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A broad sweep of history - and plenty of errors
on 27 July 2012
I bought this volume of Dr Albright's autobiography on the strength of a positive review by Paul Wilson, the noted Czech expert, in the New York Review. My interest was more in the history of Czechoslovakia that was promised, rather than the (admittedly fascinating) history of Albright's family. There is plenty of history, although I did not learn as much as I had hoped. Her accounts of turning points such as the Czechoslovak declaration of independence, Operation Anthropoid (the assassination of Heydrich) and the (probable) murder of Jan Masaryk are excellent.
However, my pleasure in the book was wrecked by a mass of small errors - and if a writer allows small errors that we can easily detect, what bigger inaccuracies are there that we do not know about?
This list is far from exhaustive:
The British aristocracy do not shoot geese in the last half of August, they shoot grouse.
Children being evacuated from London in the war did not all depart through Paddington station, most London rail termini were used.
In the "Guide to Personalities", why is Jozef Tiso, the collaborationist wartime President of Slovakia listed with the Czech parachutists of Operation Anthropoid?
"A captured codebook allowed the Americans to decipher enemy U-boat communications..." is a phrase that is wrong about who broke the U-boat Enigma code, and leaves the question of who captured the codebook hanging in a misleading way.
I hope she was more careful when she was the US secretary of state....