To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel

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From the former president of the Czech Republic comes this first-hand account of his years in office and the transition to democracy following the fall of Communism.

A renowned playwright, Václav Havel became one of Czechoslovakia's most prominent dissidents under Communist rule – and the president after the Velvet Revolution, making him a key player in European politics. Here we see first-hand the challenges of creating a new government, tempered with Havel's revealing insights into the difficulties posed by an era of increased globalization and conflict. He discusses not only the situation in his own country, but also such pressing issues as the future of the European Union, the war in Iraq, and the role of the United States in contemporary affairs. Written with an eye towards both the political and the personal and a witty, well-honed eloquence, To the Castle and Back is a rare glimpse into the minds of one of the most important political figures of modern times.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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 June 9, 2009 by Vintage. 402 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Havel likens this, not entirely positively, to a fairy tale, “if not pure kitsch,” but it is quite clear that he took his duties most seriously in office, wrestling with such problems as how to effect the desired separation of Czechoslovakia into two republics and reconcile his own inclination to...

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The New York Times

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But you do worry about Havel and his health, and you begin to wonder if the garden hose and the bat in the closet aren’t emblems of still greater mysteries, and you read about the household details with an emotion that finally overwhelms anything you might feel about 1989 and the world-shaking ev...

Sep 23 2007 | Read Full Review of To the Castle and Back

The Guardian

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When Václav Havel first entered Prague Castle after becoming president of Czechoslovakia in 1989, he and his team ("a group of friends from various branches of the arts") found wires and concealed microphones everywhere, and a map revealing secret rooms.

Aug 16 2008 | Read Full Review of To the Castle and Back

The Guardian

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To the Castle and Back by Václav Havel Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop When the dissident playwright Václav Havel became president of...

Jan 24 2009 | Read Full Review of To the Castle and Back

Dramatic or literary art, Havel writes, attempts “to deal with [the] fundamental amorphousness of life, to uncover something like the structure of Being, to display in vivid terms its internal weave, its hidden structure, and its real articulation.” Too often politics appears as a “strange, never...

Jul 06 2007 | Read Full Review of To the Castle and Back

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