Notes from Underground by Roger Scruton; Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia by Mariusz Szczygieł (Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) - review by Allan Massie

Allan Massie

Prague Calling

Notes from Underground


Beaufort Books 244pp £14.72

Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia


Melville House 276pp £18.99

Europe has no centre. If you had to choose one, it might as well be Prague as anywhere else. Geographically, it is central. Historically, it was there that the terrible Thirty Years War began, there that the Nazi invasion six months after the Munich Agreement made the Second World War all but inevitable, there too that the so-called Prague Spring of 1968 set in motion the slow crumbling of the Soviet Empire, as faith in Communism seeped away.

Czechoslovakia no longer exists, Czechs and Slovaks now having their own republics, and indeed its history as an independent state was brief. Prague used to be the capital of Bohemia, a kingdom that became hereditary in the Habsburg family and therefore part of the Holy Roman Empire. Earlier in the

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