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Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn
Genealogy Research Pages

Book of the Week

Matej's Legacy By Donald F. Chmelka

A Czech Family's Journey through the 20th Century

Just published December 2003.

Donald Chmelka is great-great-grandson of a Czech emigrant (Matej Chmelka) who homesteaded in Nebraska in 1871. Donald was born and grew up four miles from Matej's homestead, first attended a one-room country school and grew up in a Roman Catholic family living on a primitive farm with no electricity, telephone or indoor plumbing.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska, he worked as an engineer in the automotive and aerospace industries while living in various locations around the USA and traveling around the world.

In 1978 in began thinking of writing a book about immigrants to America. When he retired as president of a small aerospace company in Wichita, KS in 1997 and he began writing a book on the driving forces of American immigrants centered around the Chmelka family.

Hard cover

280 pages

Order a copy of Matej's Legacy By Donald F. Chmelka

A History of Slovak Literature
By Peter Petro

In spite of its richness and long history, Slovak literature is one of the least-known Slavic literatures in the English-speaking world.

Few translations of Slovak works exist and until now there has been no systematic English-language history of the field.

A History of Slovak Literature provides an excellent introduction to this important but overlooked body of writing. Like Czech, Polish, and Ukrainian writing, Slovak literature transcended the merely literary to become an influential political and cultural tool.

Slovak writers and poets played an important role in promoting and protecting the culture and language of their people against invading cultures.

Petro writes a concise history of Slovak literature, examining in turn the medieval, Renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, realist, and modern periods.

Authors examined include Hronsky, Hviezdoslav, Killar, and others; some authors are presented to English-speaking audiences for the first time

Read more about A History of Slovak Literature or order a copy.

Coasts of Bohemia
A History of Czech.

In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline - a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland.

Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered only in the margins of other people's stories.

In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theater of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc.

The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place.

Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West, and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored.

Read more about Coasts of Bohemia or order a copy.

The Best of Czech Cooking
by Peter Trnka.

The Best of Czech Cooking is an excellent introduction to the dishes that form the basis of Czech cuisine.

While meat dishes are most often the centerpiece of Czech meals, a variety of delicious soups, salads, dumplings, vegetables, and desserts are also popular, and all the recipes rely heavily on the subtle flavors of fresh quality ingredients - spices are used sparingly.

Although similar to the cuisines of Russia, Hungary, Slovalia, and Poland, Czech cooking is unique and distinguished primarily by its use of large savory dumplings which are sliced like bread before serving.

It is a cuisine at once practical and elegant. Dishes featuring locally available produce (especially parsnips, celeriac, carrots and potatoes) and those which make good use of meats and game (including organ meats) are combined to create mouthwatering, multicourse meals.

Thunder on the Mountain by Dave Poyer.

A fiery accident at a Pennsylvania oil refinery in 1935 inspires the workers at Thunder Oil Company to strike.

During a bitterly cold winter in the depths of the Depression, workers are desperate for decent food, better wages, warm housing, and fair treatment from management.

When a ruthless professional strikebreaker and a CIO organizer with thinly veiled Communist sympathies join the dispute, the strike escalates to betrayal, sabotage, and murder.

Poyer presents the story from many points of view, focusing on a young strike leader, the union organizer, the strikebreaker, and the oil company owner. No one is completely right, fair, honest, or loyal to his cause as the strike changes the lives of every person in the county.

The book Eight Centuries of Slovak Heraldry is interesting and a most valuable reference work,

Eternal Memory is a story of the life of a Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant to Pennsylvania.

In Search of Our Ancestors.

Carpatho-Rusyn author, Megan Smolenyak, is an international marketing consultant who's been researching her family history since the sixth grade. Smolenyak has appeared on Today with Jack Ford (a second cousin) and is the lead researcher for the new PBS series Ancestors: The Family Search. She has published twenty-five articles in business magazines and genealogical publications, and delivers seminars and workshops on genealogical subjects.

Based on the best stories collected for the new public television series, Ancestors: The Family Search, this book will appeal to the millions of Americans who want to know more about their origins.

101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History!

Shaking the family tree is one of our fastest growing leisure-time activities-over 100 million Americans have started their own genealogical research.

