In this book, Matej Spurny explores the historical city of Most from the nineteenth century into the years following World War II, investigating the decision to destroy it as well as the negotiations concerning the spirit of the proposed new city. Situating postwar Most in the context of cultural and social shifts in Czechoslovakia and Europe as a whole, Spurny traces the path a medieval city took to become a showcase of brutalist architecture and the regime's technicist inhumanity.
But the book, like the city of Most itself, does not end in tragedy. Fusing architectural and political history with urban and environmental studies, Spurny's tale shows the progress that can be made when Czechs confront the crimes of the past--including the expulsion of local Germans and the treatment of the Romani minority--and engage with rational, contemporary European concepts of urban renewal.
Publisher: Karolinum,Nakladatelstvi Univerzity Karlovy,Czech Republic
Number of pages: 330
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 188 x 147 x 33 mm
"A beautifully written book crucial to understanding a tragic chapter in our recent cultural history."--Jakub Bachtik, editor in chief of the Architectural Heritage Report (Zpravy pamatkove pece)
"Spurny's work offers one of the most sophisticated contributions to the study of normalization in Czechoslovakia, especially since he examines the entire Communist experiment in the broader context of the postwar mindset, encompassing Western democracies as well."--Eva Klicova "Respekt "
"The crux of Spurny's work is a search for the source of legitimacy for the complete destruction, physically and culturally, of a city that had been an important regional center since the thirteenth century. The author makes it clear that he considers the act brutal and barbaric, but he is not content to simply leave the readers angry and disgusted by the perpetrators of the city's destruction. The world of socialism and communism was driven by the belief that technological progress would liberate and improve the lives of everyone, even if the price was destruction--both aesthetic and environmental. Such a paradox continues today with the failure of neoliberalism and worsening global warming. The book concludes with an elegy for modernity, whose utopia was realized technologically, but failed socially. The collapse of Czechoslovak communism is a sobering reminder that the modern world was built upon irreparable destruction. The future is Most empty."--Milena Bartlova "www.a2alarm.cz "
"Spurny's book on the town of Most is fascinating reading. Spurny explores the common European ground of urban utopia in the early twentieth century and the socialist path to realizing it. In doing so, he contributes to the understanding of both the decline of socialism and the general change in values that has taken place in the East and West since the 1960s."--Christiane Brenner, Collegium Carolinum-Research Institute for the History of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
"This is the remarkable story of a venerable town destroyed to dig a coal pit, and of a new town that was supposed to be better than the old one. Spurny effectively combines urban, environmental, and technological history in a wide-ranging exploration of a belief in progress and its fading power. Not the least of his achievements is to place socialist Czechoslovakia at the center of an international crisis of modernity."--Brian Ladd, University at Albany, SUNY, author of "The Ghosts of Berlin"
"This fascinating micro-study of the destruction and reconstruction of the north Bohemian mining town of Most serves as a far wider analysis of the contradictory and convulsive socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental modernization of communist Czechoslovakia through to post-1989 developments. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the contemporary history of Eastern Europe."--Kevin McDermott, Sheffield Hallam University, author of "Communist Czechoslovakia, 1945-1989: A Political and Social History"
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