When Norman Eisen moved into the US ambassador’s residence in Prague, returning to the land his mother had fled after the Holocaust, he was startled to discover swastikas hidden beneath the furniture in his new home. These symbols of Nazi Germany were remnants of the residence’s forgotten history, and evidence that we never live far from the past.
From that discovery unspooled the twisting, captivating tale of four of the remarkable people who had called this palace home. Their story is Europe’s, and The Last Palace chronicles the upheavals that transformed the continent over the past century. There was the optimistic Jewish financial baron, Otto Petschek, who built the palace after World War I as a statement of his faith in democracy, only to have that faith shattered; Rudolf Toussaint, the cultured, compromised German general who occupied the palace during World War II, ultimately putting his life at risk to save the house and Prague itself from destruction; Laurence Steinhardt, the first postwar US ambassador whose quixotic struggle to keep the palace out of Communist hands was paired with his pitched efforts to rescue the country from Soviet domination; and Shirley Temple Black, an eyewitness to the crushing of the 1968 Prague Spring by Soviet tanks, who determined to return to Prague and help end totalitarianism—and did just that as US ambassador in 1989.
Weaving in the life of Eisen’s own mother to demonstrate how those without power and privilege moved through history, The Last Palace tells the dramatic and surprisingly cyclical tale of the triumph of liberal democracy.
|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
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Table of Contents
Map of Prague, 1918-2018 vi
Author's Note x
1 The Golden Son Of The Golden City 13
2 The King Of Coal 39
3 Palace Neverending 61
4 The Final Child 82
5 An Artist Of War 101
6 The Most Dangerous Man In The Reich 126
7 Is Prague Burning? 147
8 "If You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going" 163
9 "He Who Is Master Of Bohemia Is Master Of Europe" 177
10 Lush Life 196
11 Small Salvations 212
12 "Never, Never, Never Give In" 241
13 Nothing Crushes Freedom Like A Tank 259
14 A Revolutionary Production 283
15 Truth Prevails 308
16 "The Past Is Never Dead. It's Not Even Past." 336
Sources And Acknowledgments 359