Cine a murit? Dracula sau comunismul?

article in Evenimentul Zilei, February 2010

Un fost ambasador al SUA în România, inspirat de experienţa la noi în ţară, legenda lui Dracula şi moştenirea comunismului a scris, împreună cu soţia sa, o carte în care a vrut să demonteze miturile pe care americanii le ştiau despre România.

Întrebaţi despre modul în care SUA percepe ţara noastră în contextul fostelor relaţii cu ruşii, autorii, Jim Rosapepe şi Sheilah Kast, au precizat că “românilor le place să se considere o insulă de latini într-o mare de slavi”.

Jim Rosapepe, fost ambasador al Statelor Unite în România, în perioada 1998 şi 2001, şi soţia sa Sheilah Kast au decis să scrie o carte despre România, prin propria loc experienţă în cei trei ani petrecuţi la noi în ţară: “Dracula is dead. Despre cum au supravieţuit românii comunismului, l-au eradicat şi au revenit după 1989 ca Noua Italie” s-a lansat în noiembrie 2009 şi a atras atenţia mass-mediei din SUA. Read the rest of this entry »

“We Wait”

The Rev. Harold Babcock -First Religious Society (Unitarian Universalist)
Hear the Sermon, February 21, 2010

“. . . do not throw your pearls before swine. . . .”
- Matthew 7: 6

Like Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe, authors of the recently published Dracula is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged Since 1989 as the New Italy, I too have often been struck by the Romanian use of the phrase “we wait,” even among my Hungarian Romanian friends.  Almost always, when I let our partner church minister Zsolt Jakab know that I am coming to visit, he writes or says to me, “We waiting,” or, simply, “We wait.” Read the rest of this entry »

New Oxford Review Magazine – Briefly Reviewed

by Elizabeth C. Hanink in January – February 2010 edition

Herta Müller notwithstanding, most Americans think very little about Romania. They know even less. Nadia Comaneci, the gypsies, and Count Dracula comprise the extent of most Americans’ familiarity. Yet there is so much more, and former Ambassador Jim Rosapepe and his wife, journalist Sheilah Kast, have gathered a collection of anecdotes to help explain Romania to us just as they once explained the U.S. to Romanians.

More than a travelogue but less than a full memoir, their book helps us understand a people who suffered terribly under a cruel family tyranny but who have resiliently emerged with hope for a better future. Historically, Romania has often been at the center of clashing empires: Roman, Greek, Austrian, Ottoman, Russian, and German. A popular proverb accounts for its survival: “The bent neck avoids the sword.” Read the rest of this entry »

5 Questions About ‘Dracula is Dead’

by Kim on February 4, 2010 on

Summary: As ambassador to Romania shortly after the end of Communist rule, Jim Rosapepe worked hard to help the country shed the image of an old, dark, haunted place and bring Romania into the 20th century and all that implies. His wife, Sheila, used her skills as a journalist to work with the Romanian people to make the transition possible. In this book, Sheila and Jim chronicle their time in Romania by taking the reader through each of Romania’s eight regions and the changes that have helped shape the country.

Review: I decided to mix up my review format a little bit this time — I’m going to review the book by answering a few of the questions I found on a book discussion page at, which cover the main points I want to get at about this book that, overall, I enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »

Think Italy, not vampires

A fondness for the U.S. is in Romanians’ blood

Sunday, December 6, 2009, The Washington Post

I say Romania, you say . . . Dracula, right? Well, put a stake through the heart of that outdated association, say Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe, authors of the new book “Dracula Is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged Since 1989 as the New Italy.” Rosapepe, a former ambassador to Romania, and his journalist wife Kast recently spoke with Travel deputy editor Zofia Smardz about Romania’s resurgence and the realities and pleasures of traveling there.

Bran Castle, a Romanian landmark widely thought of as Dracula's castle, is now a museum open to the public.

Bran Castle, a Romanian landmark widely thought of as Dracula’s castle, is now a museum open to the public. (Daniel Williams/the Washington Post)

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Does Wall’s fall resonate today?

It seemed to herald the inevitability of democracy, but the forces at play in 1989 weren’t universal
By Jim Rosapepe and Sheilah Kast
November 8, 2009 – The Baltimore Sun

To Americans, the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago this week – and the Iron Curtain with it – was more than a big move on the geostrategic chessboard. Yes, it made us safer, but it also vindicated our core national identity. Democracy, it seemed to prove, is such a universal value that it will inevitably defeat dictatorship.

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In the news: Jim Rosapepe comes back to Bucharest with a book

Romania, the obsession of an American Ambassador

article by Raluca Ion in Cotidianul, September 21, 2009

[Translation from Romanian]

Former U.S. Ambassador to Bucharest Jim Rosapepe will be launching, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an extremely optimistic book about Romania. In „Dracula is Dead“, former US ambassador and wife, award winning journalist, Sheilah Kast, go beyond homeless children and communism, and discover an “amazing country”, which has a success story to tell to the world.
On November 9, once with the 20 years anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, American readers can buy from bookstores “Dracula is Dead” and turn the page to the rarely seen face of Romania. “In December 1989, Romanians overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, ending more than forty years of Communist totalitarianism. Twenty years later, Romania is a thriving democracy, an economic success, and a member of NATO and the European Union“, this is written on the website presenting the book, which takes you from Bucharest, the Paris of the East, where Orthodox Christianity works together with latest technology up to Oltenia, whose inhabitants are comparing themselves to Texans. Read the rest of this entry »

Press Release

Bill Bryson Meets Zbigniew Brzezinski — An Entertaining Odyssey
through an Often Forgotten Corner of Europe

Published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, Dracula is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended it, and Emerged Since 1989 as the New Italy takes readers on a memorable tour of Romania—past, present, and future. Through a series of colorful vignettes, former United States ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe and distinguished journalist Sheilah Kast, his wife, introduce us to the people, places, and history of Romania, transporting us to a vibrant country most of us know little about Read the rest of this entry »