In This Review

Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia
Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia
By James Mace Ward
Cornell University Press, 2013, 376 pp
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This is a brilliant, mature work from a young scholar. Its maturity derives from the balance that it brings to a charged subject -- the life of Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest who championed Slovak independence and allied himself with Adolf Hitler during World War II -- from the intelligence of the argument that Ward melds with this disconcerting biography, and from the unpretentious clarity with which it is written. In tracing Tiso’s life -- from childhood to the scaffold on which the Czechoslovakian government executed him in 1947 -- and identifying its tortured echoes in contemporary Slovakia, Ward probes the effect of Catholicism on the Slovak nationalism of the 1930s and on the priest’s own lethal form of anti-Semitic self-justification. Ward depicts Tiso as defined by dualities -- conviction and convenience, faith and politics, Christianity and Nazism -- and embodying the complexity, extremes, hopes, and tragedies of the Czechs and the Slovaks during the 1930s.