Read The Last Palace Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House


Ting narrative provides a look at the changing political climate in Prague The palace was built by Otto Petschek in the 1920 s his family was in banking and invested in the mines they were all uite wealthy Although Otto claimed to have an altruistic motive in building this ostentatious gem after reading this I think Otto just wanted a showcase to show how successful he was As smart as he thought he was as a Jewish family he didn t heed the warning signs about Nazi purgingUsing this palace as s continuous backdrop the author follows the historical time period by the subseuent people who live in the palace Touissant a Nazi general but one who decried Hitler s methods was the first Then the American Ambassadors Steinhardt and Shirley The Last Palace Europe s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House was a moving and beautiful memoir in which author Norman Eisen relates how financial magnate Otto Petschek had a dream to build a beautiful palace unlike any other for his family in the heart of Prague following World War I and as a testament to freedom and democracy Otto Petschek was mindful that his father and uncle had fled to Prague to escape a pogrom and were fearful of anti Semitism As a oung boy Otto was drawn not only to the music of Mozart and Beethoven but he also loved the majestic architecture as he walked through the beautiful city of Prague Eisen explores the history of the last century in Europe focusing on five individuals whose lives were part of the history and preservation of the Petschek palace from Nazi officer Rudolf Toussaint to Ambassadors Laurence Steinhardt and Shirley Temple Black Norman Eisen was appointed in 2011 by President Obama to serve as US Ambassador to the Czeck Republic and in residence at the palace Woven through this book is the story of Prague and Czechoslovakia after World War II as well as the poignant story of his mother who had fled from Prague after the Holocaust and the fears she had for his safety This was a lovely tribute to a palace and a city and all of the lives it impacted He would build a palace there It would be huge than a hundred rooms the entire length of a city block Its fa ade would marry the mathematically elegant columns of ancient Greece and the muscularity of Roman sculptural forms with the golden ratios of Italian Renaissance architecture and the majesty of French baroue Otto wandered the city wide eyed studying the rhythms in the stucco marble and plaster lining the city streets amalgams of centuries of European building Music is liuid architecture architecture is frozen music went the saying attributed to Goethe Their progression was punctuated by steeples belfries and turrets and by the Vlatava River which flowed through the middle of the city crisscrossed by ancient bridges connecting the Mala Strana to the Old Town Ruins may have been smoldering across Europe but the City of a Hundred Spires has not lost a single one to bombing Norm Eisen s The Last Palace is a fascinating look at 20th century Europe This history unfolds through the inhabitants of a singular palace in Prague built after World War I by a Jewish banker and industrialist confiscated by the Nazis during WWII then lived in by three conseuential American diplomats Eisen among them When I turned the page after reading through the first three fascinating people I expected number four to be a boring placeholder until we get to Eisen imagine my surprise when it turned out to be former child star turned diplomat Shirley temple black her chapters were perhaps the most Black Her chapters were perhaps the most of all to me Through reading this book I learned a great deal about Prague and Czechoslovakia now the Czech Republic and by extension Europe over the last century I was eually impressed how well written this history is since Eisen is an Thanks to the publisher Crown for providing an advance reviewing copyI like histories told through a place And what a place in this case Just imagine a Jewish man who grew up poor becoming a wealthy industrialist and deciding to build a grand palatial house in the heart of Prague one of the world s most beautiful cities Otto Petschek was well known an influencer and financier and a German speaker as most important people in Prague were at that time He was ebullient full of confidence and I m sure he thought his success and status in the city would continue for his life But while the palace lived on Petschek s life there did not once it became clear that the Nazis would roll into the country Norman Eisen tells a mostly 20th century history of the would roll into the country Norman Eisen tells a mostly 20th century history of the Prague Europe and the world through the residents of the palace Petschek during the Nazi era Colonel Rudolf Toussaint Germany military attach after the war Laurence Steinhardt US Ambassador Shirley Temple Black the former child star who witnessed the 1968 Russian invasion while she was visiting Prague and then the country s liberation when she became US Ambassador and finally