Under A Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968 and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $16.95
  • Save: $3.28 (19%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: pages are clean and easy to read. Ships fast with tracking
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968 Paperback – January 1, 1997


See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$13.67
$7.75 $0.21


Frequently Bought Together

Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968 + Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Price for both: $21.55

One of these items ships sooner than the other.

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Image
Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc. (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0841913773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0841913776
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Jew in Czechoslovakia under the Nazis, Kovaly spent the war years in the Lodz ghetto and several concentration camps, losing her family and barely surviving herself. Returning to Prague at the end of the war, she married an old friend, a bright, enthusiastic young Jewish economist named Rudolf Margolius, who saw the country's only hope for the future in the Communist Party. Thereafter, Rudolf became deputy minister for foreign trade. For a time, the Margoliuses lived like royalty, albeit reluctantly, but then, in a replay of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Rudolf and others, mostly of Jewish background, were arrested and hung in the infamous Slansky Trial of 1952. Kovaly's memoir of these years that end with her emigration to the West after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 are a tragic story told with aplomb, humor and tenderness. The reader alternately laughs and cries as Kovaly describes her mother being sent to death by Dr. Mengele, Czech Communist Party leader Klement Gottwald drunk at a reception, the last sight of her husband, the feverish happiness of the Prague Spring. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An exceptionally intimate and poignant memoir by a Czechoslovakian exile. Kovaly, a Jew, was forcibly deported to a Nazi labor camp in the early days of German occupation. A spirited woman, she not only survived the camp but returned to Prague to wed her childhood sweetheart, Rudolf Margolius. Though their fortunes rose in the postwar era, Rudolf eventually lost his life in the Stalinist purges of the early Fifties, leaving Heda to face life as a nonperson. Kovaly's recollections of her life during the purges form the core of the book and convey with brutal clarity the magnitude of suffering inflicted on thousands of Czechs. Her brief impressions of the famous "Prague Spring" of 1968 are also illuminating. Recommended for libraries with large Eastern European collections. Joseph W. Constance, Jr., Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
46
4 star
10
3 star
3
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 59 customer reviews
A simple narrative style is employed, with a few lyrical passages.
algo41
It is a comfort to the reader that Kovaly lived long enough to see her country finally liberated from the shadow of communism following the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Leyla Sanai
The reader can only be very happy that Ms. Kovaly was able to survive and overcome her ordeals and be able to write about her life.
Crosslands

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Kovaly writes with precision and a welcome lack of sentimentality about the attractions for East-Central Europeans to communism after the war, especially for Jews who had survived fascism. In the first half of this memoir, she avoids the overly and sadly familiar vignettes of camp inmates to instead explore in detail the unfamiliar story of what happens to an escapee from the death camp who wanders back to Prague, while the Nazis still rule the city.
Her scenes of homelessness and fear, as her former friends often become terrified at seeing her alive and sheltering her from the Germans, reveal a fresh persective on a refugee who ironically seems to be more endangered outside Auschwitz than if she had stayed within the lager. After the war, she shows how the Jews returning to their homes found their possessions and livelihoods stolen, and how many of their fellow Czechs had brazenly or surreptitiously commandeered the houses and the property for themselves, since the Jews could do little to regain these items.
Kovaly then explains how the appeal to a more just system, rather than the beleaguered democracy that tried to revive postwar Czechoslovakia, began to fool idealistic Czechs into supporting a communism based more on the lies of those who dared not tell the truth of Stalinism, as well as those who genuinely sought--as her first husband Rudolf Margolius--to bring about a better world through Marxism on more of a Titoist model.
Many pages that follow could serve as a primer for exposing how communist dreams began to replace harsh reality for many Czechs. In incisive prose, with well-chosen metaphors and vignettes, she excels in comparing her own search to that of her husband and his fellow believers.
Read more ›
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book should be required reading for all students of the 20th century. I am continually struck by the amazing life Kovaly lived and the great skill with which she writes about it. The only weakness of this book is that it occaisionally goes out of print, which is a crime. It is an unrecognized classic and should rank alongside Primo Levi and Anne Frank as the most telling memoirs of the war and its aftermath.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Ivan Margolius on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
My mother's book, in print since 1973 under various titles, the last being 'Under A Cruel Star', inspired me to write my own side of the story about my lost father, JUDr Rudolf Margolius. Now published and called 'Reflections of Prague: Journeys through the 20th century' it fills gaps in my mother's book provided by further research and historical information, some of which was not available to her and which many readers of her book had asked us for over the years. Hopefully this companion volume provides answers to these questions. I hope you find this book interesting and would welcome your feedback.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By m1150 on May 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the best book I have read on the experience of the wartime generation in Central Europe. The author escapes from Auschewitz and marries Rudolf Margolius, a fellow Holocaust survivor, after the war. Like many disillusioned Czechs, they join the Communist Party in the hope of creating a future where such horrors could never happen again. Rudolf becomes a high-ranking technocrat in the government, and for a brief time the family lives in reasonable comfort. Tragically, they learn the Party is just setting them up for persecution, poverty, hardship and, for Heda and her son, eventual exile. They are the lucky ones.
Reading this book should rid you of any illusions you have about the Communists and help you to understand the Orwellian world of the 1950s Soviet Bloc.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Ansty on April 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I had to read 'Under a Cruel Star' for a history class I'm taking, and I wasn't pleased about it at all. However, once I read the first page of this narrative account of a Jewish Woman's experience in Prague during and after WWII I was mesmerized, I didn't put the book down until I finished 3 hours later.
This is a fantastic book both for people wanting to learn something about the surviving the Holocaust and re-building life afterwards, and for someone who wants to become emotionally invested in a strong, interesting character.
The story tells of Heda's experiences from the year 1941, when she was taken from her home and sent to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and later to Auschwitz, to the year 1968 when Russia invades Czechoslovakia. In between Heda escapes from Nazi persecution, arrives back home to Prague to friends less than friendly, helps liberate Prague from Germany, marries, raises a child, experiences 1984-like governmental opression, is fired from job after job for having the name Margolius, and in the end survives to tell her tale.
The is a great novel that I would higly recomend to anyone interested in the Holocaust, Communism society, or just wants a good story of a woman faced with hardship who manages to survive.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Erin Klitzke on April 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
....but Under a Cruel Star is an excellent book. As a history major, I have to slosh through a lot of stuff that's not necessarily interesting or engaging, so Kovaly's book was a breath of fresh air. It was eminently readable and fascinating -- I had two weeks to read it and finished it within the space of a few hours because I just couldn't bring myself to put it down. She does a good job in her memoir of showing us what life in Prague was like after the Germans came and were followed by the Stalinists (I cannot say Communists, because Communists they were not). Her tale is gripping, speaking of the dearest hope of a people with no hope left, only to be betrayed by those who offered them the very hope that sustained them. An excellent read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews