The Art of the Impossible by Vaclav Havel
Politics as Morality in Practice

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There is no shortage of politicians who make a habit of shooting from the hip, but it is much rarer to find one who speaks from the heart. Václav Havel knows no other way to speak, or to write. Both as a dissident and as a playwright it was his sworn purpose for many years to combat evil with nothing but truth. As president of Czechoslovakia, and now of the Czech Republic, he has clung to that habit, refusing to turn over either his conscience or his voice to political handlers and professional speechwriters. Instead he assumes the additional burden--for him, it is a distinct pleasure--of composing all of his oratory. Audiences from New York to New Delhi, Oslo to Tokyo, have been the luckier for his decision.

This volume consists of thirty-five of these essays, written between the years 1990 and 1996, that manage to be both profoundly personal and profoundly political. Havel writes of totalitarianism, its miseries and the nonetheless difficult emergence from it.

He describes how his country and the other postcommunist countries are learning democracy from scratch and are encountering obstacles from inside and out. He marvels at the single technology-driven civilization that envelops the globe, and the challenges this presents to multicultural realities. He invokes the duty of every person alive to prevent hatred and fear from derailing history ever again. He acknowledges "the advantage it is for doing a good job as president to know that I do not belong in the position and that I can at any moment, and justifiably, be removed from it."  And he reminds us that--contrary to all appearances--common sense, moderation, responsibility, good taste, feeling, instinct, and conscience are not alien to politics, but are the very key to its long-term success.

About Vaclav Havel

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Born in Czechoslovakia in 1936, Václav Havel is a noted playwright, a founding spokesman of Charter 77, and the author of many influential essays on totalitarianism and dissent. In 1979 he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for his involvement in the Czech human-rights movement. In November 1989 he helped found the Civic Forum, his country's first legal opposition movement in forty years, and the following month he became president of Czechoslovakia. Since January 1993 he has been president of the Czech Republic.Paul Wilson lived in Czechoslovakia from 1967 to 1977. Since his return to Canada in 1978 he has translated into English work by many Czech writers, including Josef Skvoreck´y, Bohumil Hrabal, and Ivan Klíma, and has translated and edited most of Václav Havel's prose
Published January 1, 1997 by Alfred A. Knopf Incorporated. 273 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Here is a practicing politician whose head has room for something more than opinion polls: Today no less than in the past he places dreams at the center of politics and hopes for dreamers to author the future.

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Publishers Weekly

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Playwright, revolutionary, former political prisoner and now president of the Czech Republic, Havel is probably one of the few world leaders who actually writes his own speeches.

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Spirituality & Practice

Reviews Philosophy About Our Affiliates Books & Audios Recently Reviewed "The world of politics should be widely humanized, and its intellectual and spiritual dimension cultivated," advises Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic.

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