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Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948by Madeleine Albright
Synopses & Reviews
Before Madeleine Albright turned twelve, her life was shaken by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia — the country where she was born — the Battle of Britain, the near total destruction of European Jewry, the Allied victory in World War II, the rise of communism, and the onset of the Cold War.
Albright's experiences, and those of her family, provide a lens through which to view the most tumultuous dozen years in modern history. Drawing on her memory, her parents' written reflections, interviews with contemporaries, and newly available documents, Albright recounts a tale that is by turns harrowing and inspiring. Prague Winter is an exploration of the past with timeless dilemmas in mind and, simultaneously, a journey with universal lessons that is intensely personal.
The book takes readers from the Bohemian capital's thousand-year-old castle to the bomb shelters of London, from the desolate prison ghetto of Terezin to the highest councils of European and American government. Albright reflects on her discovery of her family's Jewish heritage many decades after the war, on her Czech homeland's tangled history, and on the stark moral choices faced by her parents and their generation. Often relying on eyewitness descriptions, she tells the story of how millions of ordinary citizens were ripped from familiar surroundings and forced into new roles as exiled leaders and freedom fighters, resistance organizers and collaborators, victims and killers. These events of enormous complexity are nevertheless shaped by concepts familiar to any growing child: fear, trust, adaptation, the search for identity, the pressure to conform, the quest for independence, and the difference between right and wrong.
"No one who lived through the years of 1937 to 1948," Albright writes, "was a stranger to profound sadness. Millions of innocents did not survive, and their deaths must never be forgotten. Today we lack the power to reclaim lost lives, but we have a duty to learn all that we can about what happened and why." At once a deeply personal memoir and an incisive work of history, Prague Winter serves as a guide to the future through the lessons of the past — as seen through the eyes of one of the international community's most respected and fascinating figures.
"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 TerezÃn, 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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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." Vaclav Havel
"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. Walter Isaacson
"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." Leon Wieseltier
"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." Michael Korda, The Daily Beast
"Albright has supplemented a deeply researched history of World War II-era Czechoslovakia with a moving family narrative." The Daily
"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 Philadelphia Inquirer
"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 Los Angeles Times
"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 Washington Post Book World
"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 New York Review of Books
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.
About the Author
Madeleine Albright served as U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001 and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997. She is the author of three New York Times bestselling books: Madam Secretary; The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs; and Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership. She is founder of The Albright Group LLC and Albright Capital Management LLC.
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