Monday, December 24, 2012

Book 40 - Prague Winter by Madeline Albright

I'm embarrassed to say that I never knew that the former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, spent many of her formative years in London during the second World War (and survived the blitz!). But this book introduced that information to me along with many other things that I didn't know...

I had read Madam Secretary, and even have a signed copy, and I was, quite frankly, anticipating that this would be a similar book. I expected it to be heavy on the memory and less so on the historical context. I expected it to be a little sappy too - I mean, it's really hard to look back upon your time in your homeland without rose-colored glasses even though it was a particularly bad time. However, this book was none of those things. In fact, the memoir part is the secondary narrative here. There was memoir in it - Albright describes her family's experiences in the Czech Republic and England during World War II. However, she also provides an intriguing historical narrative of World War II, with her focus being primarily on the experiences of Czechoslovakia.

In reading this book, I really felt that I learned something. I learned a lot about World War II and its impact on the people of the Czech Republic, which isn't something I knew a whole lot about previously. History glosses over facts that relate to the smaller countries, even though they are often just as important if not more so than the facts that we do learn. This book also brings the fascist and communist rise to power to the forefront with precise,accessible explanations as to what happened and why - this sort of narrative is important in teaching us what happened and how to avoid or prevent it from happening again. The way that Secretary Albright presented her story and the historical perspective, as well as the way that she had them intersect, were phenomenal and made the re-telling of a story that we all generally know, fresh and interesting.

Definitely a buy for addition into your library. FTC disclosure: I was not provided this copy to review. I got it out of the library.

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