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The Europe-based journalist Timothy Garton Ash's We the People: the Revolutions of 1989 features gripping I-was-there accounts of the revolutions that swept away the region's old guard in 1989.William Shawcross' Dubcek & Czechoslovakia is a biography of the late leader of Prague's original Spring, with a hasty post-1989 update. Another biography is Michael Simmons' The Reluctant President: A Political Life of Vaclav Havel.Several books by the dissident-turned-president, Vaclav Havel, offer an 'inside' view. Disturbing the Peace is a collection of recent historical musings. Letters to Olga is a collection of letters to his wife from prison in the 1980s. Living in Truth is a series of absorbing political essays.Milan Kundera is one of the Czech Republic's best-known authors-in-exile, who wrote about life under the Communist regime. His best novel is probably Joke; two other notable works are The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Other good reads are Cowards by Josef Skvoreck√Ĺ, The Ship Named Hope by Ivan Klima and anything by Bohumil Hrabal.Jaroslav Hasek's The Good Soldier Svejk is good low-brow WW I humour about the trials of the republic's literary mascot, written in instalments from Prague's pubs.Bruce Chatwin's Utz is a quiet, absorbing novella about a porcelain collector in Prague's old Jewish quarter.

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