THE SEVENTH NIGHT by Ladislav Mnacko


Email this review


In a sense, a eulogy for Czechoslovakia. The author, a Czech journalist and novelist and an outspoken supporter of the Dubcek regime, was forced to flee the country on the seventh night of the Soviet invasion. His intense book is a very personal record of the seven days and nights preceding his escape. Not only does Mnacko describe what happened--the arrival of the first tanks in Brataslava, the courageous Czech radio, widespread passive resistance--but he manages to put events into immediate and highly informative political perspective. Postwar Communist Czechoslovakia seems all of a piece--the staged Slansky trial of 1952, the bouts with censors, the rigidity under Novotny, the current invasion. For Mnacko, this invasion was a confirmation of his conviction that the Soviets intended ""the destruction of the Communist intelligentsia"" which was always a democratizing force. Even as he interweaves the present and his recollections of the past--both his career and the regime's--Mnacko writes of his hurried retreat to friends' apartments, the temporary refuge at the writer's country manor, and finally the taxi ride to the border. His tension permeates the narrative. The book is a self-confrontation and a confrontation of the Soviets. It is bleak, bitter, feverish, but eminently sane.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Dutton