The Hot Summer of 1968 by Viliam Klimáček (Author), Peter Petro (Translator)

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The Hot Summer of 1968 by Viliam Klimáček (Author), Peter Petro (Translator)
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

In 1968, the Czechoslovakian Communist Party introduced “socialism with a human face” — known as the Prague Spring, citizens of Czechoslovakia suddenly enjoyed new freedoms, among them, an uncensored press, an end to arbitrary wiretaps, and the right to travel without prior authorizations. However, the Soviet Union rejected these reforms and sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. Every citizen was faced with the choice to leave or stay. In celebrating the identity of a people, its folklore, its beauty, and its vitality, Viliam Klimáček — Slovakia’s foremost novelist and playwright —tells the story of ten people enmeshed in this difficult moment in history and reveals the dramatic impact of these events on his characters and the lives of their families.

This voyage back to 1968 during an exceptional event is eye-opening and sure to inspire a variety of emotions. Communists in Czechoslovakia decide to try something new and liberating. Refreshing freedoms are granted to the people. For example, now there is freedom of the press and freedom of travel.

The Hot Summer of 1968 is a brilliant novel featuring a handful of Czechoslovakian citizens who experience the Soviet invasion. Tanks and troops roll in, and freedoms vanish. Now, people must make the heart-breaking decision of whether to stay under the repressive regime or leave their homeland forever.

Here we meet interesting characters such as Petra, the young doctor, Tereza, a young Jewish woman, or Józef, a pastor, and their families. All of them have their own troubles and face these difficult times with strength, endearing them to readers. Readers will likely follow their stories, wondering about their fates. The danger is palpable.

The descriptions of the cities make it clear how these people lived. The experiences of these characters as immigrants and refugees paint a vivid picture and is enlightening. Eastern Europe comes to life in this touching novel. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical and vintage true stories.

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