The Struggle for the Soul of a Nation: Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism

In This Review

The Struggle for the Soul of a Nation: Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism

By Bradley F. Abrams
Rowman & Littlefield, 2004
372 pp. $79.00

Now that the final chapter of communism in Eastern Europe has closed, historians can take a fresh crack at explaining its life cycle. Abrams addresses its birthing years, 1945-1948, in the Czech regions, arguing that the long-popular image of communism arriving on the bayonets of the Red Army or, in the case of Czechoslovakia, through a Moscow-orchestrated coup in February 1948 vastly understates the genuine support enjoyed by the Czechoslovak Communist Party and the left more generally. Czechoslovakia, of course, was not Poland or Hungary, neither of which was haunted by Munich, inclined to see the Soviets as liberators, or conflicted in the choice between Eastern and Western political culture. Abrams focuses on the intelligentsia, because of its special role in Czech history, dividing it into four parts-communist, democratic socialist, Catholic, and Protestant-and tracing in detail how war, political and social currents, and human frailty privileged the first.

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