ROWBOAT TO PRAGUE by Alan Levy

ROWBOAT TO PRAGUE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another first-person account of the Prague Spring and the Soviet invasion, by an American who had settled there with his family in January 1968, becoming the first accredited U.S. journalist in the country and rather surprisingly remaining unmolested until 1971. There is a great deal of marginal, self-referring narrative, touristic-expatriate exploration of the city, and descriptions of artists and filmmakers who befriended Levy; he has written for Life, Good Housekeeping, the New York Times Magazine, etc. The elan, though not the political sociology, of the thaw comes across. The past career of Dubcek, to whom the book is dedicated, is uncritically reviewed; Ota Sik's economic reforms and the Czech ""economic bridge to the West"" are mentioned but not explored. Then Russian pressure begins and Levy hears about the occupation in a phone call from his agent in the States. ""The Great Befriendment,"" as the invaders termed it, is conveyed through anecdotes and graffiti, many now familiar; the soldiers who shot children and the soldiers who shot themselves, the American secret agent who mistook Levy for his contact, the suspense as the Czech leaders ""negotiated"" with the Russians. . .along with obligatory references to Kafka and the Good Soldier Schweik. Compared with Tad Szulc's rich backgrounding in Czechoslovakia Since Worm War H (1970), the book is thin, but for ""color"" it is fairly rewarding and at times quite moving, owing in part to Levy's earnest affection for and involvement with the Czech people.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Grossman