With over 100 true stories of the amazing luck, unexpected kindness, and unusual serendipity encountered by researchers as they track down their family records, In Search of Our Ancestors offers an inspirational look at the rewards of family history. It includes the stories of:

An American researcher who receives a trove of valuable family documents from an old man in Luxembourg trying to repay the debt he feels for American aid during World War II.

A family that travels to France to visit their newfound cousins and is overwhelmed by their generosity and their enthusiasm for recreating long-lost family ties.

A woman researching obscure records a county Historical Society who discovers that the great-grandfather of the clerk helping her had helped her grandfather-as a signer to his citizenship papers.

Great reading and a most interesting book.

A best selling book on Slovak-American culture at Barnes and Noble is Out of This Furnace. Written by Thomas Bell, it is the story of immigrants to America from Slovakia and a most interesting novel.

In a powerful novel that spans three generations of a Slovak family, Thomas Bell vividly tells the story of immigrants and their children who lived, toiled, and died in America's mill towns."--Journal of American Ethnic History

The book was first published in 1941 and has gone on to be a classic historic novel.

The book, Best of Slovak Cooking, was released November 1999.

Journeys into Czech-Moravian Texas
By Sean N. Gallup


Format: Hardcover, 1st ed., 148pp.
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Pub. Date: August 1998

With well-written, detailed text based on research and personal interviews and with sensitive, comprehensive photography, Gallup provides a fine portrait of today's Texans descended from Czech immigrants.

Texas-Czech culture remains strong in Texas, and the author tells how Texas-Czech customs and language survive despite the pressures from mainstream, modern American culture. He also describes Texas-Czech ethnic identity, organizations, relations with other ethnic groups, ties to the modern Czech Republic, and prospects for the future.

Czech, Moravian and Slovak Fairy Tales
Jan Matulka (Illustrator) Retold by Parker Fillmore

Everyone loves a "Story that Never Ends."..Such is the aptly titled last story in this authentic collection of Czech, Moravian and Slovak fairy tales, that will charm readers young and old alike.

Fifteen different classic, regional folk tales and 23 charming illustrations whisk the reader to places of romance, deception, royalty, and magic. "The Betrothal Gifts, " "Grandfather''s Eyes, " and "The Golden Spinning-Wheel" are a few examples of the enchanting stories that make this collection of fairy tales a beautiful addition to any library.

Young adults will appreciate and enjoy these stories as much as children! For anyone interested in the classic regional fairy tales of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, here is an ideal gift idea, a learning tool, and a unique perspective into the literature and culture of this region.

243 pages, hard cover. This makes a great gift.

An Ellis Island Christmas
This picture book portrait of a little girl's immigration to America from Europe provides an honest and child-like perspective. "Will touch memories across generations."--Booklist. "Authentic details plus Nolan's misty paintings capture the period with grace and care."--Kirkus Reviews. Full color.

A great children's gift.

Slovak Governor Jesse Ventura has a book out,
I Ain't Got Time to Bleed:.

The 208 pp hardcover book I Ain't Got Time to Bleed was published by Random House, Incorporated in June, 1999, and has soared onto the best-sellers list. It is very interesting reading.

From The Publisher:

And now that this body-slamming, straight-talking, charismatic hero is masterminding Minnesota's gubernatorial decisions, you'd better start calling him "Jesse, the Mind."

In I Ain't Got Time to Bleed, Jesse Ventura reveals the secret of his landslide electoral success--with record voter turnout--and maps his innovative strategies for pioneering a new era in American government. In his own inimitable words, he takes on bloated government, career politicians, and apathetic voters, and tells the wildly colorful story of his days as a navy SEAL, his nights in the pro-wrestling ring, and his experiences on radio and in films like Predator and Batman and Robin .

I Ain't Got Time to Bleed is Rocky meets Mr. Smith Goes to Washington--a book that will challenge readers' ideas of traditional government as it introduces them to one of American politics' most ferocious new heroes.

A new edition of The Czech and Slovak Republics by Michael Jacobs Zeifman was released May 1999. This edition contains 448 pages. The political complexion of the old Czechoslovakia has changed much since the first edition of this guide in 1992, and these changes are reflected in this revised and updated edition. The author tours through castles and spa towns, as well as old villages farther afield, and he covers all aspects of these fascinating country, including the glories of its art and architecture, but also its music, literature, and cinema.

The book, Texas Graveyards: A Cultural Legacy will be of intrest to all Czechs with Texas root.

Thinking about going professional, read the book Becoming an Accredited Genealogist: Plus 100 Tips to Ensure Your Success

If you only buy one book on Slovak history, this is the one we suggest. This was a book of the week feature last year and we are repeating it for everyone new to the site in the last year.

A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival
Stanislav J. Kirschbaum ISBN#: 0312161255
Publisher: Saint Martin's Press, Incorporated
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: May 1996

ORDER A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival

Synopsis

Slovakia's declaration of independence in January 1993 marked the reemergence of a state about which remarkably little is known.

Slovakia has struggled throughout most of its history to establish a separate identity, from the time of the Great Moravian Empire in which St. Cyril and St. Methodius initiated the Christianization of the Slavs, to its rule first by the Hungarians and then by the Czechs.

When the first Slovak Republic emerged in 1939, Europe was on the brink of war, a fact that has colored the world's attitude to her aspirations for statehood thereafter.

Professor Kirschbaum describes the history of the Slovak nation from its arrival on the Danubian Plain and the valleys of the Tatra Mountains to its declaration of independence in 1993. The topics he examines include: the Slovak nation's contributions to European civilization in the Middle Ages; the development of a specifically Slovak consciousness in the nineteenth century in response to Budapest's policy of Magyarization; its struggle for autonomy in the Czech-dominated Czechoslovakia created by the Treaty of Versailles; its efforts, as the Slovak Republic, to face the problems of a Nazi-controlled Europe; and its reaction to the Communist regime in the second half of the twentieth century.

The final chapter examines the debate about the future of Slovakia and the events that led to its independence after the fall of Communism in Central Europe.
 

Stanislav J. Kirschbaum had a new book released on October 1, 1998, Historical Dictionary of Slovakia.

A new book to teach you the Czech language was released on 02 February 1999. Colloquial Czech; The Complete Course for Beginners by James Naughton is published by Routledge.

We have expanded our Language Learning Tools section to include over 40 books, audio tapes, and study aides for the Czech and Slovak languages. You will find everything from travel aides to advance courses on the languages.

If you have been thinking of travel to Europe this summer, you can get a jump on learning the basics of the Czech and Slovak Languages.

The Czech and Slovak Question and Answer Forum has Bohemian Glass among the topics being discussed this week. Bohemia is known for its fine glass and the book is great.

Visit the Books about Rusyns section and Books on Travel in the Czech and Slovak Republic.

We have both Czech-English and Slovak-English Translation Dictionaries available, something every researcher should have.

Overseas Migration from East-Central & Southeastern Europe, 1880-1940 provides insite into the migration that many of your ancestors took part in.

We invite you to visit our Eastern European Cookbook Shop for a large selection of cookbooks with recipes from Eastern Europe.

We will have a new Book of the Week featured here every week, mostly at a discount from list price. The books we will be featuring are hard to find in many areas at any price!

Browse through our previous weeks of Book of the Month titles and watch for specials on the Bargain Book page. Never can tell what will turn up.

Turnip Blues is a new best-selling novel.

Sixteen Months of Indecision

Slovak American Viewpoints toward Compatriots and the Homeland from 1914 to 1915 as Viewed by the Slovak Language Press in Pennsylvania.

By Gregory Curtis Ference.

This study, based primarily on material found in the Pennsylvania Slovak language press, follows the activities of Slovaks in the United States just prior to and during the early months of World War I until October 1915.

Sixteen Months of Indecision begins with an overview of Slovak attempts in the Habsburg Empire to gain equal rights with the other nationalities, reasons for mass Slovak emigration, Slovak national life in America, and the formation of Czechoslovakia.

The next section focuses on the Panslavic and Anti-German/Austro-Hungarian attitudes of American Slovaks. This form of ethnic nationalism manifested itself in a support of the Allies, especially Russia, and the belief that one could not be a "good" Slovak by sympathizing with Germany and the Habsburg Monarchy.

At the outbreak of war, American Slovaks at first advocated Panslavic cooperative efforts to aid those Slavic populations ravaged by the conflict. As the war continued, emphasis changed to focus on assisting the Slovaks only.

Collections of goods and money were taken, and a representative was sent to Canada to help gain the release of Slovaks imprisoned as enemy aliens. Citing the Canadian example, Slovak American leaders urged their compatriots to become American citizens.

