don't like Historical nonfiction, you will love this book and it will truly hold your attention. It is not just a book of facts but written by the man who led Ceausescu's Intelligence agency during his regime. One must wonder how he could go along with Ceausescu's regime and still live with it today but nonetheless it is worth reading. The feeling you get from "Red Horizons," when reading it is not so much an account of dates and facts but a feel of the day to do atrocities and the Ceausescus cowardice and filthy nature. It is almost like reading Macbeth and you shutter to think this actually happened.
This book should be read by anyone who has a yearning to learn about one of the worst regimes to exist after WW2.
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking!,
This review is from: Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption (Paperback)Espionage, Middle Eastern politics, terrorism, repression, VIP lifestyles, all in this book, and what is more amazing, all true. This was one of the best and most interesting books I have ever read -- and that is saying a lot. What you may read in the newspaper or see on TV is not what is going on behind closed doors. But Pacepa revealed what went on behind closed doors in Ceausescu's Romania -- too scary to be true, but unfortunately it was true. To this day Pacepa is a hunted man, despite Ceausescu's fall, because he knows way too much -- and he is not afraid to make it public. Despite the fact that he did commit many atrocities before his defection, to me this book cleansed him of all of his sins.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A kingdom for a sequel!,
I am inclined to believe most of what the author writes. I found the book astonishing, fascinating, downright enlightening; I can recommend it to anyone who has the guts to learn what the world and its history are actually like, as opposed to a fanciful portrayal of what they ought to be. We who have the privilege of living somewhat freely and luxuriously in our safe, comfortable dwellings can only appreciate an occasional injection of cold truth.
That said, there are two things Pacepa discreetly 'fails' to include in this book, and I cannot blame him for doing so:
There's some other minor stuff he inserts rather awkwardly - like his alleged Christianity and his love for the USA - but that's unverifiable and pretty much irrelevant, so let's leave it at that. Pacepa's personal issues are not what makes the book amazing, and they are kept to a minimum.
To summarize, I highly recommend this book to anyone who can stand the enormities - for entertainment as well as educational value.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Portrayal of the Conducator,
By A Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Work,
First, this book was not checked out in advance with the CIA or any other government agency as some reviewers have suggested. People would be very surprised at the frequently rough relationships between defectors and the US intelligence community. At any rate, the US does not dictate or control what these people write.
Rather than focus on some of the many titilating stories in the book, this work is best used as a window on a very strict, ruthless dictatorship. Not many works can provide the kind of insight as this one.
1.0 out of 5 stars You know what it's about,
I already knew about the Ceaucescus (having lived nine years under their regime) but it was interesting finding out more about their characters. Pacepa rounds them off as intelligent - they managed to fool the Russians and Americans while appearing illiterate and idiotic to the general public. Nicolae's hypocracy comes across strongest of all - he sat in his study cradling precious volumes of Marx and then went about destroying the souls of a nation, making children slave in the fields, nurses crying of pain working weekends.
Pacepa made a wise choice and he was lucky to escape. People always wonder whether such books are accurate, whether they're biased, but the truth of the matter is that all history is 'touched up' - Ceaucescu himself blocked out chunks of history because it spoilt his vision - the ultimate protelatarian lie.
4.0 out of 5 stars titillating but take it with a block of salt,
Readers should be careful of taking everything Pacepa says as the gospel truth for at least four reasons:
1) When the director of a foreign intelligence service defects to the US, you can pretty much bet any publicly available memoirs have been vetted by the CIA and its ghostwriters before publishing. I.e., what was left out? And how the hell do we fact-check what's left, to be sure there wasn't some disinformation or exaggeration going on (as someone pointed out, the book was launched in 1987, two years before Ceausescu's fall)?
2) Pacepa defected in 1978, right as things were really starting to spiral down the tubes internally in Romania. Anything after that, you won't find in this book or else it's not eyewitness stuff. He had not yet attained the higher reaches of power when *hundreds* of thousands endured the physical as well as psychological terror of Ceausescu's predecessor, Gheorghiu-Dej, as opposed to the *tens* of thousands enduring somewhat more psychological pressure (i.e., much fewer executions) under Ceausescu. Still, Pacepa had to have known a great deal about the repressive system under both leaders, which leads to the next point:
3) Never, ever forget that Pacepa rose to the pinnacle of power and says next to nothing about how he got there (why was *he* approved?) or his ethics in defending the regime from the highest levels. Don't buy his "foreign intelligence had nothing to do with the internal secret police" nonsense--there was a great deal of organizational separation, but you cannot divorce what DIE was doing from what the domestic police were doing--perpetuating a brutal one-party regime. It's rather silly to suggest, as one reviewer did, that Pacepa should've killed himself, but his own morals are in considerable doubt, Christian or otherwise; his was not a case of somebody joining the party just to keep a job. Read Dennis Deletant's _Ceausescu and the Securitate_ to get an idea of what kind of regime he was defending, as well as the introduction which points to some of Pacepa's factual lapses. To Pacepa's credit, he does admit to organizing brutal operations against dissident emigres as ordered, but you see the problem.
4) Throughout the '90s, Pacepa has been and still is very, very active in sending frequent, sensationalist letters and articles on the Ceausescu and post-Ceausescu period, most notably to the Bucharest daily _Ziua_ (whose director, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, is an admitted former collaborator with the former Securitate, that is, the internal communist-era secret police). Both men have enormous political axes to grind (mostly against Ion Iliescu and company). Sometimes they're on target, but Stanescu in particular has at times played fast and loose with principles and facts underpinning journalist ethics (e.g., the whole alleged Iliescu-KGB affair and its sub-scandals), such that it's hard to trust him or the information from his sources even if you want to. For his part, Pacepa has had a major bone to pick with parts of Romania's multiple intelligence agencies for most of the last decade--quite possibly for good reason, as many of them have a lot to answer for, but until he stops being incredibly oblique and conspiratorial, and comes clean about the specific targets, evidence, and motivations of his agenda, you are advised to retain some skepticism, as many informed Romanians do back in Romania proper.
All that said, you will get in this book an excellent expose of how Ceausescu was using the West and feeding the Soviets a steady stream of intelligence information, despite the rather "maverick" rhetoric that distanced him from the rest of the Warsaw Pact. (Realize also that this Western support was enabling Ceausescu to put the screws to the population.) It's also probably not far off when describing the paranoia and other bizarre behavior of the ruling couple (especially Elena) and their family. The difficulty is in determining exactly how accurate vs. selective it all is.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beg your pardon, Bob!,
Yes, you have mentioned about the 'homophobic and racist stuff' not being true.
Apologies for the misunderstanding...
5.0 out of 5 stars How come someone say it's not true?,
And now to the book... I read it twice, devouring it page by page until the wee hours of the mornings. It transported me back to the times when terror and oppression ruled this beautiful country of Romania. I encountered the steel arm of the Securitate a few times as well. The book is not a fiction but rather a document left for our future generations to ponder upon. Wonderful yet scary, funny and serious, a complete description of Romania's corrupt system. Not to be missed!
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Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption by Ion Mihai Pacepa (Paperback - April 15 1990)
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