Eisen himself who was appointed US Ambassador by President Obama Interspersed with the stories of the residents of the palace Eisen tells his mother s story of growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in a Slovak village surviving the Holocaust but being caught up in the anti Semitic restrictions of the Communist era and eventually managing to move to the US When he s appointed ambassador Norman Eisen is excited to be going to live in the Petschek palace he d heard so many stories about while his mother Frieda is filled with worry because of her experiences This adds a real poignancy to the storyThis is a compelling history thoroughly researched The Petschek part can be a little slow with its heavy focus on Petschek himself and the building of the palace but later parts focus on what was going on in the city and country with the palace taking on of a if these walls could talk role The Shirley Temple Black section is the most interesting not because of her celebrity but because she was an eyewitness to two of the most important times in the country s histor. S ambassador whose uixotic struggle to keep the palace out of Communist hands was paired with his pitched efforts to rescue the country from Soviet domination; and Shirley Temple Black an eyewitness to the crushing of the 1968 Prague Spring by Soviet tanks who determined to return to Prague and help end totalitarianism – and did just that as US ambassador in 1989Weaving in the life of Eisen’s own mother to demonstrate how those without power and privilege moved through history The Last Palace tells the dramatic and surprisingly cyclical tale of the endurance of liberal democracy. T care for how the author ended the story in regards to his mother The author did a fine job in telling his mom s life story and The Guitar Style of Jerry Reed you end up feeling this emotional connection to her I just wish a little could have been added about whether she actually followed through and made the trip I do think this book will appeal to even casual non fiction fans It certainly was fascinating than the last few books I have read in the genre Thankou to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy All views expressed are my honest opinion This book covers the life and times of a great house in Prague amid a tumultuous century for the city and the country It s worth noting that the book comes to print at a time of several anniversaries 50 الإيضاح لمتن ايساغوجي في المنطق years after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the crushing of the Prague Spring 80ears after the September 1938 Munich conference and the abandonment of Czechoslovakia to Nazi occupation 100 Riders of the Sea years after the end of World War I and the proclamation of Czech independenceThis is also the story of four people who cared for this beautiful landmark beginning with the Jewish coal baron Otto Petschek who built the palace in the 1920s spent much of his fortune constructing landscaping and furnishing it and dealing with labor trouble red tape and popular resentment of this display It s the story of Gen Rudolf Toussaint the German general who occupied the place but sought to preserve it as intact as possible even keeping Petschek s caretaker the General would by 1945 barely survive the liberation with his life and that of his sonIt s the amazing story of the first postwar US ambassador Laurence Steinhardt who would take up uarters there and act to preserve the house and its contents from Soviet soldiers and try to save the house and the country from communist seizure He would end up procuring the house as an embassy mostly intact despite resistance from the new city rulers and from the Petschek family estate but was unable to save democratic CzechoslovakiaTwo future ambassadors would come to the embassy in laterears because of ties to Czechoslovakia The author Norman Eisen would want this post because his mother Frieda a Czech Jew survived the Holocaust and returned to a bleak Prague and her story is part of this book Shirley Temple Black would come to Prague in 1968 as a socialite a former child star now visiting on behalf of a charity would witness the invasion and its bloodshed and came away determined to somehow rise in US diplomatic circles and return which she did in 1989 We see a determined steely side of her personality and her presence in Prague as the communist r gime was tottering would be important Her appearances as ambassador at demonstrations and resistance meetings would be a key part although she did acknowledge that the real stars here would be the resistance leaders like Vaclav Havel The reader will sense the very real danger as the r gime was desperate and tempted to use armed force as did happen that ear in Romania and ChinaNorman Eisen tells a compelling story and when he comes to Prague as ambassador he would absorb the palace s history and charm He would be startled to find inventory Labels Under The Furniture Bearing under the furniture bearing Nazi eagle and swastika and find US government inventory labels as well from the late 1940s and markings from the Petschek period