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Prague Winter

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  2,959 ratings  ·  601 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 467 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Chrissie
On completion:

Never was I bored when I listened to this book. Never was I confused by the facts. The balance between historical detail and personal family events was perfect. I enjoyed that the history of Czechoslovakia during the war was thoroughly covered as well as what happened to her family.

I adored learning about Madeleine as a child....she was no angel and what she tells us is often very funny. She got a D minus in geography! OK, that was when she was still very young, so we can forgive...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Rating = 3.5 stars

I rounded up rather than down because the book gave me a completely different perspective on World War II. Specifically, how the betrayal at Munich looked from the Czechoslovakian viewpoint. They were abandoned by their sworn allies when Hitler invaded.

I once heard a recording of Dylan Thomas reading his poem, "The Hand That Signed the Paper," and it moved me to tears. That poem came to my mind as I read about the consequences of appeasing Hitler. http://www.poetryfoundation.o...more
KOMET
Madeleine Albright has written a very fascinating and compelling book, shedding light on her native Czechoslovakia and its history, her parents and the challenges faced by their generation, her extended family, and her formative years (up to age 10).

Prior to 1918, Czechoslovakia existed only as a dream in the minds of a number of dedicated, hard-working, intelligent and astute Czechs and Slovaks. Of their number, there was one man who stood out head and shoulders above the rest: Tomas Masaryk (...more
Kenneth P.
This fascinating book is at once a personal memoir, a history of Czechoslovakia and a narrative of events in Europe during the Second World War. The project of writing the book began when Dr. Albright, a life-long Christian at the age of 59, learned that she had been born a Jew and that many of her relatives (including three grandparents) had died in the Holocaust. She writes,

I was shocked and, to be honest, embarrassed to discover that I had not known my family history better...... Nor was I en...more
Caren
I picked up this book because I love the Czechs, those intelligent, gracious people. This is a well-told story of one Czech who later became a very influential American. If it is a curse to have been born in interesting times, Dr. Albright was certainly well and truly cursed. But, as in the best fairy tales, the curse was balanced by having been blessed with wonderfully prescient parents who stayed one step ahead of events and kept their little daughter safe. The nation of their birth, Czechoslo...more
Judie
Had I known in advance exactly what this book was about, I would have left it on the library shelf and had denied myself an excellent read.
Madeleine Albright tells the story of Czechoslovakia before, during, and after World War II in a compelling, easy to follow narrative. The experiences of her family provide a thread since her father was an ambassador so she personally met many of the politicos involved, even though she was a young child. She relies on her father's papers and personal intervie...more
Jaylia3
Written by former US secretary of state and UN ambassador Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter is a seamlessly woven amalgam: part family memoir, part political and cultural history, and part discerning examination of how people make difficult, sometimes world-altering, moral choices. It covers the turbulent first half of twentieth century Europe and is focused most closely on Czechoslovakia, a distinctive and fascinating country this book made me want to visit. As a naturalized American citizen an...more
Margaret
I so admire Ms. Albright, and I appreciate that with all she's accomplished she has elected to write "books for the rest of us" that are accessible and intelligent at the same time - no compromises either way. This is her third book and it focuses on the history of Czechoslovakia (the country of her birth and ancestry), primarily the events leading up to and during WWII, as intertwined with stories and memories of her family's history in the first half of the 20th C. Simply put, it's all fascina...more
David Levine
As someone who lived in Prague and studied eastern european history, this was just OK. Albright's own personal history (or tragedy in these years) is gripping. However, her historical background discussion, including her depiction of the first Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1939) is either facile or naive if not wrong. It is a very Czech-centric view typical of what has published by Czechs and recycles the "noble Czech democrats" myth which they themselves created. The story of the fall of the firs...more
Louise
Finally, a readable explanation of how an eastern European county came to be behind the "Iron Curtain". Hopefully the future will hold such volumes for the others.

