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Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed [Paperback]

Mary Heimann
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Jan 2011
This book, the most thoroughly researched and accurate history of Czechoslovakia to appear in English, tells the story of the country from its founding in 1918 to partition in 1992 - from fledgling democracy through Nazi occupation, Communist rule, invasion by the Soviet Union to - at last - democracy again. The common Western view of Czechoslovakia has been that of a small nation which was sacrificed at Munich in 1938, betrayed to the Soviets in 1948 and which rebelled heroically against the repression of the Soviet Union during the Prague Spring of 1968. Mary Heimann dispels these myths and shows how intolerant nationalism and an unhelpful sense of victimhood led Czech and Slovak authorities to discriminate against minorities, compete with the Nazis to persecute Jews and Gypsies and pave the way for the Communist police state. She also reveals Alexander Dubcek, held to be a national hero and standard-bearer for democracy, as an unprincipled apparatchik. Well written, revisionist and accessible, this groundbreaking book should become the standard history of Czechoslovakia for years to come.

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Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed + Battle for the Castle: The Myth of Czechoslovakia in Europe, 1914-1948
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (11 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300172427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300172423
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.8 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"'Heimann's account is a polemic that stimulates interest in a country often ignored in the great sweep of 20th century European history.' (Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times) 'For anyone with a serious interest in Czech history, this is an essential work.' (Frank Kuznik, The Prague Post) 'This is truly a history of Czechoslovakia, not just of Czechs and Slovaks in the twentieth century.' (Kieran Williams, The Times Literary Supplement)"

About the Author

Mary Heimann is senior lecturer in the History Department at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SO.MANY.MISTAKES. 26 July 2011
Format:Hardcover
This book claims that :

-Adolf Hitler fought in Habsburg army.
(Not true,he was in Bavarian army)

-There was no Slovak landscape on Czechoslovak postage stamps till 1925 because of Czech chauvinism.
(True.But it's also true that on postage stamps were NO LANDSCARES AT ALL,till 1926.No Slovak,No Czech,none.)

-Milan Rastislav Stefanik wasn't pictured on postage stamps till 1935 coz he was Slovak and Czechs chauvinistic.
(Again,true.But again till 1935 there was NO person on Czechoslovakian stamps with exception of President.)

-Picture of Hitler in Prague was used on one of first postage stamps in Protectorate.
(Simply not true.This stamp is from 1943.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Petr
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is certainly not an objective historical account of Czechoslovakia. It truly is vitriolic, plagued with bias (the "mythical entity called Czechs" still rings in my ears. Were the Irish, after hundreds of years of factual occupation by the English, at the time of birth of their state in the early 1920's also a mythical entity?) and inaccuracies.

However, if you don't treat the book as an objective historical description of Czechoslovakia but rather a list of objections against the prevailing Czech-favouring historical accounts of the country, it shows its great value. Mary Heimann is an unforgiving, passionate opponent of the established historical views of Czechoslovakia and as such a valuable opponent in a discussion. Although heavily biased, dreadfully disproportionate in her critique, and sometimes clearly wrong in her factual knowledge, she still reminds us Czechs some very unpleasant facts.

One of the highlights of Mary Heimann's book is the reminder that if Czechoslovakia was to respect the principle of self-determination of nations (which was the core principle giving rise to Czechoslovakia itself after WWI), it probably never had the right to originate in the territorial extent it did in 1918, despite the historical territorial claims of the Bohemian state, ignoring the rights of self-determination of Germans, Hungarians and other nations defeated in WWI. Also, in the current Czech Republic, the Munich agreement is unequivocally considered an indisputable act of injustice against Czechoslovakia. However, as reminded by Mary Heimann, if the same right of self-determination that served Czechs and Slovaks in 1918 was to apply on Sudeten Germans in 1938, was the Munich agreement, at least in terms of self-determination of Sudeten Germans, really so wrong?
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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars one sided and lacking competence 3 Feb 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is little doubt that Mary Heimann finds not a single native person to her liking in her vitriolic interpretation of the Czech history. She knows about Czechoslovakia more than Lord Runciman and Neville Chamberlain but only just. Despite over 900 references and plethora of "primary" and "secondary" sources her work is riddled with countless errors. Some of the errors betray the lack of elementary general knowledge including basic historical facts. Indeed when Miss Heimann makes statements not backed by her sources (many of them flawed anyway) that some startling deficiencies come to light. Her knowledge of culture is practically nonexistent - thus this aspect of the Czech and Slovak history is virtually omitted from her book. When she tries to do so - then the results are catastrophic. She certainly should know who Dvorak was. Why she calls him an "Austrian Slav" is a mystery. He never played polkas and mazurkas in his (nonexistent) village band. He became world -wide known after the publication of Slavonic Dances, having composed beforehand about 80 works including operas and symphonies. His talents were recognised by no other than Brahms and not because of Festival March published when Dvorak had been already famous.
As far as Smetana is concerned - Heimann gets at least the name and years of birth and death right but that is all.
Miss Heimann's political and military history is not much better. She produces some real shockers: Soviet - German non aggression pact is placed in 1938. The Heydrich's assassin Kubis did not take poison and was not flushed out but mortally wounded. Havel was not elected as a president by a Senate in 1990 but by the Parliament (Federal Assembly).Fucik did not die in the hands of Gestapo but was sentenced to death by the Peoples Court in Berlin.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice addition to the historiography of Czechoslovakia.
It's a very helpful book if you are interested in Czechoslovakia. The author adds to Czechoslovak history which for a long time has been quite narrow. Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2011 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Too critical to be objective.
Mary Heimann questions from the word go Czechoslovakia's right to have existed. She produces all sorts of arguments to prove her case. Read more
Published on 1 Sep 2010 by Richmond
5.0 out of 5 stars A FRESH REVIEW OF CZECH HISTORY
A very interesting look on Czech history that challenges some of the myths about it. I find very healthy the controversy that books like this help to create. Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2010 by R. Lago Arenas
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
Majority of Czech historians and Czechs paint an unrealistic portrait when it comes to the history of the country: that it's arisen because of terrible oppression under... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2010 by D. Siska
1.0 out of 5 stars The Book That Failed
Offering some useful historical insights in places it is nonetheless a nasty and spiteful book. The author presents a biased view almost to the extent of making the reader... Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2010 by Blue Monkey
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived Early
A must read for anyone who is interested in the history of Czechoslovakia. This book is really easy to read, highly informative and takes an original perspective on events.
Published on 10 Nov 2009 by F. H. Kahir
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