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Random House Inc
In an illuminating memoir, the former president of the Czech Republic details his odyssey from dissident playwright to politician, his battle against communism, and his thoughts on the future of the European Union, the role of national identity in today's world, the war in Iraq, his battle with lung cancer, the United States, and other topics.
As president of Czechoslovakia and of the nascent Czech Republic, playwright-turned-statesman Havel led central Europe out of communism and into the twenty-first century before stepping down in 2003. With this book, Havel reflects upon his 14 years at Prague Castle but resists the constraints of a traditional memoir, instead combining retrospective commentary with excerpts from memos written to his staff while in office. Although fragmentary and offered with minimal context, these excerpts provide a diarylike glimpse into a leader simultaneously confronting challenges both major (Havel's struggle against so-called Mafia capitalism) and mundane (Havel's struggle to master his own computer system). Besides providing insightful, gently ironic commentary on the rigors of democratic leadership, Havel's unconventional narrative form also highlights his personality--his struggles with writing, his fondness for smokers, and his admiration for Madeleine Albright--somewhat above his significant personal achievements. He also weighs in on current events, including the Iraq War and the obstacles to complete European unification. The net result is a fresh and intimate self-portrait.
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