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"Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948," is a new memoir from Madeleine Albright, a greatly admired public figure who was United States Secretary of State from 1997-2001. She has also served on the National Security Council, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and on Capitol Hill. She is author of the New York Times bestsellers Madam Secretary: A Memoir;The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on Faith, God and World Affairs; and Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box.

The Czech-born Albright, as daughter of a prominent Czech diplomat/government official, was, from her earliest days, given an insider's view of history as it was being made in possibly the most tumultuous dozen years of modern history. Before she had turned twelve, she lived through the Nazi invasion/occupation of Czechoslovakia, a small, democratically-oriented, peace loving country, carved out of the fallen Austro-Hungarian Empire, and, unfortunately, landlocked, surrounded on all sides by potentially hostile nations, Germany, Hungary, Austria and Poland. Albright's father followed the Czech government in exile to the United Kingdom, where Albright and her family lived through the Battle of Britain, the almost total annihilation of European Jewry, and the European victory of the Allied Forces. On the family's return to Czechoslovakia, the communists invaded and occupied the small country. It found itself behind the Iron Curtain, its beloved leader Jan Masaryk murdered, probably by Stalinist thugs; thoroughly caught up in the Cold War. But, due to her father's gifts, Albright's family was able once more to escape bad times in Czechoslovakia, first to the U.K., then to the U.S. Albright has written this book drawing on her own memories, her parents' written accounts, interviews with their contemporaries, and newly available documents: there can be little doubt that she's done significant research, and she can deliver a tremendous amount of detail.

PRAGUE WINTER takes its readers from Prague, the beautiful, ancient capital of the country, to the desolate prison ghetto of Terezin. It was only decades later, in the mid-90's, that Albright discovered her family background was Jewish, and many of her relatives had died at Terezin, or, while being shipped out from there to other death camps. Albright also gives us quite a meaty slice of her Czech homeland's long and tangled history. And, of course, she was an eyewitness to many of the more significant events of World War II, and to the descent of the Iron Curtain that followed so quickly on the heels of peace.

The book tops out at over 400 pages of narrative, followed by many pages of notes, acknowledgements, index, etc. In fact, the author discusses, at great length, things that happened long ago and far way so far as many people may be concerned. So it may be more than many people will want to know on the subject, unless they have a specific interest in Mittel Europa, World War II, the Holocaust, Jewish history, Communist/Soviet history, diplomatic history. Because of my background and upbringing, I do have some of these specific interests, and so found much to absorb my interest. But I'm excited to be going to Prague, for my first visit, in a few months: it's a city I have long wanted to see, and I welcomed a lot of this information.
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on 13 August 2012
I find it interesting that the reviews so far are "too much Czech history" and "not enough Czech history."

The book is highly readable. The story of the role of her father is very interesting and one that could have been more central to the book. Some of the anecdotal Czechoslovak history points, sadly, are not correct. Or at least, we don't think so. So much of the story of the war is being reargued, reclarified and re-researched, that it is not surprising that some of the details are not accurate by what we know today. I would recommend the book to those interested in Czechoslovakia during the war. It is true that if you want something more academic, there are other sources that go more in-depth.
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on 24 November 2013
I love history and am very interested in the history of Czechoslovakia. This book was a wonderful chronicle of the history of this country throughout the years between the beginnings of the First Republic to the Velvet Revolution and especially of interest were the mention of personal experiences as her family knew many of the leaders involved in all the decisions during these years - I greatly admire Mrs. Albright. I could not put this book down!
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on 9 April 2014
Having had parents, who are now gone. But, we're from Czechoslovakia and in the concentration camps. I thought I knew much of what happened. Well I have been re-educated.
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on 13 August 2014
An excellent account of Madeleine Albright's unusual experiences of World War II and its aftermath together with the plight of the Czech Republic at that time.
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on 19 October 2015
Facinating. Not finished yet. Saw it in a book shop in Prague and came home and ordered it on Kindle. An amazing lady.
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on 25 October 2014
I am in love with Prague, have been for years and this book is superb, so well written so full of facts and feelings
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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....
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on 9 October 2013
This is my bedtime read, and it is entertaining, easy to read and does captivate. However, it does come across as somewhat siplifying the matters, and in place, especially when talking about her family, there is a strong pathos that makes you wince! But it is an American 'syndrom' to do that - glorify and boast about one's family, so maybe I just have to close my eyes over that? It is a strongly 'American' book in this sense, with it's clear divisions between good and bad, the heroes and the villans. Shame, if Madeleine Albright wrote more from the perspective of a Czech ex-patriot, rather than American ex Secretary, it would make for a better read.
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on 14 December 2013
I bought this book as a present - it was second hand but said to be in very good condition but I was very disappointed to find it arrived covered with library stamps, plastic covers, stickers and so on, none of which could be removed so I am too embarrassed to give it as a gift. At best library book look aside I'd class its actual condition as moderate - many of the pages are already curled and much loved. I would not rate this seller's honesty. However the book itself is an excellent read.
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