Havel : A life

by Michael Žantovský

Hardcover, 2014




New York : Grove Press, [2014]


Examines the life of a man who rose from being an outcast and prisoner during Communist rule to becoming the last president of Czechoslovakia, the first president of the newly democratic Czech Republic and a human-rights activist.

User reviews

LibraryThing member revliz
An excellent book, not only on Havel's life, but as good an overview of what was going on and why people responded the way they did, how things felt and looked, as an insider can give an outsider. Zantovsky's dry wit really helps, too. My favorite paragraph comes as Czechloslovakia is splitting apart:
Havel felt something had to done to arrest the slide of the country into a constitutional and political stalemate . . . He left nothing to chance, inviting the guests to stay overnight and cooking his own goulash for the dinner. As the piece de resistance he produced a twenty-three-year-old bottle of slivovitz that the village locals had buried in the ground on the day of the Soviet invasion in August 1968, to be recovered in better days. The meeting produced a transcript of more than 200 pages . . .. about the competencies of the federation emanating from a treaty between the two constituent nations, which, however, could not be a treaty under the federal constitution, and would thus have to revert to the two hens conceiving one egg, which would have to be delivered by another chicken. Or something. The slivovitz was excellent, though.… (more)



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