Historians have long claimed Czechoslovakia between the world wars as an island of democracy in a sea of dictatorships. The reasons for the survival of democratic institutions in the Czechoslovak First Republic, with its profound divisions, have never been fully explained, partly because for years critical research was thwarted by the communist state. Drawing on information from European archives, Miller pieces together the story of the party and its longtime leader, Antonín Svehla- the “Master of Compromise,” who had an extraordinary capacity to mediate between political parties, factions, and individual political leaders. Miller shows how Svehla’s official and behind-the-scenes activities in the parliament provided the new state with stability and continuity.
Miller's carefully detailed study is an important contribution to the history of this period. The text and carefully chosen illustrations provide a much-needed treatment of the biography and career of Svehla, whose accomplishments are now put in proper perspective.
...this is an excellent biography. The difficulties of research have been overcome; it is well written, free of jargon, and a pleasure to read. It also has the merit of placing Czechoslovak agrarian politics in a comparative framework so as to point out clearly the differences with similar Croation, Bulgarian, and Polish parites of the same period. Above all the book succeeds in giving a clear portrait, both personal and political, of this elusive, sympathetic and remarkable figure of interwar Czechoslovakia. "
Daniel E. Miller is an associate professor of history at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, where he has taught since 1990. He is the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchanges Board, and the Hoover Institution. His articles on Slovak and Czech history have appeared in journals and as chapters in The Czech and Slovak Experience, The Economic Future of Central Europe, and Private Agriculture in Eastern Europe: Prospects for the 1990s and the Lessons of Prewar Cooperatives and Land Reforms.learn more