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The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation : Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism - Bradley F. Abrams

The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation

Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism

Hardcover

Published: 1st April 2004
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This original study revisits the critical historical and cultural debates in Czech society immediately following World War II. Bradley F. Abrams discovers that communist public figures were largely successful in controlling the discourse over the nation's recent past-the interwar First Republic and the experiences of Munich and World War II-and over its location on the East-West continuum. This success was later mirrored in the struggles over socialism, the burning political issue of the time. The communists engaged their political foes in the democratic socialist and Roman Catholic camps, and, surprisingly, found significant support from a major Protestant church. The author's careful reading of major publications of the day vividly recreates a postwar mood sympathetic to radical social change, thus casting doubt on the standard view of the communists' rise to power. A rich contribution to our understanding of Czech history, this book also raises provocative questions about the relationship between war and radical social change, the communist takeover of the region, and the role of intellectuals in public life.

Extraordinary. . . . Abrams's superb work can be read with profit by generalists as well as by historians of Central and Eastern Europe. Highly recommended. * CHOICE *
Abrams work will certainly set the standard on this subject for years to come. -- Melissa Feinberg, University of North Carolina at Charlotte * Habsburg, March 2005 *
An important part of the scholarly reexamination of the cold war since the fall of European communism is the questioning of traditionally accepted verities. One of the most hallowed of these is the notion that the establishment of communism in Central and Eastern Europe was purely a function of Soviet military occupation. That this was not the case in Czechoslovakia, and perhaps, by analogy, not nearly as much as we once believed to have been the case in other countries, is the theme of Bradley Abrams'sexcellent book.... [T]he period from 1945 to 1948...is minutely and superbly studied. We are all indebted to Abrams for so beautifully reminding us that history really does have something to teach us, even when it is about an episode that most of the world would rather forget.. * East European Politics and Societies *
Overall, this is an excellent book, meticulously researched and well organized, it succeeds in setting a new agenda for Czechoslovak history in the Cold War-free world. -- Sam Johnson, University of Sheffield * Seer *
Abram's work is well researched. It would be a very useful read for undergraduates in history, Czech culture courses or for those readying themselves for study abroad in Prague. -- Cynthia A. Klima, SUNY: College at Geneso * Slavic and East European Journal *
The communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia, a country known for its democratic exceptionalism during the interwar era, has long attracted the interest of historians of the region. With this intellectual history of Czechoslovakia's postwar political culture, Bradley F. Abrams makes a valuable addition to the historiography of the topic.

By carefully reconstructing the development of postwar political culture in Czechoslovakia, Abrams lays to rest any remaining notion of a top-down imposition of communism by Soviet outsiders who together with a few domestic fellow travelers subverted Czechoslovakia in 1948. As he demonstrates, the Communist Party had broad popular support in Czechoslovakia. Clearly written and well argued, this volume should be of interest to modern European historians as well as to those involved in Cold War and communist/postcommunist studies. -- Nancy M. Wingfield, Northern Illinois University * American Historical Review *
An important part of the scholarly reexamination of the cold war since the fall of European communism is the questioning of traditionally accepted verities. One of the most hallowed of these is the notion that the establishment of communism in Central and Eastern Europe was purely a function of Soviet military occupation. That this was not the case in Czechoslovakia, and perhaps, by analogy, not nearly as much as we once believed to have been the case in other countries, is the theme of Bradley Abrams's excellent book.... [T]he period from 1945 to 1948...is minutely and superbly studied. We are all indebted to Abrams for so beautifully reminding us that history really does have something to teach us, even when it is about an episode that most of the world would rather forget. * East European Politics and Societies *

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: The Cold War and Contemporary Understandings of the Communist Takeover of Czechoslovakiap. 1
Czech Intellectuals Enter the Postwar World
World War II and the East European Revolutionp. 9
Intellectuals in the Czech Environmentp. 39
Four Groups of Postwar Czech Intellectualsp. 53
The Interpretation and Reinterpretation of Czech History and the Reorientation of the Czech Nation
The Communist Aim: The Creation of a New Czechoslovakiap. 89
The Battle over the Recent Past I: The Experiences of Munich and World War IIp. 104
The Battle over the Recent Past II: The First Republic and Tomas G. Masarykp. 118
The Shift in Sensibilities and Generations: May 5, 1945, versus October 28, 1918p. 139
The Reorientation of National Identity: Czechs between East and Westp. 156
The Meaning of Socialism
Socialism and Communist Intellectuals: The "Czechoslovak Road to Socialism"p. 178
Socialism and Democratic Socialist Intellectuals: The "New Socialist Ethos"p. 199
Socialism and Roman Catholic Intellectuals: The "Fateful Struggle between Spirit and Matter"p. 234
Socialism and Protestant Intellectuals: The "Kingdom of God on Earth"?p. 253
Conclusion: The End of Czechoslovak Democracy and the Rise of Communism in Eastern Europep. 275
Appendixp. 289
Notesp. 296
Bibliographyp. 347
Indexp. 357
About the Authorp. 363
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780742530232
ISBN-10: 074253023X
Series: The Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 372
Published: 1st April 2004
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.6  x 3.1
Weight (kg): 0.71