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 Skvorecký, 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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