Albright tells how Czechoslovakia was created after WWI. Not too long afterward, its fledgling democracy died as its German minority helped Germany take it away. Later, its second fledgling democracy helped Russia take it away. It's a sad story with historically significant names (Eduard Benes, Thomas Masaryk, Jan Masaryk, Klement Gott...more
Fiona
An account of the events before, during, and after WWII from a Czech perspective. This is less of a personal memoir than an excellent, well written and easily read history lesson, one which had me shaking my head in horror many times. The author was too young to remember many of the events personally, or for them to be meaningful to her, but her account of the fates of many family members is very moving, as are her personal reflections in the final chapter. I have only one criticism. Given that...more
Danielle
Fantastic book focusing on the Czech people's experience during WWII that is told through the family experience of the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.

The book was very informative and interesting. Parts definitely made me cry, but a lot of WWII related stuff does. The personal sacrifice and bravery in the face of such terrible events is very moving!
Cwiegard
really excellent nonfiction writing. A memoir of a turbulent childhood as a refugee from WWII Czechoslovakia, along with a telling of the painful history of that time from the viewpoint of a late-in-life Secretary of State. a remarkable book- I considered giving it five stars and barely backed down.
Correen

Fabulous history of Albright's family, interspersed with the history of WWII and her own interpretations of the leadership of the various countries and the impact of decisions on the populous.

It is somehow beyond my ken to consider how I would feel to hear that 25 of my close family members had perished in the concentration camps, and what is more that I was born a Jew. I think I would alternately celebrate the courage and practical reasoning of my parents with anger of not being informed of thi...more
Jay
Very much a history of Czechoslovakia from the end of WWI through after WWII, focusing on the Czechs and Madeline Albright's family, who were involved with the government. For those interested in this period and place, this is likely a great read. I wasn't that enamored - I found myself awash in too many names to keep track of and getting confused along the way. I was expecting the "personal" in the title to make this a bit more memoir-ish, but then I find that Albright was herself a youngster t...more
Carol E.
It took me three weeks to read this book. Nevertheless, I really liked it, and learned a lot! The first half was slow-going. It was almost like reading a history text. Albright set the stage in order to explain the build-up and context of her early life. The second half of the book was much more readable and personal. The reader learns about Albright’s relatives and of her own personal saga, touring sites in Europe where her ancestors had trod.

Albright was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937. Her fat...more
Ann
This book filled in a lot of what we do not usually hear about regarding WWII. It also increased my regard for Sec. Albright. She certainly had the background to be Sec of State.

Having visited Prague last May, and hearing about the history of the Czek people on that visit, made the book come to life for me. The interaction of the Nazis and the Czek Jews and the underground was so revealing. I also found the relationship of the Czeks and the Soviets an eye opener. The history of Czek, Hungarian,...more
Kamila
Together with co-writer Bill Woodward, former U. S. Secretary of State delivers a smoothly written, lucid overview of historical events before, during, and after the Second World War from the perspective of Czechoslovakia, her country of birth. Set within the framework of world politics is the history of Ms. Albright's family, the Körbels. Since her father, Dr. Josef Körbel, was a prominent Czechoslovak diplomat, the two are closely interconnected. More often than not, the author refrains from c...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
Prague Win­ter: A Per­sonal Story of Remem­brance and War, 1937–1948 by Madeleine Albright is a non-fiction book in which the author talks about the years men­tioned from her per­spec­tive. Some­what per­sonal, adven­tur­ous and mov­ing, this mem­oir takes the reader on a Euro­pean his­tory les­son which is not often told.

"There is not deeper cause for despair than mali­cious hope (Hitler proved that), and few traits more valu­able than sad­ness and anger at suf­fer­ing. The dis­tinc­tion that m...more
Sandy
Although the subtitle indicates the 1937-48 focus, Albright actually gives quite a bit of Czechoslovakia's history leading up to that period. Seeing her family's involvement in the establishment of a democratic republic and then the fight to take the country back from the Nazi invaders shows how Albright's exposure to diplomacy started at a very young age. It is more a history than a memoir, but the inclusion of her family's experiences enriches the telling, including some humorous touches of he...more
Isis
I'm giving five stars because this book is the perfect mix of history and memoir - a combination that appeals strongly to me - and because it's additionally relevant to me, as my own family is from Czechoslovakia, my father only a little older than Albright, my grandparents only a little older than her parents.

