cover image The Bell of Treason: The 1938 Munich Agreement in Czechoslovakia

The Bell of Treason: The 1938 Munich Agreement in Czechoslovakia

P.E. Caquet. Other Press, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59051-050-6

In this accessible and well-written history, Caquet (The Orient, the Liberal Movement, and the Eastern Crisis of 1839–41) analyzes the 1938 Munich Pact, which ceded the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia to Germany, from the perspective of Czechoslovakia. Caquet posits that, for the Czechoslovakians, “the tragedy of Munich... rested ultimately in an inability to communicate the right message, an almost nightmarish powerlessness” to explain their understanding of the situation. He follows Czechoslovakian political figures, including president Edvard Beneš, premier Milan Hodža, and foreign minister Kamil Krofta, during the months preceding the pact, through the failed diplomatic attempts to convince Britain and France to support a Czechoslovakian armed defense against any Nazi territorial grab, and then their floundering as Britain, France, and Germany determined the nation’s fate. Along with vividly explaining the political climate, diplomatic negotiations, and the pact’s immediate aftermath, Caquet argues against long-held justifications, for example that the pact provided “the Allies valuable time to rearm.” He also posits that an earlier Allied mobilization to protect Czechoslovakian soldiers and munitions manufacturers could have reduced the Reich’s overall destructive capabilities. Caquet translates original Czechoslovakian sources along with drawing on English-language histories, giving the book fresh perspectives and person-on-the-street recollections. This is an intelligent and valuable addition to WWII history. (June)