In This Review

Hope Dies Last: The Autobiography of Alexander Dubcek
Hope Dies Last: The Autobiography of Alexander Dubcek
Edited by Jiri Hochman
Kodansha International, 1993, 354 pp

Even if he had not been at the center of the drama in 1968, Dubcek's story would be fascinating in itself. He was born, as he says, of "a pair of Slovak socialist dreamers who happened to have emigrated to Chicago" and who took him as a small boy to Kyrgyzstan for 12 years, and then to Gorky on the Volga for five years, returning to Slovakia in time for 1938. He recounts these experiences with a detail that must have been assembled at a much later age. After a brisk description of his rise within the Slovak Communist Party following the war, most of the book is saved for the events of 1967-68. He adds color to what we already know of the Prague Spring, but nothing particularly new. The point at which the memoir becomes truly engaging is after his reform (and, to a degree that seems surprisingly out of character, he makes the reform his) is crushed, and he and his closest colleagues are spirited off to Moscow like convicts to be browbeaten by Brezhnev and three other members of the Politburo.