- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
Ships from International Warehouse (read more)
available for shipping only
Not available for In-store Pickup
This title in other editions
Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist Historyby Derek Sayer
Synopses & Reviews
Setting out to recover the roots of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the "city of light," Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris "the capital of the nineteenth century." In this eagerly anticipated sequel to his acclaimed Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History, Derek Sayer argues that Prague could well be seen as the capital of the much darker twentieth century. Ranging across twentieth-century Prague's astonishingly vibrant and always surprising human landscape, this richly illustrated cultural history describes how the city has experienced (and suffered) more ways of being modern than perhaps any other metropolis.
Located at the crossroads of struggles between democratic, communist, and fascist visions of the modern world, twentieth-century Prague witnessed revolutions and invasions, national liberation and ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, show trials, and snuffed-out dreams of "socialism with a human face." Yet between the wars, when Prague was the capital of Europe's most easterly parliamentary democracy, it was also a hotbed of artistic and architectural modernism, and a center of surrealism second only to Paris.
Focusing on these years, Sayer explores Prague's spectacular modern buildings, monuments, paintings, books, films, operas, exhibitions, and much more. A place where the utopian fantasies of the century repeatedly unraveled, Prague was tailor-made for surrealist André Breton's "black humor," and Sayer discusses the way the city produced unrivaled connoisseurs of grim comedy, from Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Hasek to Milan Kundera and Václav Havel. A masterful and unforgettable account of a city where an idling flaneur could just as easily be a secret policeman, this book vividly shows why Prague can teach us so much about the twentieth century and what made us who we are.
"Cultural historian Sayer (The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History) delivers a dense but captivating portrait of 20th-century Prague, a city that entered the 20th century as part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, then successively became a democracy, a Nazi-occupied Protectorate, a Soviet puppet state, and finally a 'reborn post-Communist republic.' Mainly covering the period from 1914 — 1991, Sayer highlights Prague's cultural landscape (and dreamscape), particularly the time between the world wars, when the capital was a crucible of modernist architecture and art, and a mecca for surrealist artists and writers from Kafka to Toyen, as well as appreciative Parisian visitors AndrÃ© Breton (founder of surrealism) and poet Paul Ã‰luard. For Sayer, boulevards, buildings, squares, clocks, hotels, poems, paintings, and operas conjure fertile associations, allowing him to delve into the city's rich political and cultural history. Noting that Prague became a place where 'modernist dreams have time and again unraveled,' he explores the effect the Communist Party, Nazism, the world wars, and the Soviet takeover had on the city's artists and architecture. The breadth of Sayer's knowledge is encyclopedic, and those willing to stay the course will be rewarded." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
While the specifics of individual wars vary, they share a common epilogue: the task of finding and identifying the and#8220;disappeared.and#8221; The Bosnian war of the early 1990s, which destroyed the sovereign state of Yugoslavia, is no exception. In Working in the Killing Fields, Howard Ball focuses on recent developments in the technology of forensic science and on the work of forensic professionals in Bosnia following that conflict. Ball balances the examination of complex features of new forensic technology with insights into the lives of the men and women from around the globe who are tasked with finding and excavating bodies and conducting pathological examinations. Having found the disappeared, however, these same pathologists must then also explain the cause of death to international-court criminal prosecutors and surviving families of the victims. Ball considers the physical dangers these professionals regularly confront while performing their site excavations, as well as the emotional pain, including post-traumatic stress disorder, they contend with while in Bosnia and after they leave the killing fields.
Working in the Killing Fields integrates discussion of cutting-edge forensic technology into a wider view of what these searches mean, the damage they do to people, and the healing and good they bring to those in search of answers. Even though the Balkan wars took place two decades ago, the fields where so many men, women, and children died still have gruesome and disturbing stories to tell. Ball puts the spotlight on the forensic professionals tasked with telling that story and on what their work means to them as individuals and to the wider worldand#8217;s understanding of genocide and war.
"A triumph! Sayer's indispensable work is at once magisterial and puckish, authoritative and subversive, intellectually dense and brilliantly accessible."--Michael Beckerman, New York University
"This is a fascinating and brilliantly written narrative that combines elements of literary guide, biography, cultural history, and essay. Writing with warm engagement, and drawing on his detailed knowledge of Czech literature, art, architecture, music, and other fields, Derek Sayer provides a rich picture of a dynamic cultural landscape."--Jindrich Toman, University of Michigan
About the Author
Derek Sayer is Professor of Cultural History at Lancaster University and a former Canada Research Chair at the University of Alberta. His previous books include The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History (Princeton) and Capitalism and Modernity. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations xi
Translation and Pronunciation xix
2 Zone 33
3 Metamorphoses 79
4 Modernism in the Plural 144
5 Body Politic 221
6 On the Edge of an Abyss 288
7 Love's Boat Shattered against Everyday Life 356
8 The Gold of Time 426
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » History » Contemporary (1945-)