Reviews for Prague Winter : A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948
Booklist Reviews 2012 March #2
*Starred Review* Albright learned, when secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, that her ancestry was Jewish and that many of her relatives perished in the Holocaust. Impelled to research her family history, she here integrates her discoveries and a historical narrative of Czechoslovakian politics in the WWII era, focusing on "why we make the choices we do." Born in 1937 to a Czech diplomat, Albright recalls her earliest memories of German-bombed England, to which her family had escaped from their Nazi-conquered homeland. She fondly remembers her elder cousin, Daša, but wonders why Daša's younger sister, Milena, had been left behind in Prague. A prewar picture of the three girls poignantly depicts the stakes of Albright's core concern, which she applies to numerous political crises that afflicted Czechoslovakia. Should the country have fought in 1938? Should its exiled leaders have assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in 1942? Could Democrats have staved off the Communists in 1948? Through the connection of her father to Czechoslovak leaders, Albright shows the impact on individuals of such historical questions, accessing political history for a wide readership, which she seals with her powerfully somber accounting of the fates of her extended family, Milena included. No reader will close her memoir unmoved. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Albright, who served as U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, is also the author of three New York Times best-selling books; her latest will have a 150,000-copy first printing and heavy publisher promotion. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #2
The former U.S. secretary of state blends World War II–era history and memoir in her account of her discovery, at age 59, that she had lost more than two-dozen relatives in the Holocaust. Albright's (Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership, 2008, etc.) parents had never told her of her Jewish heritage, and in January 1997 she had only recently learned of it when a Washington Post reporter broke the larger story. She spent the ensuing years researching her family's history and the history of her native Czechoslovakia. She was aided in her endeavors by family material she found stored in boxes in her garage--and by a small research team. Born in 1937, the author naturally doesn't remember the war's earliest days, so the initial sections are principally a summary of history of the region and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. Occasionally, she slips into the first person to talk about the activities of her father, a career diplomat, and her mother, a diplomat's wife but also a woman very interested in the supernatural. The most gripping parts are those personal stories; the others mostly repeat what can be found in many histories of the war and Holocaust. Retellings do not, of course, diminish the horror, but Albright sometimes focuses more on the politics and the war than on the remembrance. The personal passages increase in number and detail as she grows older. Also engaging are the later sections, which deal with the postwar politics in Czechoslovakia, especially the communists' moves to subvert the fledgling democracy. Although much is conventional history, the unconventional--the personal--animates and brightens the narrative. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Albright really tells the story of the Czech struggle, and also intersperses her own memories, and her family's personal involvement. Her writing style is engaging, and her story, and the story of her country, are moving, dramatic, and touching. I was enlightened by her recounting of the brave people who tried to save their country, and of their post-war perserverence. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 May #1
Most people are aware of the result of the Munich agreement in 1938. Albright (born Marie Jana Korbelová), the first female U.S. secretary of state, provides a deeper account of the Czech Republic's road to independence. From Prague to the Terezin concentration camp (where many of her Jewish relatives perished) to the "winter" of the republic's existence as it endured the dictatorships of the Nazis and then the Communists, Albright details the situations and personalities prominent in this struggle. Though born only the year before the Munich agreement, Albright, the child of a Czech diplomat, has distinct insights into the moral dilemmas confronted by her countrymen. She spent the war in London with the exiled government and provides her childhood impressions of the Blitz. VERDICT Although categorized as a memoir, this book represents history made more vivid by Albright's personal perspective. It serves as a remembrance of the personalities who defined this era, including her father and other Czech democrats who helped create the independent republic after World War I. The accessible style and inclusion of notes and timelines make this an excellent addition to any library. Recommended to all who enjoy reading history from a personal perspective. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]--Maria Bagshaw, Elgin Community Coll. Lib., IL [Page 85]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 February #4
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 Terezín, 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) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC