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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping yet intimate narrative about the last hundred years of turbulent European history, as seen through one of Mitteleuropa's greatest houses - and the lives of its occupants

When Norman Eisen moved into the US ambassador’s residence in Prague, returning to the land his mother had fled after the Holocaust, he was startled to discover swastikas hidden beneath the furniture in his new home. These symbols of Nazi Germany were remnants of the residence’s forgotten history, and evidence that we never live far from the past. 

From that discovery unspooled the twisting, captivating tale of four of the remarkable people who had called this palace home. Their story is Europe’s, and The Last Palace chronicles the upheavals that transformed the continent over the past century. There was the optimistic Jewish financial baron, Otto Petschek, who built the palace after World War I as a statement of his faith in democracy, only to have that faith shattered; Rudolf Toussaint, the cultured, compromised German general who occupied the palace during World War II, ultimately putting his life at risk to save the house and Prague itself from destruction; Laurence Steinhardt, the first postwar US ambassador whose quixotic struggle to keep the palace out of Communist hands was paired with his pitched efforts to rescue the country from Soviet domination; and Shirley Temple Black, an eyewitness to the crushing of the 1968 Prague Spring by Soviet tanks, who determined to return to Prague and help end totalitarianism - and did just that as US ambassador in 1989. 

Weaving in the life of Eisen’s own mother to demonstrate how those without power and privilege moved through history, The Last Palace tells the dramatic and surprisingly cyclical tale of the triumph of liberal democracy.

©2018 Norman Eisen (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Engrossing.... This action-packed yet lyrically written page-turner confers a fascinating human understanding of Europe’s past and present.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Norman Eisen has written an enthralling history of a palace and its very real ghosts. By telling the story of the Prague mansion where he resided as America’s ambassador, Eisen provides a poignant reflection on the haunting twists of the past century, including his own very American family tale.” (Walter Isaacson)

“Moving, engaging, and elegantly written, The Last Palace wears its erudition lightly, casts its radiant intelligence fearlessly into the darkest corners of the 20th century and, effortlessly, reliably, breaks your heart again and again.” (Michael Chabon)

“Combining both the personal and the historical, Norman Eisen’s remarkable book transports us into the battle for democracy through the lives of people who fought to save it and those who would seek to destroy it. The Last Palace is not only a first-rate work of history, but a call to action written at a time of urgent need.” (Madeleine Albright)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Amazing

Amazing story, great performance. A truly great story about the Czech Republic, and what happened to the country during the 20th Century.

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Fantastic book

However I did not appreciate the voice of the narrator trying to imitate a woman, a child, singing etc. Beneath the narrator’s ability and our intelligence. We understand a book narrator cannot be expected to sound like a child or a woman so why try! Annoying and distracting!!

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Amazing! Loved everything about it!

Great story! Great performance! Jeff Goldblum was perfect for this book. It could have been twice as long!

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Lots of history little heart

Agree with another reviewer who said the same. Lots of historical detail but almost detached in the delivery. I would’ve liked more depth of character and more human side of the story. It was a bit of a trudge to get through it. Not a huge fan of the narrators lilt & voice variation.

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One of the best books I have ever read/Listen to.

One Of the best books I have ever read/Listen to, truly a Awesome read it gives you historic reference and family history at the same time. I will read it again, and Again.