Customer Reviews: Czech Republic - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
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Customer Reviews

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on August 3, 2011
First, I must point out that I am Czech, which inevitably brings two things: I know in detail specifics of Czech soul, and of course I carry with myself (as this book does) slightly biased looking at the matter. Especially because I'm in a second part of my twentieths and virtually don't know how the life used to be during the communist era, which unfortunately negatively affected the older generation. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time abroad and I have a lot of foreign friends (in Prague and elsewhere), so I think that I can look at the whole matter with a certain amount of detachment.

The book attempts to analyze the specifics of Czech culture and soul, in which --to some extent-- it succeeds. However, especially the first three or four parts of the book are a dangerous mix of excellent points, errors and prejudices. The author spent in the Czech Republic about four years and it seems to me that she often didn't get to the heart of the matter (in understanding the Czechs) and remained only on the surface. Likewise, (especially in the penultimate section of the book) she puts her mind on only one experience, which backfired several times. Generalization is a dangerous thing.

In many cases where I disagree with the book, my age is to blame. Simply put, the young generation that never knew the communism (i.e. 25 years or less), is quite different from my parents' generation. We are more optimistic (i.e. to the question "How are you?" we regularly answer "Well.", which is in contrary to the book), we are not obsessed with titles (again in contrary to the book), we don't mind when others have more/better things (in contrary to the book)... Just to name a few of examples I had on the top of my mind.

Although, some mistakes I found in the book fall within the competence of the author. I can think of some of them:
* "Desire to support Czech culture manifests itself in the dubbing of nearly all programs on Czech television." - This is a habit carried over from the past (communism), which we unfortunately didn't get rid of (yet). I hope it will come soon.
* "Czech law states that one vacation should be at least two weeks in length." - I've never heard of such a thing, nor experienced it with my parents or relatives.
* "Birthdays are celebrated on a smaller scale than name days." - On the contrary.
* "A money belt worn under your clothes is the best way to carry cash, credit cards, and identity documentation." - Sure, Prague is a very popular city among tourists which unfortunately attracts gangs of pickpockets (as well as any other overcrowded city full of tourists do). However, the Czech Republic is one of the safest countries in the world. Try to google for "Global Peace Index".

All in all, I recommend the book because it contains many good insights. However, the author herself emphasizes the role of the book as a mean of eliminating prejudice, so do not take the content too dogmatically. If you're not sure, ask some Czech. :-) Common sense can tell you as well.
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on April 12, 2015
Excellent guide! Anyone contemplating travel should invest in one of these books first. There are many things we do out of habit and take for granted. Unfortunately, these efforts can often backfire in another country. For instance, if you're invited over for dinner in the Czech Republic, you don't ask (once you've arrived), "Is there anything I can do to help?" To them, this implies that the hostess is inept. Make your visit to another country more enjoyable. Buy one of these guides!
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on January 14, 2013
Perhaps this is useful only for someone desiring superficial information about Czech culture, etc. I was hoping for something with depth, detail (what, when, where, why). A certain amount of the content would also now be considered out-dated, which, if you're talking about customs and etiquette, is, in itself, a strange commentary on the book's content, I know. But it had that kind of generality to it.
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on January 11, 2014
This book is mostly written for short term tourists or travelers to the Czech Republic. If you want basic information about the country, it's history, people, and culture; this book is for you. Don't expect to learn everything about the Czechs, as this book just gives you the basic rundown, not going too in depth into any particular subject. Some of the information is more "common sense" than anything (regarding travel safety advice). However, I do recommend this book as a good first read to introduce yourself to the Czech Republic. I learned a lot.
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on January 12, 2014
Current and relevant... thoroughly discusses public transportation and expectations for business dealings. I found the author's insight into Czech history as it affects the culture quite informative.
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on October 4, 2014
I like this for getting to know more about the country before going. I've been there a dozen times but this book still helps reveal some new things.
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on April 18, 2016
Love the style of culture smart books. Lots of interesting info. This one seems out of date in sections
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on March 26, 2012
This is a great book to read prior to taking a trip to the Czech Republic and has a wealth of informationn about the culture.
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