I am an avid reader and what I love to read more than anything is stories from my birthplace, Czechoslovakia. In today’s post I am sharing some rare books which are in English and allow you to see a Czechoslovakia of days gone past, often through the eyes and experiences of non-Czechs.
A Wayfarer in Czecho-Slovakia by E. I. Robson with Pencil Drawings by J. R. E. Howard is part of the the Wayfarer Series of books for travelers. It’s a lovely guide of the country in the late 1920.
A Wayfarer in Czecho-Slovakia is available to BUY NOW.
In The Claws Of The Vulture: A Remarkable Story by Marlene Krepelka Patterson is the true story of a Marlene who was born in Vienna in 1930 and grew up under the German Third Reich. It is an inspiring story of of her personal journey of faith; from her idyllic early childhood years in picturesque Austria and Czechoslovakia through the dark days of World War II under the German Reich, to a new life in America.
In The Claws Of The Vulture: A Remarkable Story is available to BUY NOW.
The Angry Mountain by Hammond Innes is a novel which is narrated in the first person by Dick Farrell, a former RAF airman who was a POW during WWII. It is set in the early Cold War era and takes place in Czechoslovakia and Italy. The Pilsen he portrays during the time is well worth the read.
The Angry Mountain is available to BUY NOW.
Sunshine Country: A Story of Czechoslovakia by Kristína Royová (Cristina Roy)
The boy loves his rugged mountain home, and he enjoys serving old Juriga. But why is he living with and working for an old mountaineer who is neither his father nor his grandfather? And what is on the other side of his mountain, where the sun seems to disappear every afternoon? Is it the rumored valley where the sun never goes down? Go with him on his explorations to find answers. Thrill with him at treasure that he does find on the other side of the mountain, a treasure that changes the lives of everyone it touches. Feel with him the beautiful moments when the mystery of his life unfolds and he finds real family. This factually based story is set in the mountains of Czechoslovakia in the early 1900s. Allow the story’s simple truth to lead you to the Land where the sun truly never sets.
Sunshine Country: A Story of Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
The Lost Face by Josef Nesvadba was hailed as “Best Science Fiction from Czechoslovakia”. It is an interesting collection of science fiction stories. This story collection was issued in Czechoslovakia in 1964 and in England in 1970 under the title of ‘In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman’. It contains eight short science fiction stories by Nesvadba. It includes the titular work ‘The Lost Face’ alongside ‘In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman’, ‘The Death of an Apeman’, ‘Inventor of his Own Undoing’ and ‘The Trial Nobody Ever Heard Of’.
The Lost Face is available to BUY NOW.
Homes of Primeval Man: Wandering in the Caves of Czechoslovakia by Josef Kunsky. About the Archaeology of the Czech Republic, this book has many images and paints a great picture on the oldest inhabitants of our country.
Homes of Primeval Man: Wandering in the Caves of Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
They Betrayed Czechoslovakia by G.J. George. Reading the cover of this book, you immediately know what it’s about. Good reading.
They Betrayed Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
The Road Through Czechoslovakia by Dorothy Giles
This is an extremely charming book that seems to be unknown today. It is a shame that her talent is not acknowledged today. It was written in 1930 and much has changed, however, there is real humanity and insight in this book that would stand up today.
The Road Through Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
Thomas G. Masaryk and the Jews: A Collection of Essays written by T.G. Masaryk is an amazing book. Americans of the Jewish faith will find much in these pages which will bring new meaning to the name Masaryk. As the champion of an unknown Jew charged with committing a ritual murder, Masaryk became the spokesman for the entire Jewish people in Czechoslovakia, and yes, even the world. The purpose in publishing this collection of essays was to do honor to a great humanitarian. The name of Masaryk and what he did to liberate his country will serve as a beacon light to those in whose hearts the spark of freedom still burns and who would not rest until Czechoslovakia was once again a free and democratic nation.
Thomas G. Masaryk and the Jews: A Collection of Essays is available to BUY NOW.
A Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn
Martha Gellhorn was one of the first—and most widely read—female war correspondents of the twentieth century. She is best known for her fearless reporting in Europe before and during WWII and for her brief marriage to Ernest Hemingway, but she was also an acclaimed novelist.
In 1938, before the Munich pact, Gellhorn visited Prague and witnessed its transformation from a proud democracy preparing to battle Hitler to a country occupied by the German army. Born out of this experience, A Stricken Field follows a journalist who returns to Prague after its annexation and finds her efforts to obtain help for the refugees and to convey the shocking state of the country both frustrating and futile. A convincing account of a people under the brutal oppression of the Gestapo, A Stricken Field is Gellhorn’s most powerful work. (You may be interested in reading our post Martha Gellhorn Reports on Czechoslovakia in 1938.)
A Stricken Field is available to BUY NOW.
