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Re: Books

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  • Ron Matviyak
    Maura & All, I started out looking for history on Slovakia in the 1960 s because I grew up in a Slovak family in an American neighborhood. Both parents spoke
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 29, 2000
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      Maura & All,

      I started out looking for history on Slovakia in the 1960's because I
      grew up in a Slovak family in an American neighborhood. Both parents
      spoke the language, we maintained ties to the uncles and aunts in
      Czechoslovakia, but we didn�t learn the language at home. This all
      sparked my interest. There was extremely little Slovak history out
      there. Over the years I gathered bits and pieces and accepted what was
      available without regard to political color of the writing. I was
      impressed by the passionate hatreds and firm beliefs of the writers and
      developed my own concept of propaganda from these readings. Quite a few
      of the were embittered right wing people who had to flee the communists
      when they took over, and their hatred of communism was fired even more
      by being forced to give up their beloved homeland.

      One of these people is Josef Kirchbaum, father of the author of �A
      History of Slovakia", Stanislav Kirchbaum. After settling in Canada the
      Kirchbaums evidently led a scholarly life with university teaching,
      speaking several languages and the boy who is now the author - and I
      believe a professor in his own right. Josef also busied himself as
      contributor and editor of many books and documents for the Slovak World
      Conference. He had been a chief in the academic Hlinka guards, perhaps
      the closest things to fascists in Slovakia. He finished the war as a
      diplomat in Switzerland, which probably saved his life.

      All of this is background to establish why I bought Stanislav�s book
      and read it with a jaundiced eye, watching carefully for parroting of
      his father�s perspective or going off course to justify or white wash
      the right wing Tiso regime.

      I found no white washing, no hiding, nothing out of order with the
      history I have read from many sources for 30 years. I recommend
      Stanislav Kirchbaum�s �A History of Slovakia" as the best and most
      balanced history of Slovakia I have encountered. If you have only one
      book on Slovak history, this is the one I recommend.

      On the negative side, one on line review complains that he does not
      adequately cover the Jewish situation in WW II. He devotes six pages to
      that specific history. It is a matter of taste and judgment as to how
      much space a book covering 1000 years of history of the Slovak people
      should properly devote to this major tragic incident.

      I will recommend a second book in a second sending, as this is too long


      Maura Petzolt wrote:
      > From: sabinov@... (Maura Petzolt)
      > I'd also be interested in opinions on this History of Slovakia book.....
      > I actually spent this rainy day in Barnes and Noble looking for
      > appropriate books for all my research, and was disappointed that while
      > there were many books on Irish and German history and villages etc,
      > there was only -one- I could find applicable to this region.... and that
      > was A History of the Hapsburg Empire , which looked interesting, but
      > reminded me too much of my college required reading, and had only one
      > specific page devoted to anything "Slovak" according to the index (and
      > that was about the language when I went to the page).
      > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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