Last, the war caught the Slovaks in the United States by surprise. Their political program centered on gaining equal rights in Hungary through legal means, but a small group advocated instead a Czecho-Slovak solution.

Although the Czecho-Slovak concept gained momentum, many Slovaks feared that they would lose their ethnic identity. Cooperation initially did not occur in the United States.

When a Parisian organization of Czechs and Slovaks expressed its willingness to recognize the individuality of the Slovak people, the American Slovaks quickly supported it. An icy reception, however, by American Czechs destroyed any common ground.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon.

It is New York City in 1939.

Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague.

He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book.

Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist.

And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth.

As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.

False Dawn : My Life as a Gypsy Woman in Slovakia by Ilona Lackova.

The future of the Gypsies of the Czech and Slovak Republics does indeed look dark. But the indomitable spirit of Ilona Lackova is an inspiration for her fellow Roma.

Her life spans the century. One of the nine children born in a Gypsy settlement in Slovakia where they grew up, despised and mocked by the peasants on whom they depended for work, she was married early and at the outbreak of war was a mother herself.

Fear of the fascist Hlinka Guard who shaved the heads of Gypsy girls and sent the men to labour camps dominated their lives.

New opportunities came with the arrival of the Russians and the hope of a new life in a socialist society where all were equal. She wrote a play about life in a Gypsy settlement during the war and toured the country with a theatre company of family and friends.

Education and appointment as a party official gave her a chance to help her fellow Gypsies whose conditions were even worse than before the war. But the socialist state was a false dawn, the Roma were discouraged from using their own language, began to lose their self respect and were sometimes starving.

This is the fascinating story of a woman whose life has been an exercise in building bridges to span the chasm of misunderstanding between two worlds.

Romipen - Romani tradition, culture and language - has been the guiding force of her life, a source of strength and independence whatever the circumstances.

Here is the Slovak world as seen through the lucid and critical gaze of Gypsy eyes. Scathing irony gives the reader an insight into Romani social and cultural life, its joys and sorrows, festivals and crises, the troubles associated with finding a place to live, with work, with school, the Second World War and the politics of racism and rejection.

Bohemian Decorated Porcelain by James D. Henderson.

This new book is the first in English dedicated to describing and illustrating the vast array of decorative objects, household wares, and tableware.

It includes both the goods produced and decorated in Bohemia and those exported to America for decoration in the form of whiteware during the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Detailed descriptions of the production, exportation, and decoration methods utilized by the Karlovy Vary factories to produce this collectible porcelain make this book an invaluable reference for those who collect, deal, or have inherited pieces of this china.

Over 400 color photographs, as well as illustrated examples of the distinguishing factory marks, information on the factories' owners, and an up-to-date value guide make this book unique.

With the wide exportation of Bohemian porcelain to the United States and throughout the West, this book will be a welcome addition to the libraries of dealers, collectors, and everyone interested in the development of the art of fine porcelain.

A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia

A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia, drawn from previously untapped East European, Russian, and traditional sources, explores the life, history, and culture of the Gypsies, or Roma, from their early appearance in the region during the Middle Ages until the present.

David Crowe's study looks at the rich and diverse cultural and historical traditions of the Gypsies in each nation and region.

He covers Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, the republics of the former Yugoslavia, Albania, and the states that made up the former Soviet Union.

He focuses in particular on Russia, where the Gypsies have exerted a profound influence on literary and musical traditions.

Crowe also explores the virulent prejudice and mistreatment that has been so much a part of the Gypsies' tragic history and culminated in their losses during the Nazi Holocaust.

He concludes with a close look at the revival of this prejudice and the plight of the Roma today as they struggle to redefine their role in the new worlds of post-communist Eastern Europe and Russia.

Baubles, Buttons and Beads
The Heritage of Bohemia

For 500 years, the world's greatest makers of costume jewelry have hidden, anonymous, in the heart of Europe: Gablonz, Bohemia.

This groundbreaking, beautiful book exposes the jewels, craftsmanship, technological development, and history of Bohemia. Almost 400 gorgeous color photographs illustrate the area's artistry, its most significant designers and manufacturers and their contributions to the art of jewelry, button, and bead making. Bohemian glass dynasties lasted for centuries, until the middle of the 20th century, when the entire community of German-stock craftsmen was expelled from the area in the turbulence of World War II.

