Today we’d like to announce a very special talk of by fellow SVU* member, Kevin J. McNamara about his book, Dreams of a Great Small Nation. This book is a wonderful narrative about a part of history that could have been lost to the Western world, had not McNamara painstakingly collected documents, had them translated, and pieced them together in a book that makes this incredible story come to life.
This is a talk you do not want to miss…
This special event will be taking place on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at 2 pm at the Slovak Embassy, 3523 International Court, Washington, DC 20008.
You must RSVP via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (571) 265-4436.
Kevin J. McNamara is a former journalist for Calkins Media Inc., and a former Capitol Hill aide to U.S. Congressman R. Lawrence Coughlin. He is an Associate Scholar of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia. He earned the B.A. in journalism and M.A. in international politics from Temple University, where he was a student of noted military historian Russell F. Weigley. McNamara also earned a certificate in national security law from the University of Virginia’s School of Law.
A former contributing editor to Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs, he has been published in The American Spectator, Commentary, Defense News, National Review Online, Orbis, Society, and The University Bookman, as well as in the Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Detroit News, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Seattle Times. His work has been translated into Chinese and cited by both the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Commission on Broadcasting to the People’s Republic of China.
McNamara is currently serving as a consultant on a film that is in production in the Czech Republic, The Legionaries: Siberian Anabasis, under the direction of famed Czech director Petr Nikolaev.
This book, Dreams of a Great Small Nation, tells the story of 40-65,000 émigrés, deserters, and POWs from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its multinational army who are cast adrift inside Russia at the end of the Great War.
Lost amidst the Russian Revolution as Moscow’s new Soviet regime withdraws from the war, these obscure Czech and Slovak subjects – long oppressed by the German rulers of Austria-Hungary – are organized by an aging fugitive professor from Prague, Tomas G. Masaryk, into an ad hoc army.
They turn on the hated Habsburg rulers of their native Austria-Hungary, which fights alongside Germany, to join the Allied war against Berlin and Vienna – in return for an Allied promise to create an independent nation of their own after the war. Their efforts to reach the trenches in France leads them on a perilous journey across Siberia, where an altercation leads to a brawl that launches one of the wildest misadventures in modern history.
Kevin J. McNamara first learned of the incredible exploits of this Czecho-Slovak Legion during a journey across eastern Siberia in 1993, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Traveling almost 2,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railway between Irkutsk and Khabarovsk, he happened upon the story of these legionnaires, who riveted the world’s attention in 1918 by seizing the entire length of Siberia and nearly toppling Moscow’s Soviet regime. Their improvised, yet powerful, army played a role in the First World War, Russian Revolution and Civil War, Allied Intervention, the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the founding of Czecho-Slovakia, and the diplomacy that ended the war and remade the map of Europe.
McNamara subsequently acquired and had translated from Czech to English more than 100 first-hand accounts by the very men who served in the Czecho-Slovak Legion. Their personal stories were published in Prague in the 1920s in five volumes of a work called Cestami Odboje: Jak Zily A Kudy Tahly CS. Legie (The Road to Resistance: How the Czech Legion Lived and Fought), but such works were suppressed following the Nazi and Soviet conquests of Czecho-Slovakia.
No longer censored following the collapse of communist rule in Prague, these first-hand accounts have never before been rendered in English.
We posted a documentary about the Legionnaires here and also have great personal interest because my great-grandfather, Josef Šimek (1879–1942), was a member of the Czechoslovak Legion and was also a POW during the period of 1914 to 1920.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more and we highly recommend you attend if you are in the area.
*The SVU is an independent non-profit international cultural organization dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, the free dissemination of ideas, and the fostering of contact among people. It brings together scholars, scientists, artists, writers, students, lawyers, businessmen and others, throughout the world who have, because of their ethnic background or professional calling, have an interest in the Czech Republic and/ or Slovakia, their histories, peoples or their cultural and intellectual contributions. To join us and become a member of Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences (SVU), please click here.
- Kevin J. McNamara’s website, here.
- Kevin J. McNamara’s blog, here.
- Kevin J. McNamara’s appearances, here.
- Dreams of a Great Small Nation at the Wall Street Journal, here.
- The Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington, here.
- Buy the book, on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble.
If you are in the area, we do hope you’ll try to attend this important talk and great opportunity!