HOPE DIES LAST by Alexander Dubcek


The Autobiography of Alexander Dubcek
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 A disappointingly passionless memoir from one of the 20th century's greater spirits. Best remembered for the high-profile reformist role he played during the so-called Prague Spring of 1968, Dubcek died last year (at age 72) following a road accident in Bohemia. Before his passing, he'd completed a rough draft of his autobiography but--despite the efforts of editor/collaborator Hochman (a Czech-born journalist who contributes an illuminating afterword)--the published text can most charitably be described as deadly earnest and tediously detailed. The son of Slovak-American parents who returned to their homeland prior to WW II's outbreak, Dubcek joined a guerrilla unit and was wounded in battle against the Germans before they were routed by Soviet forces. Always politically active at the grass- roots level, the young idealist worked his way up through the ranks of the Communist Party, which, in 1948, seized power in Czechoslovakia before scheduled elections could be held. Two decades on, Dubeck was in the vanguard of a liberalization movement whose democratic platform captured the wider world's imagination- -and outraged Kremlin hard-liners. Warsaw Pact troops invaded the insurgent satellite in August 1968, dashing any immediate hopes of ``socialism with a human face'' and bundling Dubcek (who had replaced a Stalinist as CP boss) off to Moscow for public reflection. Consigned to work as a forester, he survived to abet the Velvet Revolution that rid his countrymen of the Soviet yoke in 1989. The decency and caution that were hallmarks of Dubcek's public career as an apostle of progressive change prove drawbacks in his personal testament. Weighed down by judicious assessments of dramatic events and overlong asides on yesteryear's political arcana, the pedestrian narrative never brings its author or his dreams to life. (Sixty photos)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56836-000-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993