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Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 | [Madeleine Albright]

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Madeleine Albright (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (125 )
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3.7 (104 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 07-14-12
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 07-14-12 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The price of Democracy"

    I was fascinated how Albright weaved the story of her family into telling the history of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to the 1950's. As a child of a Czech diplomat she could watch history unfold around her and see and talk to the people involved. The book tells of her family(Jewish) who died in the prison camp of Terezin. With this background I bet Albright is a great teacher. You can feel her sense of obligation to the people who lived and died from 1937 to 1948 in her story and her drive to prevent this from happening again. I understand her drive to prevent the ethnic cleansing in the form Yugoslavia while she was Secretary of State. This is a must read book for anyone wanting to understand the values of their great grandparents and their grandparents. We should never forget the two wars (WW1 & WW2) that the world fought to bring us to what we have today.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Finan Little Rock, Arkansas 02-22-13
    Jeanette Finan Little Rock, Arkansas 02-22-13 Member Since 2009
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    "History from a Personal Perspective"

    A very good friend recommended this book to me and even loaned me a copy of it because she thought I would like it. She was right. I liked it so much I used one of my audible credits to purchase it in audio format. I am so glad I did because the books was read by Madeline Albright herself.

    This book is basically a history of Czechoslovakia during the periods before, during and after WW2. I found this interesting because the events leading up to both wars and their aftermaths have had a lot of impact on where we find ourselves today. It's my contention that you cannot fully understand what is happening around you today unless you know what happened yesterday. That's just my personal take however and probably an excuse to myself for my fascination with conflict when I consider myself to be a pacifist.

    By reading the book herself and thereby describing the events in her own voice she transformed the story from being dry history into her story. Sometimes you could tell by her voice that many of the events she was describing were very painful. I especially enjoyed the parts relating to her childhood during WWII. The one thing that I do not understand is why her parents kept so much of her families personal history from their children. I am sure they had their reasons but still it is hard for me to understand. I am about seven years younger than Madeline Albright but I still have some very vivid memories of those days. But I grew up in the oh so safe American mid-west so if I have memories I can imagine that people who lived through those times must have memories vivid enough to evoke some strong emotions.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David A Ipp Sydney, New South Wales Australia Australia 07-26-12
    David A Ipp Sydney, New South Wales Australia Australia 07-26-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Deadly voice"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Don't use the writer to read the book.


    Would you recommend Prague Winter to your friends? Why or why not?

    Not in audible format


    What didn’t you like about Madeleine Albright’s performance?

    The deadly voice.


    Was Prague Winter worth the listening time?

    Yes, for the story of her home country.


    Any additional comments?

    I've bought a few books with the authors reading their own story and it is seldom successful.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Lake Suzy, FL, United States 05-21-12
    Joseph Lake Suzy, FL, United States 05-21-12 Member Since 2011
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    "WW II from another perspective"
    What made the experience of listening to Prague Winter the most enjoyable?

    Madeline Albright reads her story! It is informative, as well as most entertaining, because it is her personal story. Very sad at times, but also enlightening. Though we have all read
    the news items about her family originally being Jewish, that is really not the gist of the book. It is the purpose for her delving into personal family history, but that provides the reader the unique experience of learning about the past, during a very horrible time, in Europe.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anja Schmidt Denmark 11-12-13
    Anja Schmidt Denmark 11-12-13 Member Since 2006

    k11923

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    "I expected something else"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I think so. But this is not for everyone. It would need some special interest in this subject, since it is not a traditional novel biografy


    Would you recommend Prague Winter to your friends? Why or why not?

    See above.


    Which character – as performed by Madeleine Albright – was your favorite?

    Her fathers friend. I do not remember his name.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I might. Now that I know the exact content, I would prefer a documentary style.


    Any additional comments?

    .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan COLUMBIA, MO, United States 07-30-13
    Susan COLUMBIA, MO, United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Admiration for author, not the production"
    What disappointed you about Prague Winter?

    Regret to say: monotone of author


    Has Prague Winter turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Few new insights into life and career of author


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Madeleine Albright?

    Until this title, I've been pleased with all narrators


    What character would you cut from Prague Winter?

    No need to cut characters; more depth needed


    Any additional comments?

    Madeleine Albright has my admiration for her life, her service to the public good and her fellowman; the book's production (including sound quality) did not do justice to the career of this remarkable leader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Hoy Northern Minnesota on Lake Superior 05-28-13
    Michelle Hoy Northern Minnesota on Lake Superior 05-28-13 Member Since 2012
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    "very boring"
    What was most disappointing about Madeleine Albright’s story?

    to much history about the country 3 hours wasted listening to story all history nothing about her.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Madeleine Albright’s performances?

    no


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Prague Winter?

    the whole book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine ENCINO, CA, United States 03-23-13
    Elaine ENCINO, CA, United States 03-23-13 Member Since 2006
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    "History Lesson"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maida Sandy, UT, United States 11-04-12
    Maida Sandy, UT, United States 11-04-12 Member Since 2008

    I am a life long student. I love to study and learn and I enjoy factual books but also well research novels. At age 75 I have read lots.

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    "Great HIstory- Great Writing"
    Where does Prague Winter rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Prague Winter to and why?

    Wild Swans, Mao


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Madeleine Albright?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 09-23-12
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 09-23-12 Member Since 2007

    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!

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    "Ms. Albright's life is fascinating"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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