A controversial history

The Left Side of History

The history of communism in Bulgaria is the subject of Kristen Ghodsee's The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (Duke University Press, $23.95). Ghodsee focuses on Communist Party member and British Army intelligence officer Maj. Frank Thompson, who fought with the partisans in Bulgaria during World War II, and on Elena Lagadinova, a teenager during the war who opposed the Nazi-allied Bulgarian monarchy. Ghodsee's narrative is filtered through personal stories of those in Thompson's and Lagadinova's circles. Her claim is that the standard of living and the status of women were better under communism, and she seems to have facts on her side.