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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, which is a comprehensive and fast-moving account of the history of the Czechs and their lands.

I teach (management) with the International Program of an American university in Prague. My students are almost all Czech and I greatly admire them and love the magical city of Prague. To help me understand my students and their context, I learned Czech and read Czech history pretty extensively. My interests, which focus on the period from the creation of the First Republic (1918) until the Velvet Revolution (1988/9), are explored by many current history texts. However, while specific periods in Czech history are dealt with, a truly comprehensive history has not been available.

This is now remedied. What Hugh Agnew provides, is a very readable, fast-moving text that covers Czech history from the eighth century until the present. The book is excellently researched and the style, while erudite and flowing, is without any pedantic undertone. Of great importance, changing political and power patterns of a broader European region are explored and their impact on the Czech lands explained. This provides the reader with a wider focus and sets Czech historical developments within a European context; something that many histories fail to do, or fail to do adequately.

A second significant issue is that Agnew deals even-handedly with competing forces in the Czech political and power scene. There has been a tendency for many historians, especially earlier Czechs writers, to follow predetermined fault lines in approaching their subject. This is often reflected in stereotypical themes of Germanic influence and Czech efforts to counter this. While Agnew deals sympathetically with the renascence of Czech national identity and aspirations he preserves a fine degree of informed criticism and balance.

I greatly enjoyed reading Hugh Agnew's book and think that many will find that it provides a much-needed, complete, balanced, and enthusiastic overview of Czech politics and the evolution of national identity. It provides excellent coverage and material for multiple ways of expressing the evolution of the Czech lands and the growth of a distinctive Czech national identity.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I read location appropriate books when I travel and I bought this book among others for a recent holiday in Prague. The history of the area is rich and complex and of course, lengthy! This book thoroughly covers over a thousand years of history balanced nicely between periods with a perfect level of detail, moving between key events and quickly describing the key players. It was a nice enhancement to my visits to many of these places.

I recommend the book for anyone who wishes to learn more about this region of the world and I also recommend visiting there!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book gives us a good general overview of the history of the Czech people and of the Bohemian crown lands. Its main flaw, common with many other similar books, is unbalanced coverage of events from chronological point of view. There was a disproportional attention given to events in newer history at expense of more distant past. Roughly half of the book deals with the history in the period between 1914 and 2002, although this area entered the history as early as in the 9th century. The newest history since 1989 is especially excessively presented in a too detailed way and it would be better to use this space for more exhaustive presentation of more distant history. Otherwise, the author is fair and ideologically and ethnically impartial and from this aspect no serious objections can be given against the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Being half Czech, I was hoping that this book would give me an interesting history of the Czech people. Unfortunately the book is far from interesting and although it does cover the history it does it in a way that can only be described as boring at best. It is apparent (at least it seems that way) that the author did not do much research into the early history of Bohemia or at least didn't care to spend much time writing about it.

The first half of the book bounces from ruler to ruler without making it clear what is going on and how it is effecting the Czech people. Rulers capture or marry to get this territory or that but the author just moves on without making it clear exactly what is going on. Bohemia was part of the Holy Roman Empire but the author fails to describe what is going on there or what is going on in Europe in general. For example, the events leading up to Second Defenestration of Prague that started the Thirty Years War is so poorly described that the reader is left wondering why exactly the three gentlemen were tossed out the window.

The reason for this seems to be that the author's main interest is the 20th century especially the most recent period starting with the 1990's. The events starting with World War I are described in detail while the period prior to that is mostly skimmed through. This is not necessarily a bad thing but the book does make the claim to be a history of the Czechs and the land of the Bohemian Crown. If the author had a more interesting writing style I would have given the book 4 stars but I found it mostly a struggle to get through. Writing a history that covers 1,000 years does require the ability to make your subject interesting. Unfortunately the author mostly lacks that ability.
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on November 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
Very disappointing - think of the most dull, boring text book you had to fight to get through in school; it was probably written by this fellow! My family is Czech, my father and all before him where born there, so I am very interested In Czech history. Thinking I might learn a little and have a good read, I bought this book. While there is something to be learned here, the writing style is so good-awful boring it was hard to get through it. I'm the type of person who will read a good book in one or two sittings --it took me over a year to get through this book, and then only because I felt I had to. I would not recommend this book to anyone, there has to be better books about the Czech people and lands out there.
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on March 30, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I could have done with a lot more maps, but if you want to know about the history of the Cz's, and understand their relationship with their larger neighbor (Germany) then this is a good book. Possibly more information about Jungman and how the Cz language almost became extinct would have been good. But an excellent book.
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on September 15, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A comprehensive study of the central European region where I was born. There was so much I learned that I now feel far more connected with my past and my ancestry.
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on April 10, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The author does waste a lot of words, really only good for a basic intro but suppose that is what it was meant for
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on March 16, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
excellent
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