well before He would also find new controversies as ambassador the country had become conservative and the then president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus was making trouble over an LGBT pride festival and US support for itIn all a highly compelling read with vivid characters in a rich setting in every sense amid a scary and eventful century Highly recommend The city of Prague is geographically in the middle of what we used to call Eastern Europe The city now the capital of the Czech Republic has long been a magical mystical place and its history is pretty much the history of the whole area I am half Czech like former US Ambassador Norman Eisen but my family immigrated to the US three or four generations ago He has a immediate connection with the country as his mother was a survivor of the Holocaust Eisen s mother left Czechoslovakia in Hitler s railroad cars as a oung woman and her son returned as the United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic in the Obama Administration Norman Eisen has written an unbelievably interesting book about one house two families three US ambassadors and countless others who were involved in the last 100 ears of history He takes the reader through four or is it five political systems which controlled and in some cases oppressed the Czech people Many people reading this review will know about the famous house in the CzechMoravian city of Brno Known as the Vila Tugendhat the Mies designed house was built in the late 1920 s by a wealthy Jewish family the Tugendhats The house is now a Unesco World Heritage site and was the subject of a work of fiction The Glass Room by British author Simon Mawrer But less well known is a fabulous palace built in Prague around the same time by Otto Petschek Like the Tugendhats the Petschek family fled Europe in the 1930 s The around the same time by Otto Petschek Like the Tugendhats the Petschek family fled Europe in the 1930 s The was left behind and was eventually used by the United States as an official residence both before WW2 and after During the war the house was used by a German general Rudolf Toussaint Eisen writes about Toussaint and the German occupation post WW2 ambassador Laurence Steinhardt who tried to settle the RussianUSCzech political and military crunch and lastly Shirley Temple Black Black was in Prague during the 1968 uprising and returned in the late 1980 s presiding over the Velvet Revolution as our ambassador Scattered through the book is the story of Frieda Eisen her family and her recollections of the Czechoslovakia she knewand the one she was afraid of orman Eisman is a masterful writer His book while long was a pleasure to read I hope it s issued also in Audible Extensively researched this fascina. He remarkable people who had called this palace home Their story is Europe’s and The Last Palace chronicles the upheavals that have transformed the continent over the past century There was the optimistic Jewish financial baron Otto Petschek who build the palace after World War I as a statement of his faith in democracy only to have that faith shattered; Rudolf Toussaint the cultured compromised German general who occupied the palace during World War II ultimately putting his life at risk to save the house and Prague itself from destruction; Laurence Steinhardt the first postwar

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Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank Shirley Temple Black Child Star and DiplomatExcellent European history of Czechoslovakia during the last hundred ears through a great house built in 1923 in Prague I was very interested in the period of the 1960 s 1990 s when Shirley Temple Black was both visiting and then eventually became the US ambassador of Prague She was in Prague in the 1960 s when the Soviet s invaded the country and witnesses the violence of Prague Spring The house also had other owners all with interesting backstories the saddest being the Jewish Family The Petshecks who built the house Some Petsheck family members moved to safety in the US and lived to see the house become the headuarters and torture rooms of the Nazi Gestapo during WWII Highly recommend Four stars The book covers the 20th century history of Czechoslovakia now two countries through the life of what was most likely the last palace built in Europe The story begins with the Petschek family and ends with the author s taking up residence in their palacehome as the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic 2011 2014Otto Petschek was a dreamer with a passion for the arts He could indulge his passion with the family wealth which he augmented with his own gamble on coal after WWI The resulting palace housing his library and antiues bankrupted him only to be taken over by the Nazis After WWII US Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt enthralled with its beauty arranged US ownership of the property Under the US flag it survived communism the Prague Spring of 1958 and the Velvet Revolution of 1989 Eisen as US Ambassador notes the symmetry of hosting a Seder in this palace home built by the Petschek family Jews who fled it prior to WWII leaving behind their personal items as well as their stunning art and book collections The focus is often on people Otto Petschek and his family who built the house and fled it Rudolph Toussaint the Nazi overlord who inhabited the palace and appreciated its beauty Adolf Pokorny the palace manager who saved some palace valuables and Shirley Temple Black who was caught in the 1968 turmoil and returned as the US Ambassador There is a parallel story of a Jewish family in the village of Sobrance As the story goes on of how this family fared in the holocaust ou can surmise this family s connection to the palace and the authorNorman Eisen shows Neville Chamberlin s appeasement as a disaster for the fledgling Czech democracy and how at this point a show of strength inclusive of a US show of support could have stopped the Nazis at a critical time He notes that the west was silent again in what could have been a turning point in 1968 which he describes through the experience of Shirley Temple Black who was in Prague by happenstance There is a good description of the 1988 demonstrations but not the steps taken to show how they brought democracy While the text can be wordy and not all dots are connected this is the clearest presentation of modern Czech history I know of Iron Curtain The Fall of Eastern Europe 1944 1956 has excellent detail of the period of the communist take over Eisen gives an accessible overview of this time through the Nazi overlord s experience In Prague Winter Madeleine Albright gives a longer train of history and for the modern period gives insight based on her family s personal experienceThere are some photos but not enough to envision the places and events The index worked for all I looked up A map showing the Palace the Prague Castle and Wenceslas Suare would have been helpful As Norman Eisen mentions the Palace the Prague Castle and Wenceslas Suare would have been helpful As Norman Eisen mentions in the book Goethe referred to architecture as frozen music In a well written and personal narrative the author delves into the history of a building where he served as US ambassador to the Czech Republic that echoed the triumphs trauma and tragedies of political and social turmoil in the heart of Europe This book examines the history of the 20th century to the history of the 20th century to the day as it follows the building of a mansion in Prague by Otto Petschek the eldest child of a prominent Jewish family in the cultured Austro Hungarian empire Eisen notes that as a child 35 starsThere were a couple reasons I was interested in reading this book The first being I got to visit Prague a few ears ago and it got to visit Prague a few ears ago and it is a beautiful city Second back when my husband and I lived in Germany we loved going to see the different castles and palaces so I was intrigued by the description of this particular palace being perhaps the last one built in Europe Sadly I do not remember if I saw this one during my trip to Prague at most it would have only been a uick glance during our walking tourThe author a former ambassador to the Czech Republic under the Obama administration lived in the Petschek palace while working in Prague Otto Petschek a Jewish man whose family was among the richest in Czechoslovakia had the palace constructed in the 1920s much to the chagrin of family members After the family fled due to growing anti Semitism in the 1930s Rudolf Toussaint a top German officer occupied the palace and it became home to many meetings with Nazi leaders After the war the palace has been a home or meeting site for many US ambassadors including Shirley Temple BlackThe palace is certainly rich in history and although Otto Petschek died many ears ago I think he could at least appreciate the fact that if his descendants weren t living in the massive home he created at least it was occupied by the author who is Jewish and whose mother grew up in Czechoslovakia By far the parts of the book I was drawn to the most was the story of Otto and how the palace came to be and the author s mother who survived the concentration camps and later was forced to leave her homeland While the book was a good history lesson in what has taken place in Prague from the early 1900s to the current decade I just care in non fiction books the parts that focus on people rather than events This book had a fairly eual mix of both One slight criticism I have is I didn. A masterfully told and immersive narrative about the last hundred ears of European history as seen through an extraordinary mansion – and the lives of the people who called it home When Norman Eisen moved into the US ambassador’s residence in Prague returning to the land his mother had fled after the Holocaust he was startled to discover swastikas hidden beneath the furniture These symbols of Nazi Germany were remnants of the residence’s forgotten history and evidence that we never live far from the past From that discovery unspooled the twisting captivating tale of four of The Last Palace Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House