Dictators, Orphans and Dracula

On Christmas Day in 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife (best-known as Madame Ceauşescu) were executed.  The executions ended more than 40 years of totalitarian rule and started Romania on a new course of history.  Our guests today are Jim Rosapepe, the former United States ambassador to Romania, and his wife, journalist Sheilah Kast. Together they’ve written a new book titled Dracula is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged since 1989 as the New Italy. Part travelogue, part primer on Romanian history, the authors promise “an amazing tour of an amazing land—beyond Dracula, beyond orphans, beyond Communism, to the vibrant culture, unique history, and 21st Century skills which define modern Romania.”

Here’s one story Rosapepe and Kast tell in their book: Soon after Clinton became president, he traveled to Romania and was presented with a Romanian flag as seen in the photo to the right. Romanians cut out the Communist insignia from the middle as a point of pride. When the official White House thank you note arrived after the trip, it thanked the people of Romania for the “flag or poncho.”