Why this book?
For years, I used to walk past the statues of St. Wenceslaus, František Palacký, and other Czech national heroes without giving them much thought. After reading this book, I came to appreciate how much Prague’s monuments can tell us about the city’s history. Their creators offered a variety of interpretations over the meaning of “Czechness”, and these monuments have inspired passionate debates about nationhood and religion ever since. The book also made me think about ways that monuments can exclude others and inspire hatred, and not just in Prague. Consider, for example, statues celebrating the Confederacy erected by white supremacists decades after the end of the Civil War. Many still dot my part of the country.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
The Czechs struggled to define their national identity throughout the modern era. Prague, the capital of a diverse area comprising Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Poles, Ruthenians, and Romany as well as various religious groups including Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, became central to…