Before Madeleine Albright turned twelve, her life was shaken by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia - the country where she was born - the Battle of Britain, the near total destruction of European Jewry, the Allied victory in World War II, the rise of communism, and the onset of the Cold War.
Albright's experiences, and those of her family, provide a lens through which to view the most tumultuous dozen years in modern history. Drawing on her memory, her parents' written reflections, interviews with contemporaries, and newly available documents, Albright recounts a tale that is by turns harrowing and inspiring. Prague Winter is an exploration of the past with timeless dilemmas in mind and, simultaneously, a journey with universal lessons that is intensely personal.
The book takes readers from the Bohemian capital's thousand-year-old castle to the bomb shelters of London, from the desolate prison ghetto of TerezÍn to the highest councils of European and American government. Albright reflects on her discovery of her family's Jewish heritage many decades after the war, on her Czech homeland's tangled history, and on the stark moral choices faced by her parents and their generation. Often relying on eyewitness descriptions, she tells the story of how millions of ordinary citizens were ripped from familiar surroundings and forced into new roles as exiled leaders and freedom fighters, resistance organizers and collaborators, victims and killers. These events of enormous complexity are nevertheless shaped by concepts familiar to any growing child: fear, trust, adaptation, the search for identity, the pressure to conform, the quest for independence, and the difference between right and wrong.
"No one who lived through the years of 1937 to 1948," Albright writes, "was a stranger to profound sadness. Millions of innocents did not survive, and their deaths must never be forgotten. Today we lack the power to reclaim lost lives, but we have a duty to learn all that we can about what happened and why." At once a deeply personal memoir and an incisive work of history, Prague Winter serves as a guide to the future through the lessons of the past - as seen through the eyes of one of the international community's most respected and fascinating figures.
©2012 Madeleine Albright (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
“A remarkable story of adventure and passion, tragedy and courage set against the backdrop of occupied Czechoslovakia and World War II. Albright provides fresh insights into the events that shaped her career and challenges us to think deeply about the moral dilemmas that arise in our own lives.” (Vaclav Havel)
“I was totally blown away by this book. It is a breathtaking combination of the historical and the personal. Albright confronts the brutal realities of the Holocaust and the conflicted moral choices it led to. An unforgettable tale of fascism and communism, courage and realism, families and heartache and love. (Walter Isaacson)
“A genuinely admirable book. Albright skillfully returns us to some of the darkest years of modern times. Spring eventually came to Prague, but in much of the world it is still winter. The love of democracy fills every one of these instructive and stirring pages.” (Leon Wieseltier)
My problem with the book was that it is (so far) a history lesson. Only a small portion was about M. Albright. I was aware that her reading voice lacks so I was ready. I can forgive her for a boring voice. But a history lesson? Had the story been a story, I would not be dissatisfied. I probably will not finish the book.
It is one that I would listen to again because there is so much history of what was happening in the "world of others" when I was just a child.
Wild Swans, Mao
yes but she is not my favorite narrator. I have good experience with her in my adult life so I knew what the voice and inflections would be.
I was surprised at how little I had learned in my life about that time in Europe, Especially Chekhovslavia and how difficult that word is to say. I can see why many now have the option to say Chek Republic.
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
Learning more about the history of Czechoslovakia before, during and after WWII was interesting, but took second fiddle to the recollections of Madeleine Albright of that time and its impact on her. Working in service of one's country was modeled to young Madeleine throughout her life, and it is no wonder that she would then serve her adopted country, the US, as both Ambassador to the UN and Secretary of State.
Ms. Albright's narration was beautiful, especially when it came to names and places foreign to our American ears. Her inflection is good, and you could even detect humor in her voice as she told some stories.
Delighted to discover Secretary Albright narrated the book she authored. Interesting, detailed account of the period, the politics, that part of Europe. Her personal experiences, observations, connections added a richness that provided a nice break from facts.
What's there not to love? :-) I love the feel, smell and experience of a good book but nowadays who has the time?
This was my first "read" of Ms. Albright and though concerned I'd be bored to tears with useless fact and monotone drone, I was happy that my fear was unwarranted. Her voice, description, and timber drew me in to the book and I felt like I was right there experiencing both her life growing up during WWII but I also learned so much more about the Country and Land of my ancestry.
I'm tempted to compare this to a book by President Clinton but I fear that would be cliche. I would definately compare this to "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" by Erik Larson who captured a turbulent time so vivedly and movingly.
She she spoke of and read from her fathers notes and unfinished manuscript for a book of fiction about the war.
In particular I would like to listen to Praque Winter again to here Madeleine Albright set up the Chekoslavakian position in Europe at the beginning of WWII and England's role in the downfall of the Eastern European countries. I found the politics and attempts at mingling the cultures very interesting.
I loved listening to Madeleine Albright read her story. She has had an incredible life of influence in the USA. It was nice to hear the "back story".
I loved the historical perspective that Mrs. Albright brings to WWII.
This is one that will be recommended and reread. It ranks among my favorites.
Albright weaves the story of her early life and that of her family with events of the war years. The historical portion illuminates a part of history with which I've been only vaguely familiar with descriptions that are well-researched and presented clearly and in a balanced manner. The narrative is compelling and the message is timely.
i was rather disappointed in Madelaine's book, as I was expecting a more personal account of the experiences of her family as Jews in a hostile environment. To a small extent it was there, but the book concentrated on the politics of the war, the reasons for the decisions made by politicians for entering the war, and why the Czech Republic chose to align with Russia after hostilities ceased.
Madeleine was a small child at the outbreak of the war. Her parents had converted to Catholicism long before the war, but there was still potential danger for them if they remained in Czechoslovakia. Her father got a post as a journalist, and the family spent the war years in London. Madeleine received her early education in Britain, and she describes the officials that she met, and the political responsibilities that eventually fell on her her father.
Smart woman's story.
Any historical memoir. Madeline Albright did an amazing job writing about a historical time period, through which she lived, that now she looks back at, to tell us about how she remembers/ed it. The story doesn't "feel" like a true memoir, and isn't a historical "fact" sort of book; just a great blend of the two. I would recommend this book to any history buff!
I thought there would be a story not just a recap of history.
I didn;t finish it.
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