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.
From that discovery unspooled the captivating, twisting tale of the remarkable people who lived in the house before Eisen. Their story is Europe's, telling the dramatic and surprisingly cyclical tale of the endurance of liberal democracy: the optimistic Jewish financial baron who built the palace; the conflicted Nazi general who put his life at risk for the house during World War II; the first postwar US ambassador struggling to save both the palace and Prague from communist hands; the child star- turned-diplomat who fought to end totalitarianism; and Eisen's own mother, whose life demonstrates how those without power and privilege moved through history.
The Last Palace chronicles the upheavals that have transformed the continent over the past century and reveals how we never live far from the past.
Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 300 g
Dimensions: 198 x 130 x 32 mm
Combining both the personal and the historical, Norman Eisen's remarkable book transports us into the battle for democracy through the lives of people who fought to save it and those who would seek to destroy it. The Last Palace is not only a first-rate work of history, but a call to action written at a time of urgent need.
Norman Eisen has written an enthralling history of a palace and its very real ghosts. By telling the story of the Prague mansion where he resided as America's ambassador, Eisen provides a poignant reflection on the haunting twists of the past century, including his own very American family tale.
Eisen has written a pearl of a book. Using an ornate palace in Prague as the backdrop for his fast-paced narrative, Eisen tells the tale of the last stormy century through the eyes of several vibrant characters who helped shape it ... The Last Palace is a great read and a stirring reminder of the importance of decency in public life.
Moving, engaging, and elegantly written, The Last Palace wears its erudition lightly, casts its radiant intelligence fearlessly into the darkest corners of the twentieth century and, effortlessly, reliably, breaks your heart again and again.
As America's Ambassador in Prague, Norman Eisen had an extraordinary relationship with the Czech Republic and its history: his mother said the Nazis took her family out in boxcars and her son came back on Air Force One. The Last Palace combines human drama with geopolitical and historical sweep and does it with evident love and painstaking investigation.
Norman Eisen pulls back the curtains to reveal history's secrets in this rich, personal, and wise book.
What a revelation! With this moving memoir and history, Norman Eisen enters the front rank of writers. A truly riveting read.
Enchanting and fascinating, The Last Palace is a splendid journey through a century of modern European history, and a love letter to liberal democracy. From the adventures of an obsessive baron to the anti-Communist resistance of ambassador-actress Shirley Temple Black to his own tenure as Barack Obama's envoy to Prague, Norman Eisen brings the inhabitants of a storied residence, and their tumultuous times, to life.