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When Robert Kaplan first visited Romania in the 1970s, it was a bleak communist backwater. Suffering under its brutal dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, the country was "one of the darkest corners of Europe." Earlier, during World War II, Romania was known as the country that gave rise to Ion Antonescu, Hitler’s chief foreign accomplice.
Romania today, with the majestic Gothic church spires of Transylvania and the Black Sea as picturesque backdrops, is a tourist destination shaped by Western tastes, but it is still emerging from the long shadows of Hitler and Stalin. And now with a resurgent Russia, Kaplan says the country is key to understanding the threat that Putin poses to Europe.
How has Romania's Latin and Greek past influenced its present? Why is the country so often overlooked?
Robert D. Kaplan is the best-selling author of 16 books on foreign affairs and travel that have been translated into many languages, including Asia's Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, where his work has appeared for three decades. He was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, and a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. Foreign Policy magazine twice named him one of the world's Top 100 Global Thinkers.