Abel, a former New York Times and NBC journalist and Dean of Columbia's School of Journalism now on the faculty at Stanford, tries to describe what has been ``going on'' to cause the recent political turmoil from the Baltic to the Balkans. Unfortunately, as if writing a piece for the evening news, Abel utilizes ``sound bite'' sentences, offering little more than what one would have read in a good newspaper during 1989-90. Somewhat more interesting are Chapters 8-11, in which Abel makes more analytical observations, including a reminder that the transition to democratic, market-oriented systems will involve dislocations and sacrifices. This is not a scholarly volume nor one for college classes; it may have appeal for a general reader. For a more solid work on this subject, wait for the update of J.F. Brown's Eastern Europe and Communist Rule (Duke Univ. Pr., 1988), scheduled to be published in the spring of 1991. --Daniel Nelson, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C.