There are really three threads to this story, all of which are interesting and worthwhile. The first is the history; and just as it's easier to make sense of a story by following a single...more
Connie
Madeleine Albright has always been someone I have admired for her shining intelligence, her political astuteness, her remarkable knowledge of world affairs, and now with this book, her generous sharing of the darkness of World War II as lived out in the country of her birth, Czechoslovakia, and in the lives of so many of her family members who were killed in the Holocaust.

The memoir is personal and yet at the same time is scholarly giving the reader an inside look at the political realities faci...more
Lisa
This book is a good history of Czechoslovakia during WWII, with the added personal touch of Albright's family story to make it even more interesting. There are many missed chances, betrayals, and poor choices in the personal and political histories, as well as moments of integrity, courage, and hope. I read this on my e-reader in an "enriched" edition that had several very short videos featuring Albright and her commentary on some of the larger issues, as well as photos and artifacts not in the...more
Carl
Although this was an excellent history of Czechoslovakia from the 1930s to 1948, it wasn’t as “personal” as I was expecting. Of course, given the author’s age, what she saw and felt would be limited and of less significance than the first hand impressions of someone a bit older. And, although her family was deeply involved in various ways (her father part of the government pre-, during (in exile), and post-war, and grandparents, cousins, etc. presumably killed by the Nazis), those reports are on...more
Theresa


I did not set out to read a historical overview of Czechoslovakia, but found myself enthralled by this narrative. Thinking I was going to read more of a personal narrative of World War 2, instead I found myself gripped by scene after scene of political events caused by circumstances that were happening in quick succession during one of the most turbulent periods in world history.

"Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War", explores the events in Czechoslovakia and Europe leading up...more
Matt
I really knew very little about the involvement of Czechoslovakia in the run-up to WWII and during WWII, so I found this book fascinating. Albright does a good job of linking up her early life (her father was a member of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile and, after the war, the Czechoslovak ambassador to Yugoslavia) with the historical events. It's also powerful (and incredibly sad) to see her retrace the unhappy ends of many of her relatives...Albright did not know she was of Jewish origin u...more
Robert Hill
This was a very interesting book. I have read numerous histories dealing with the lead up to the second world war. I read most of those histories some time ago. I enjoyed the insights of Madeleine Albright in her analysis of this period of history. I liked that she "what iffed" on some of the history. I liked her presentation of the history of the Czech nation. It is a complex history and I thought her presentation very clear in dealing with a difficult topic. Her analysis of the politics after...more
Bobbi
Madeleine Albright was born in Czechoslovakia to a upper middle class family in 1937. Because her father was in a government position when the Nazis invaded, the family moved to London during the war. Her descriptions of her experiences during those horrible years is mesmerizing, especially through the eyes of a young child. Eventually the family returned to Prague but her father was then sent to Yugoslavia as Czech ambassador. As the Czech government became increasingly under the control of Rus...more
Kay
I'm not sure if this is a true memoir but it is surely interesting. When Madeline Albright found out she came from a Jewish family she was surprised. She was Secretary of State when a journalist released this information. In a position such as hers she had the ability to trace her roots in ways many of us would not be able to. Since she was a toddler and pre-schooler when WWII was going on she did not have the knowledge of her family of past generations. Shielded by her parents she accepted what...more
Lena
I found this to be a beautifully written book. While the focus was obviously on Czechoslovakia from just before the second world war until its communist control, the historical facts were presented along with a feeling of how the local people were affected. The time and locale were the settings of unspeakable cruelty, which was presented along with how the majority of people managed to get through every day and still have hope for the future. In additon to facts, the author also discussed, in a...more
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Madeleine Korbel Albright (born Marie Jana Korbelová) was the first woman to become United States Secretary of State. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996 and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate 99-0. She was sworn in on January 23, 1997.
More about Madeleine Albright...
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