Most of the specialists in Eastern Europe I know first got truly interested in the region after a trip, which then triggered applications to grad school, years spent reading books, and a year or two in the particular country or region of choice researching a dissertation. Francis Tapon‘s story is different. While he visited Prague in the late 1990s, it did not trigger an academic obsession. Still, he got interested enough in the region and the fact that he knew so little about it that he decided to devote several years traveling to every country to get to know the people. The result is The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us (WanderLearn, 2012), which is a travelogue tracking his travels starting in Finland and down through the Baltic states and Central Europe, and then the Balkans, and ultimately into the European Russia. He has some great stories, and if what he learns may not surprise specialists, his view is always fresh. Consequently I was happy to talk to him about his journeys and what he learned recently, and I invite you to listen to our conversation.
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