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August 21st The Rape of Czechoslovakia

By: Colin Chapman (432.3/36057)
Publisher: J B Lippncoptt Company From the John Laffin Library

This is the first account in book form of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, describing in detail the events between August 21 and October 1 1968. It is a short book, written under intense pressure, but it is brilliantly clear, intelligent, and vivid; and it is not likely to be superseded by the longer books that will come later.

Colin Chapman, Foreign News Editor of London's Sunday Times, tells a story at once tragic and inspiring-tragic because except for Kremlin blunders it might never have happened, inspiring because it portrays the bold and spontaneous defiance of the Czechs against an invading force 650,000 strong. The author takes us not only into the cities and villages of Czechoslovakia, but to the White House, the Kremlin, and Downing Street; and even into the ranks of the invading troops. He describes the resistance tactics: as primitive as putting upturned pitchforks in the bath of oncoming tanks; as sophisticated as the incredible relay system that enabled Czech television and radio to continue clandestine service to the beleaguered people.

The arrest of the Czech leaders and their reaction to Brezhnev's harsh ultimatum are also described. Special emphasis is given to two men: Ota Sik, the dimpled five-foot-four Pilsener who masterminded Czech economic reforms, and the stubborn Slovak Alexander Dubcek, First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (whose father lived for some years in America).

Did the Czech attempts to liberalise their government constitute and out-and-out rebellion against the principles of Marx? Or were they a sincere attempt to improve socialism? In his final chapter the author draws some conclusions and analyzes the long-range implications of the Czech tragedy for Communism.

March 2009

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