Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:


BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I'll be honest - this wasn't the first time that I had read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The last time I read it was 9 years ago, right after my son was born - I can't believe that it has been out for that long. I'm glad that I re-read it now, because I found myself in a place where I could relate more to Ms. Gilbert and her experiences.

At the start of this book, we learn that the author is not in a good place. It's the middle of the night, she's on her bathroom floor sobbing and her marriage is literally going down the toilet. She enters quickly into another relationship that is very stressful for her and ultimately very heartbreaking. She was hurt, depressed and anxious. In order to heal, she decided to spend one year of her life traveling in order to get to know herself.  For the first third of the year, Ms. Gilbert spent time in Italy. For the middle third, Ms. Gilbert spent her time in India and in the last third, she went to Bali.

I really enjo…