Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948

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by Madeleine Albright
     
 

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“A remarkable story of adventure and passion, tragedy and courage set against the backdrop of occupied Czechoslovakia and World War II.” —Václav Havel

From former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes a moving and thoughtful memoir of her formative years in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism,… See more details below

Overview

“A remarkable story of adventure and passion, tragedy and courage set against the backdrop of occupied Czechoslovakia and World War II.” —Václav Havel

From former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes a moving and thoughtful memoir of her formative years in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism, and the onset of the Cold War. An intensely personal journey into the past that offers vital lessons for the future, Prague Winter combines the intimacy of an autobiography with the drama of an exciting and well-told story—all underpinned by the gravity and intelligence of a serious work of history. The result is a highly readable and incisive work filled with tragedy and triumph, a resonant narrative informed by Albright’s remarkable life experience and her characteristic candor in speaking hard truths.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author’s childhood reminiscences of her first 11 years and savvy grasp of history inform this absorbing account of Czechoslovakia’s travails and Albright’s family’s suffering in the Holocaust. The daughter of a diplomat in the Czech government who migrated from Prague to wartime exile in London and back to postwar Prague, former secretary of state Albright (Madam Secretary) sketches lively recollections of weathering the Blitz and other adventures, but her narrative mainly investigates things hidden from her as a child. Raised a Catholic, Albright famously learned of her Jewish ancestry in middle age. She pens a moving portrait of life in the “model” ghetto at Terezín, near Prague, through which her relatives passed on their way to death camps. Centering the book is a searching diplomatic history of Czechoslovakia’s interwar democracy, which was abandoned to Hitler by the West and then snuffed out by Soviet-backed Communists. The story is enriched by Albright’s colorful thumbnails of Eduard Benes, Jan Masaryk, and other principals and by her insights into geopolitics, which yield sympathetic but clear-eyed assessments of the compromises statesmen made to accommodate the ruthless powers surrounding Czechoslovakia. Showing us villainy, heroism, and agonizing moral dilemmas, Albright’s vivid storytelling and measured analysis brings this tragic era to life. Photos. One-day laydown. Represented by Bob Barnett. (Apr. 24)
The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A gripping account of World War II. . . . In taut prose, Albright weaves a powerful narrative that wraps her family’s story into the larger political drama unfolding in Europe.”
The Daily
“Albright has supplemented a deeply researched history of World War II-era Czechoslovakia with a moving family narrative.”
The Los Angeles Times
“A riveting tale of her family’s experience in Europe during World War II [and] a well-wrought political history of the region, told with great authority. . . . More than a memoir, this is a book of facts and action.”
The Washington Post Book World
“A compelling personal exploration of [Albright’s] family’s Jewish roots as well as an excellent history of Czechoslovakia from 1937 to 1948. . . . Highly informative and insightful. . . . I can’t recommend Prague Winter highly enough.”
The New York Review of Books
“In the crowded field of memoirs written by former secretaries of state, Madeleine Albright’s books stand out. . . . Albright is a charming and entertaining storyteller.”
The Economist
“Albright’s book is a sprightly historical narrative of this long decade. . . . Her account of the destruction of inter-war Czechoslovakia, both as a geographical entity and as an idea of democracy, first by the Nazis and then by the Communists, is balanced and vivid.”
The Jewish Journal
“A blend of history and memoir that reveals in rich, poignant and often heartbreaking detail a story that had been hidden from her by her own parents. . . . The beating heart of the book is Albright’s searing account of her intimate family saga.”
Leon Wieseltier
“A genuinely admirable book. Albright skillfully returns us to some of the darkest years of modern times. Spring eventually came to Prague, but in much of the world it is still winter. The love of democracy fills every one of these instructive and stirring pages.”
Walter Isaacson
“I was totally blown away by this book. It is a breathtaking combination of the historical and the personal. Albright confronts the brutal realities of the Holocaust and the conflicted moral choices it led to. An unforgettable tale of fascism and communism, courage and realism, families and heartache and love.
Vaclav Havel
“A remarkable story of adventure and passion, tragedy and courage set against the backdrop of occupied Czechoslovakia and World War II. Albright provides fresh insights into the events that shaped her career and challenges us to think deeply about the moral dilemmas that arise in our own lives.”
Michael Korda
Prague Winter is not only a family story-a proud and moving one-but a brilliant and multilayered account of how Czechoslovakia was formed along the most idealistic lines in the aftermath of World War I. An altogether fascinating and inspiring read.”
István Deák
“An extraordinary book. . . . Albright artfully presents a wrenching tale of horror and darkness, but also one in which decent and brave people again and again had their say.”
Istvan Deak
"An extraordinary book. . . . Albright artfully presents a wrenching tale of horror and darkness, but also one in which decent and brave people again and again had their say."
Library Journal
Most people are aware of the result of the Munich agreement in 1938. Albright (born Marie Jana Korbelová), the first female U.S. secretary of state, provides a deeper account of the Czech Republic's road to independence. From Prague to the Terezin concentration camp (where many of her Jewish relatives perished) to the "winter" of the republic's existence as it endured the dictatorships of the Nazis and then the Communists, Albright details the situations and personalities prominent in this struggle. Though born only the year before the Munich agreement, Albright, the child of a Czech diplomat, has distinct insights into the moral dilemmas confronted by her countrymen. She spent the war in London with the exiled government and provides her childhood impressions of the Blitz. VERDICT Although categorized as a memoir, this book represents history made more vivid by Albright's personal perspective. It serves as a remembrance of the personalities who defined this era, including her father and other Czech democrats who helped create the independent republic after World War I. The accessible style and inclusion of notes and timelines make this an excellent addition to any library. Recommended to all who enjoy reading history from a personal perspective. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]—Maria Bagshaw, Elgin Community Coll. Lib., IL
Kirkus Reviews
The former U.S. secretary of state blends World War II–era history and memoir in her account of her discovery, at age 59, that she had lost more than two-dozen relatives in the Holocaust. Albright's (Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership, 2008, etc.) parents had never told her of her Jewish heritage, and in January 1997 she had only recently learned of it when a Washington Post reporter broke the larger story. She spent the ensuing years researching her family's history and the history of her native Czechoslovakia. She was aided in her endeavors by family material she found stored in boxes in her garage--and by a small research team. Born in 1937, the author naturally doesn't remember the war's earliest days, so the initial sections are principally a summary of history of the region and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. Occasionally, she slips into the first person to talk about the activities of her father, a career diplomat, and her mother, a diplomat's wife but also a woman very interested in the supernatural. The most gripping parts are those personal stories; the others mostly repeat what can be found in many histories of the war and Holocaust. Retellings do not, of course, diminish the horror, but Albright sometimes focuses more on the politics and the war than on the remembrance. The personal passages increase in number and detail as she grows older. Also engaging are the later sections, which deal with the postwar politics in Czechoslovakia, especially the communists' moves to subvert the fledgling democracy. Although much is conventional history, the unconventional--the personal--animates and brightens the narrative.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062030368
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/24/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
80,258
File size:
6 MB

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What People are saying about this

Walter Isaacson

“I was totally blown away by this book. It is a breathtaking combination of the historical and the personal. Albright confronts the brutal realities of the Holocaust and the conflicted moral choices it led to. An unforgettable tale of fascism and communism, courage and realism, families and heartache and love.

Vaclav Havel

“A remarkable story of adventure and passion, tragedy and courage set against the backdrop of occupied Czechoslovakia and World War II. Albright provides fresh insights into the events that shaped her career and challenges us to think deeply about the moral dilemmas that arise in our own lives.”

Leon Wieseltier

“A genuinely admirable book. Albright skillfully returns us to some of the darkest years of modern times. Spring eventually came to Prague, but in much of the world it is still winter. The love of democracy fills every one of these instructive and stirring pages.”

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