George Galloway and Bob Wylie
Futura Publications, London, 1991
ISBN 0-7088-5003-0

During ten Christmas days in 1989 which shook the world, the all-powerful House of Ceausescu crumbled and fell in the blood-splattered snow.

DOWNFALL grippingly tells the story of just how grotesque and bizarre the Romanian dictatorship had become, universally notorious for its leather-jacketed Securitate and its child AIDS horror. At its head were the Red Royal Family, the Ceausescus - the world's only communist king and queen.

DOWNFALL graphically describes this the bravest and deadliest anti-communist revolution, from its beginnings in heroic Timasoara to its triumph in Palace Square, Bucharest with the dictators' dramatic helicopter flight from the rooftop and the shocking reality of their bullet-ridden end.

DOWNFALL chronicles the violently contested aftermath, the claims and counter-claims from the revolution's winners and losers, and contains exclusive interviews with the surviving imprisoned members of the Ceausescu family. Was it a real revolution or a pre-emptive coup? Where are the Securitate now, and which way is Romania headed? With acute insight and in rich detail, DOWNFALL helps answer these persisting questions.

George Galloway, the controversial MP for Glasgow Hillshead, is a foreign affairs specialist who counts the like of Yasser Arafat and Benazir Bhutto as his personal friends. His travels read like a roll-call of revolutionary upheavals: from the bombed-out ruins of Beirut, the firestorms of Gaza, Soweto, Kashmir and Nicaragua to the rebel-held fiefdoms of the Philippines and Central America.

A frequent broadcaster and orator, Galloway writes for the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, the Guardian, Spectator, Glasgow Herald and The Scotsman.

Bob Wylie is a freelance journalist whose work in recent years has made him an eye-witness to the drama of events in South Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. He worked for nearly two years in Cape Town and Johannesburg during P.W. Botha's State of Emergency to chart the youth revolt and the rise of the black unions, then went to Israel and the Occupied Territories to follow the Palestinian intifada, and most recently he has marched in the footsteps of the unfolding anti-communist revolutions in Poland, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

Wylie, formerly a prominent Marxist, prides himself on getting both sides of the story, and his writings in the British and European press demonstrate a sharp eye for detail, and a keen ear for quote. He is an Honours graduate of Glasgow University and was a teacher and then social worker before becoming a journalist. He says his working maxim now is "Things are never what they seem."

In autumn 1957 I had not yet experienced the Japanese film Rashomon, the dramatisation of the classic enigma of truth, the inescapable, ordained contradictions, life distorted to infinity in its own mirror.

I knew in Warsaw as I walked through the October events that I was walking in a hall of facets ... 30 years later I cannot be certain what was real and what was imagined ... which has caused me to return to Rashomon ... to study this metaphor of life and remind myself that there is no truth. There are many truths, some valid for one, some for another. Things are not what they seem ... It is a lesson we must learn and relearn because always we keep searching for certainty, and certainty does not exist.

Harrison Salisbury, Disturber of the Peace,
Unwin Hyman (1989).


PART I The Red Royal Family

  1 The End, the Beginning
  2 Ceausescu at the Summit
  3 Czechoslovakia
  4 Idolatry
  5 Romania—A State of Morality
  6 The Romanian Jews
  7 Boulevard

PART II The Revolution from Timišoara to Bucharest

  8 Timišoara
  9 17th December—the Day of Reckoning
10 Towards the Revolution—18th, 19th and 20th December
11 21st December
12 22nd December
13 The Flight of the Ceausescus
14 The Days before Christmas
15 The Trial
16 The Execution

PART III The June Days

17 From January to June
18 The Days Leading to 13th June
19 14th June and the Aftermath
20 Guilty or Not Guilty?
21 Miron Cozma and the Miners of the Jiu Valley
22 The Last and the First Chapter

Appendix 1 Romania—20th May Election Results
Appendix 2 Eastern Europe: the Economic Facts

Wikipedia: Romanian Revolution of 1989
Wikipedia: Nicolae Ceaušescu