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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.

©2012 Madeleine Albright (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 07-14-12

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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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.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Heavy and worth every minute

I have read several of former secretary Albright's books prior to listening to this. So I already knew that I would learn much from her story. I will listen to it again. I learned much about European history that I did not know. Great book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting and personal

After I returned from Prague, I wanted to learn more about it's incredible history. I chose Madeleine Albright's book from audible as a start. I have heard her speak at the Commonwealth Club and simply find her intelligence and persona very pleasing. I was captivated by this book and her story regrading her history regarding Prague and PRAGUE'S history. I appreciated that she narrated her own book as well. At first, I thought the book was going be "slow"... and not that interesting to listen to... but the more I listened, the more I wanted to listen. I highly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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My extended family

Excellent and eye opening. My daughter in law's mother and parents in 1969 and her father's parents in '48 fled occupied Czech. The cruel treatment that they and others endured and their struggles and fears weighs heavy on my heart.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • Bellevue, WA, United States
  • 09-23-12

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wow! So engaging

I am traveling to Prague this summer and wanted to learn a bit about the city and it’s history. I knew very little about Madeline Albright before reading this book outside of her having been Secretary if state during my teenage years. Her story is a well balanced blend of personal memoir, historical context, national narrative and insider storytelling from her family’s position as diplomats within the Czech government. I was enthralled not only with the characters but the Czech people. I found myself following each line as it wove through with the grim certainty of knowing how it ends but hoping for the best anyways.
Madeline’s reading feels like your grandmother telling you a story and the rhythm took a little getting used to but she thankfully pronounced all the Czech beautifully which I would not have done had I read the book myself.

Now I want to go read more on the remarkable Czech people, the story of Soviet Czechoslovakia and the Velvet Revolution and it’s actors. Highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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wonderfully written

loved this historical account peppered with personal stories, anecdotes and memoir. mrs. albright writes beautifully.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph
  • Lake Suzy, FL, United States
  • 05-21-12

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A fascinating history lesson well told

I feel more than ever that history may be repeating itself after listening to this book. It was personal and historical at the same time - a very good blend. It makes me want to learn more.

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  • Purplelotus
  • 02-28-17

Absorbing

Where does Prague Winter rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top five

What did you like best about this story?

Fascinating time in history both Czech history and the worlds.

Have you listened to any of Madeleine Albright’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The transportation of her young cousin to Auschwitz.

Any additional comments?

Very hard to turn this off. There is more history than personal reminiscence but the two are tied in.

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  • Helen
  • 03-16-16

I lost myself in this world

lovely well written personal and factual history of Checkoslovakia during and after 2nd world war, great to hear it read by author.