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A Cup of Coffee with My Interrogator: Prague Chronicles Hardcover – 15 Oct 1987

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Readers International; 1st Edition edition (15 Oct. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930523342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930523343
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 915,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A collection of essays explores life in contemporary Czechoslovakia and discusses subjects including Gandhi, coffeehouses, and human rights.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Kafka-esque world 12 Feb. 2009
By D. Coffing - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Outstanding collection of short essays by Vaculik. The writer was often imprisoned or interrogated by the Czech security police over a period of years and these oftentimes hilarious writings originally came out in samizdat format (unofficially printed and passed around by hand, one reader to another).
Well worth a read, the pieces are short, witty and beautifully written and provide a window on the Communist era in Czechoslovakia.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
From repression to glasnost: twenty years under the Soviet thumb 28 Dec. 2007
By D. Cloyce Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Most famous for his authorship of the "2000 Words" manifesto issued during the Prague Spring of 1968, Ludvik Vaculik has also written hundreds of "feuilletons"--short essays, slivers of gossip, eulogies and tributes, or political commentary that originally (during the 1970s and early 1980s) were distributed secretively among Czech dissidents. This slim volume, translated and published 20 years ago, collects 23 of those pieces written between 1977 and 1987.

Although a number of the items refer to events and people that will be unfamiliar to most American readers, nearly all manage to be entertaining and informative--alternating between humorous and disturbing--but always with a devil-may-care, tongue-in-cheek flippancy that makes the collection as a whole quite endearing. In the background is the specter of the secret police and its interrogators; Vaculik assumes that much of his prose might reach the eyes of government officials, and so he subtly digs and teases, as in the title piece: "I know you'll put all this into one of your articles," says the lieutenant-colonel who has confiscated all his writing. "And you'll call it: 'A Cup of Coffee with the Interrogator.'"

The last pieces are triumphant in their cynical optimism, whether from the awe in being allowed to watch Richard Attenborough's film "Ghandhi" in a public theater ("dangerous, good thoughts which will go on maturing with time") or from the skepticism with which he greets the "glasnost" paternally granted to the Czech government by the Soviets ("So that, should Moscow now order us to be allowed freedom, I'll resist."). The Czechs had played Charlie Brown in Lucy's football game so often that Vaculik's pessimism is understandable, but, in spite of himself, he can't help but instill the final pieces reprinted here with the delusion of hope.
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