The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation: Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism available in Paperback
The material effects of World War II, in combination with Eastern Europe's disappointingly undemocratic interwar history, placed radical social change on the postwar agenda across the region and shaped the debates that took place in immediate postwar Czech society. These debates adopted both a cultural form, in struggles over the meaning of the recent past and the nation's position on the East-West continuum, and a directly political form, in battles over the meaning of socialism. The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation examines the most important and politically resonant fields of historical and cultural debate in Czech society immediately after World War II. Bradley Abrams finds that communist public figures were largely successful in controlling debate over the nation's recent pastthe interwar First Republic and the experiences of Munich and World War IIand over its location on the East–West continuum. This success preceded and was mirrored in the struggles over the political issue of the times: socialism. The communists engaged their political foes in the democratic socialist and Roman Catholic camps, and, surprisingly, found significant support from a major Protestant church. Abrams's careful reading of major publications re-creates a postwar mood sympathetic to radical social change, questioning the standard view of the communists' rise to power. This book not only contributes to the specific literature on Czech history, but also raises questions about the relationship between war and radical social change, about the communist takeover of the region, and about the role of intellectuals in public life.
About the Author
Bradley F. Abrams is associate professor of history at Columbia University.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Introduction: The Cold War and Contemporary Understandings of the Communist Takeover of Czechoslovakia Part 2 Part I: Czech Intellectuals Enter the Postwar World Chapter 3 World War II and the East European Revolution Chapter 4 Intellectuals in the Czech Environment Chapter 5 Four Groups of Czech Intellectuals Part 6 Part II: The Interpretation and Reinterpretation of Czech History and the Reorientation of the Czech Nation Chapter 7 The Communist Aim: The Creation of a New Czechoslovakia Chapter 8 The Battle Over the Recent Past I: The Experiences of Munich and World War II Chapter 9 The Battle Over the Recent Past II: The First Republic and Tomá? G. Masaryk Chapter 10 The Shift in Sensibilities and Generations: May 5, 1945 Versus October 28, 1918 Chapter 11 The Reorientation of National Identity: Czechs Between East and West Part 12 Part III: The Meaning of Socialism Chapter 13 Socialism and Communist Intellectuals: The "Czechoslovak Road to Socialism" Chapter 14 Socialism and Democratic Socialist Intellectuals: The "New Socialist Ethos" Chapter 15 Socialism and Roman Catholic Intellectuals: The "Fateful Struggle between Spirit and Matter" Chapter 16 Socialism and Protestant Intellectuals: The "Kingdom of God on Earth"? Chapter 17 Conclusion: The End of Czechoslovak Democracy and the Rise of Communism in Eastern Europe