August 21st: The Rape Of Czechoslovakia by Colin Chapman
This is the first English language account in book form of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, describing in detail the events between August 21st and October 1st, 1968. Written by Colin Chapman, Foreign News Editor of London’s Sunday’s Times, the book tells the tragic and inspiring story of Czech defiance. Keeping in mind that this book was written virtually as the Russian invasion was taking place, it’s a first-rate piece of journalism. Chapman was an experienced foreign correspondent for The Times of London, and his report from Czechoslovakia reflects both the ease and difficulties of getting accurate information as events unfolded. Interesting now to read it (as it was written in 1968) with the hindsight of knowing what would come next. If you’re looking for a relatively quick introduction to the Prague Spring and its aftermath, this is a good choice.
August 21st: The Rape Of Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
The Short March: The Communist Takeover in Czechoslovakia 1945-1948 by Karel Kaplan. The Short March is a fascinating insider account of the events that led up to the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948. Using documents smuggled out of Cold War Prague, Kaplan puts together an inning-by-inning account of the arguments and negotiations among the leaders of the country’s short-lived post-war democracy. Incredible how Stalin managed to so easily complete the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948 after 30 years of struggle by Czech democrats to keep the country free and democratic.
The Short March: The Communist Takeover in Czechoslovakia 1945-1948 is available to BUY NOW.
Wandering in Czechoslovakia by Gerald Druce
John Gerald Frederick Druce, a British chemist and one of the discoverers of the element rhenium, was a long-time supporter of Czechoslovakia and had published several books on this Central European state since the early 1930s. He almost certainly participated in the jubilee as a private individual, and not as the official representative of his university. (Historical side note: He had been invited on the initiative of his former fellow student Jaroslav Heyrovský of the faculty of natural sciences, a physical chemist and the only Czech scientist to be awarded the Nobel Prize at that time.)
Wandering in Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
Czecho-Slovakia: A Critical History by Kurt Glaser
Communism did not come suddenly to Czechoslovakia in February, 1948. The “February Revolution” of that year was the inevitable outgrowth of a tragedy which had its roots in the denial of self-determination to the Sudeten Germans and Slovaks after World War I and its climax in the alliance which Dr. Benes made with the Soviets during World War II. In writing Czecho-Slovakia: A Critical History, Kurt Glaser has searched primary sources in order to assemble the facts about an area which has always been a key to Central Europe. Citing Czech, Slovak and German documents, he shows that almost half the citizens of Czechoslovakia were denied the full benefits of the famed “model democracy,” and that attempt to maintain Czech hegemony over the non-Czech peoples intensified the nationality tensions which has wrecked the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The text is supplemented by eight pages of photographs and by two specially prepared maps. Drawing on firsthand accounts and on material collected in interviews with exes in both America and Europe, Dr. Glaser shows how Benes and his information minister, Ripka, sold the Czech birthright to freedom to the Kremlin ignored to secure a return to office (though not to power). He tells how the Russians engineered the Prague “revolt” of 1945 in order to prevent the emergence of a conservative Czech government, and he gives a detailed account of the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, a measure which gave the Kremlin a political mortgage on Czechoslovakia. The last four chapters of the book are devoted to events since 1948 and to current problems confronting American policy makers. The dynamics of a “people’s democracy” and of Czecho-Slovakia’s role in Russian strategy are analyzed, and proposals are made for American policies directed toward the liberation of the Czechs, Slovaks, and other enslaved peoples.
Czecho-Slovakia: A Critical History is available to BUY NOW.
Czechoslovakia Within by Bertram De Colonna
This book reads a bit like the man hates Czechoslovakia. At least that is what I gained from the ‘tone’. It’s certainly interesting though, how he decides to share his information. You can decide for yourself with the following excerpt from the book:
“Czecho-Slovakia comprises the provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia, all of which formerly belonged to the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. It consists, in fact, largely of the remnants of the old Dual Monarchy and inherits problems implicit in the merger of a number of widely differing peoples into one State marked by an ethnographic Babel. Every accusation brought by England against the Austrian Monarchy in pre-War days is applicable to [vi] an even greater degree against present-day Czecho-Slovakia. In the old days there was at least the personal touch, such as our own country knows, and the Kaiser Franz Josef had a wide popularity. To-day the only symbol of unity is the artificial constitution promulgated after the cessation of hostilities. There are no traditions to hold the various parts of this politician-made State together.”
Czechoslovakia Within is available to BUY NOW.
Where Cultures Meet The Story of the Jews of Czechoslovakia by Natalia Berger.
[From Preface] The exhibition about the Jews of Czechoslovakia does not deal only with historical facts. It also presents the cultural abundance and intellectual spirit which characterizes this unique Jewish community. It was conceived while Prague was still under a regime that encouraged anti-Jewish propaganda and demonstrated hostility to Zionism and Israel. By the time of the exhibition’s opening at Beth Hatefutsoth in spring 1990, a new Czechoslovakia, once again headed by a courageous individual, an intellectual and a man of letters, had entered the international arena.
Where Cultures Meet The Story of the Jews of Czechoslovakia is available to BUY NOW.
Sands of Time by Otto Kerr is a novel written in 1964 based on the author’s experiences in Czechoslovakia.
Sands of Time is available to BUY NOW.
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