|The book is an extensive account of the public debates and general interactions between politically engaged intellectuals during the period before the comunist takeover. The author attempts to answer the question of how was it possible for the Czechoslovak communists to acquire the national legitimization that allowed them to come to power mostly unchallenged. Bradley Adams traces the process by which the comunist party presented itself as both revolutionary (the necessary shake-up solution in the aftermath of the München Congress, of the collaborationism with the Nazis and of the desertion of the country by the Western powers) and patriotic. He shows how the project of a “Czechoslovak road to socialism” monopolized the public debate in the country after the end of the Second World War.
The volume is innovative because its main focus is to show how a communist party managed to gain state power by manipulation of both revolutionary ethos of the population and context of a need of national revival to compensate for the arguable failure of the pre-Second World War state. This approach comes in sharp contrast with the established view that communist takeovers in former Eastern Europe can only be explained in the context of Soviet “imperialism”. His working hypothesis is that the communists took advantage of a general consensus within Czechoslovak society for “the revision of the national character”. The fundamental conclusion of this book is that the communists were not just an imposed solution, but also succeeded in presenting themselves as a national solution, which allowed enough support or acquiescence in order for them to become unchallenged rulers in the country. In addition the author hints toward possible comparison with other countries in the region going through this similar historical phase.