Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Prague winter by Madeleine Albright

Prague winter (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Madeleine Albright, Bill Woodward (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4441623,573 (4.11)34
Title:Prague winter
Authors:Madeleine Albright
Other authors:Bill Woodward (Author)
Info:New York: HarperCollins; gebonden; stofomslag
Tags:USA, autobiografie

Work details

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeleine Albright (2012)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 34 mentions

English (14)  Dutch (2)  All (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
She never knew she was Jewish. It wasn't until she was about to become Secretary of State, that Madeleine Albright found out-from a reporter-that her family had Jewish origins. She was surprised, she had always felt like she knew who she was and where she had come from. This book is the result of her digging into her family's history and discovering the story of Czechoslovakia and how the events of World War II tore apart her family--and thousands of others. This is not much of a personal story, as a relating of the events that happened with some of Albright's commentary on the decisions that were made by the political leaders. Our book group found much to discuss as we also talked about the decisions that were made and the implications, and how they related to what's going in the world right now. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history. ( )
  debs4jc | Nov 21, 2016 |
Part memoir but mostly history of the Czech parts of World War II and it's aftermath. Alot of things I didn't know but somewhat marred by a rather trite writing style when it got to anything personal about the author. Still, an interesting read but perhaps one to bookcross.
  amyem58 | Sep 13, 2015 |
This book is not so much a memoir as it is an account of her family and her native country, Czechoslovakia, before, during and immediately after World War II. Of course Madeleine Albright, with all her experience in foreign policy is the perfect person to write this book. How is it that Czechoslovakia exchanged one despot, Adolf Hitler, for another, Josef Stalin? What were the culture influences that caused the disintegration of this nascent democracy so soon after having been occupied, oppressed and murdered by the Nazis. Madeleine Albright tells us as much about ourselves as human beings as she does about historical forces that led to the Cold War. Interestingly, her father was an ambassador to Yugoslavia before and after WWII. The book begins with her discovery that her family was Jewish and never told her. Some people found this difficult to believe but as an American-born daughter of a Jewish refugee from WWII, I find her explanation quite believable. I won't discuss it here, as it is a significant part of the book. The theme that winds through this beautifully written historical narrative is how and why do people make certain choices. What happens when you have only 2 bad choices? How does one behave when all options are unethical without destroying oneself? How do we, as humanity, learn from the pain and suffering brought about by ethnic rivalry and lack of compassion? I highly recommend this book. I learned a lot and appreciate the lessons learned from studying the history of Czechoslovakia. ( )
1 vote krazy4katz | Nov 1, 2014 |
Very informative and well-written. This book made me want to learn more about Madeline Albright, a person whom I knew very little about before reading this book. ( )
  SqueakerMarie | Apr 17, 2014 |
Because my paternal grandparents were Slovak immigrants, I was always aware of and interested in Czech and Slovak history. I remember how stunned I was the first time I read about how the British and French sold out Czechoslovakia to Germany in order to appease Hitler and, especially, how galling it was to read of Neville Chamberlain's crushing dismissal of the situation of the Czechs: "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-marks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing."

Chamberlain gave us the viewpoint of a citizen of an imperial power. Madeleine Albright shows us what it was like from the other side, for those "people of whom we know nothing," when their aggressive neighbors decided to take over and their supposed allies' support evaporated.

Marie Jana Korbel was born in Prague in 1937 and was just a baby when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland in the northern part of the Czech lands and, shortly thereafter, invaded and made the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia into a Reich Protectorate. Her father, Josef Korbel, was in the diplomatic service and was able to take his family to London, where the Czech government-in-exile had fled, and where he produced wartime radio programs to be broadcast to those back home under the Nazi yoke.

After the war's end, the Korbel family was able to return, and Josef Korbel to resume his diplomatic service, but the Communist coup in 1948 forced them out of their home once again. They were given asylum in the US, where Marie Jana Korbel became Madeleine Albright, the first woman Secretary of State.

You may remember that very shortly after President Clinton named Albright Secretary of State, she learned that her parents were Jewish (though they'd converted to Roman Catholicism before her birth and raised her as a Catholic) and that a score of her close relatives, including three of her grandparents, were killed in Auschwitz and the Czech camp at Terezin (called Theresienstadt by the Germans).

In this book, Albright melds her family history with that of the Czechs (and, much less so, the Slovaks). Jews were among the most assimilated and secularized in Europe, and many considered themselves Czech before Jews, especially when Czechoslovakia became an independent nation after World War I. The country was an industrial powerhouse with a very high literacy rate and a strong cultural life. Of course, its strengths made it a target for Germany and the USSR.

