Dreams of a Great Small Nation: The Mutinous Army that Threatened a Revolution, Destroyed an Empire, Founded a Republic, and Remade the Map of Europe

Kevin J. McNamara. PublicAffairs, $28.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-61039-484-0
In this captivating narrative history, foreign policy scholar McNamara reveals the obscure yet grand story of how a small, motley, and hastily organized army ushered in the founding of the nation of Czechoslovakia. The Czech and Slovak ethnic groups had for centuries been second-class subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, enduring harsh oppression within the expansive and divided domains of the anachronistic monarchical regime. The upheaval of WWI provided opportunities to act on long-held nationalist yearnings. TomáĹ%A1 Masaryk (1850–1937), a resolute philosophy professor and protagonist in this story (aided by Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Ĺ tefánik), embarked on an ambitious effort to organize a Czech-Slovak army from POW camps in Russia, aiming to support the Allied war effort in return for support for a postwar independent state. Masaryk successfully united Czechs and Slovaks abroad, cultivated international support, raised funds, and recruited military volunteers, while the Czech-Slovak forces—despite plenty of difficulties, particularly amid revolutionary tumult in Russia—won a long series of victories that galvanized their struggle. McNamara proves to be a great storyteller as he very effectively weaves together newly translated firsthand accounts of Czech-Slovak soldiers with secondary historical sources. Maps. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-61039-485-7
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