A timely entry in the ""World Leaders"" series, which includes both the good and the bad. Masaryk (1850-1937), architect of the Czechoslovakia that emerged from the Hapsburg Empire after WW I, was yew good indeed. If he is new to most readers, it is in part because his work was undone by later history. Masaryk was a brilliant man who rose from the peasant class to become a philosophy professor, a man of the world, and--late in life--a powerful political leader. Through a combination of idealism, marketing (he courted world leaders, even traveling to Washington to meet Woodrow Wilson), and a good dose of luck, he was able to build an army of supporters while in exile; he was the pivotal figure in winning self-government for the Czechs (who had been ruled by foreigners since the Middle Ages) and then served as their president from 1918 to 1935. Lewis, an authority on the political and social history of Central Europe, offers a balanced assessment of a man whose obsession came to grand fruition, albeit temporarily, and who is likely to be remembered soon again as a national hero. Evocatively presented turning points and an exceptional grasp of the strategies of war make this complicated story not only readable but suspenseful. Bibliography; chronology; illustrated with photos; index.