Josef Korbel's position in the Czech government and closeness to its leaders gives Albright a good background to explain the diplomatic and political high-wire act the country had to perform, trying to preserve its culture and economy against the aggression of its neighbors and the relative indifference of its friends. She writes an excellent, readable history of the political and diplomatic history of the country.

Surprisingly, it is with the personal side of the history that Albright is less successful. I would have liked to know more about her experiences during the Blitz (though she was very young) and, especially, about her parents' decision to convert and what happened to her relatives. I got the impression that because she loved her parents deeply, and they didn't choose to tell her or her siblings about the family history, she may have felt a sense of disloyalty if she'd delved into this subject too deeply.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free review copy of this book. ( )
1 vote Remizak | Apr 7, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Albright, Madeleineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Woodward, BillAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

How long since I last saw
The sun sink low behind Petrin Hill?
With tearful eyes I gazed at you, Prague,
Enveloped in your evening shadows.
How long since I last heard the pleasant rush of water
Over the weir in the Vltava river?
I have long since forgotten the bustling life of Wenceslas Square.
Those unknown corners in the Old Town,
Those shady nooks and sleepy canals,
How are they? They cannot be grieving for me
As I do for them . . .
Prague, you fairy tale in stone, how well I remember!

Petr Ginz (1928-1944)
To those who did not survive but taught us how to live - and why
First words
I was fifty-nine when I began serving as U.S. secretary of state.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0062030310, Hardcover)

Madeleine Albright on Writing Prague Winter

On the evening of February 4, 1997, I led the cabinet into the House of Representatives prior to the President’s annual address—the first woman ever to do so. Exchanging greetings with senators and other dignitaries, my heart should have been joyful; instead, I was stunned. That morning’s Washington Post headline had read: “Albright Family Tragedy Comes to Light.”

I was 59 when I learned from a reporter and from certain letters I had received that my ancestral heritage was Jewish and that more than two dozen of my relatives had died in the Holocaust. The revelation shook my deeply ingrained sense of identity, and prompted me to seek answers to questions that I had never before thought to ask. That search began with visits to the small towns in Czechoslovakia where my parents had grown up and to the ancient synagogue where the names of Holocaust victims are enshrined. Prague Winter is a continuation of that personal journey, but also a much wider tale concerning a generation compelled to make painful moral choices amid the tumult of war.

In 1939, when efforts by British and French leaders to appease Hitler had backfired, the Nazis invaded my homeland. I was not yet two years old. My parents escaped with me to London where my father became head of broadcasting for the Czechoslovak government in exile. Strangers in an embattled land, we endured along with our new neighbors the terrible bombing of the Blitz. Back home, the German occupation quickly evolved into a reign of terror under the direction of Reinhard Heydrich, “The Butcher of Prague.” As preparations were made to exterminate the country’s Jews, Czechoslovak parachutists returned to their native soil with a mission: to kill Heydrich -- the only successful assassination of a senior Nazi during the war. In the months that followed that daring assault, Czechs suffered from Hitler’s vengeance, while Jews confined to the infamous Terezin ghetto struggled to retain hope despite overcrowded conditions and the periodic departure of fellow inmates on trains to the east. In England, Czechoslovak leaders maneuvered to reclaim their country’s independence; my mother and father agonized over the fate of loved ones who had remained behind.

From the day America entered the war, my parents and their friends were confident the Allies would win. As democrats from Central Europe, they prayed that the United States—not the Soviet Union—would wield the decisive postwar influence in our region. It was not to be. When at last the Nazis were defeated, Czechoslovakia became again a battleground between democracy and totalitarianism; before long, my family was forced into exile for the second time, finding a permanent home in America.

The story of Prague Winter is often as intensely personal as a mother’s letter, a father’s hidden sorrow, and the earnest artwork of an imprisoned ten-year-old cousin. The themes, however, are universal: loyalty and betrayal, respect and bigotry, accommodating evil or fighting back. What fascinates me is why we make the choices we do. What prompts one person to act boldly in a moment of crisis and a second to seek shelter in the crowd? Why do some people become stronger in the face of adversity while others quickly lose heart? What drives many of us to look down on neighbors based on the flimsy pretexts of nationality and creed? Is it education, spiritual belief, parental guidance, traumatic events, or more likely some combination that causes us to follow the paths that we do? My search for answers compelled me to look back—to the time of harshest winter in the city of my birth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:34 -0400)

From former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes a moving and thoughtful memoir of her formative years in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism, and the onset of the Cold War.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
71 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (4.11)
2 1
2.5 1
3 5
3.5 4
4 38
4.5 6
5 15

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,107,614 books! | Top bar: Always visible