Though Gablonz will forever feel the loss of these great craftsmen, their artistry has been meticulously researched and documented by Sibylle Jargstorf for this book.

The End of Czechoslovakia
The Creation of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic

In The End of Czechoslovakia, scholars and practitioners from both sides of the divide, Czech and Slovak, as well as Western experts, take an in-depth look at the causes of Czechoslovakia's break-up, and seek to explain why a seemingly successful country should disintegrate so quickly after the collapse of the communist regime.

Besides exploring the political processes leading to the split, the authors analyse the underlying social, economic and cultural differences between the two nations and examine the historical roots of the problems.

Particular attention is paid to changing Czech and Slovak attitudes towards the common state and towards each other, from the heyday of the First Republic to the disillusionment of the post-1989 period.

On an international level, important lessons can be drawn from the failure of the Czechoslovak Federation. This multidisciplinary interpretation of the peaceful break-up of a state helps the reader to understand not only the deeper causes of the 'velvet divorce', but the phenomenon of contemporary nationalisms as a whole.

Czech Voices:
Stories from Texas in the Amerikan Narodni Kalendar

Although the personal stories told here began in Europe, all ten recount a history of Texas as seen by one of the state's largest immigrant ethnic groups.

The narratives, originally printed in the midwestern Czech language journal Amerikan narodni kalendar, tell the story of the immigrants as they arrived in the mid-nineteenth century and provide a picture of this culture that goes beyond the kolache pastries and polka dancing popularly associated with Czech Americans.

Among the writers are important leaders, adventurers, journalists, and typical farmers. Their impressions of the immigrants' hard daily lives, religious conflicts, the American Civil War, and their own identity bring to life an era that other sources rarely reveal.

Clinton Machann and James W. Mendl, Jr., who have selected and translated these stories, provide an interpretive introduction, informative notes, and a bibliography that help to place the life stories in their historical and cultural context.

Before Czech Voices' hardcover release in 1991, these narratives had never before been generally available. The importance of and pleasure in reading primary sources like these was apparent in the book's initial reception.

Checkmate in the Carpathians

This is the third book in the "Passport to Danger Series." published in 2000 by Bethany House Publishers for young readers ages 12 and up. Great Winter reading at a bargain price.

A skiing trip to Romania with the new American ambassador becomes more exciting than they had planned when Constantine Kaye and his friend Helen visit the estate of Con's elderly Viennese neighbor and become involved in a rally of neo-Nazis in Romania.

Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a Russian Village
by Serge Schmemann

Format: Paperback, 368pp.
Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
Pub. Date: March 1999

This book is was just released last year and had climbed to the top ten sellers for the genealogy category.

Synopsis:

Drawing on family and state archives and on conversations with aged villagers, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author recreates the vanished world of his forebears, a local tsarist gentry who had been expelled from their Russian home by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Photos & illustrations. 2 maps.

A memoir built from family archives recalling a once-beautiful area in Russia, ultimately warped by Communism.

From The Publisher:

Tracing the lives of his Russian forebears, Serge Schmemann, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times tells a remarkable story that spans the past two hundred years of Russian history.

First, he draws on a family archive rich in pictorial as well as documentary treasure to bring us into the pre-revolutionary life of the village of Sergiyevskoye (now called Koltsovo), where the spacious estate of his mother's family was the seat of a manor house as vast and imposing as a grand hotel. Diary entries record the social breakdown step by step: grievances going unresolved, the government foundering, the status quo of rural life overcome by revolutionary fervor.

Soon we see the estate brutally collectivized, the church torn apart brick by brick, the manor house burned to the ground. Some of the family are killed in the fighting; others escape into exile; one writes to his kin for the last time from the Gulag. The Soviet era is experienced as a time of privation, suffering, and lost illusions. The Nazi occupation inspires valorous resistance, but at great cost. Eventually all that remains of Sergiyevskoye is an impoverished collective. Without idealizing the tsarist past or wholly damning the regime that followed, Schmemann searches for a lost heritage as he shows how Communism thwarted aspiration and initiative.

Above all, however, his book provides for us a deeply felt evocation of the long-ago life of a corner of Russia that is even now movingly beautiful despite the ravages of history and time.

Prague in Black & Gold: Scenes from the Life of a European City
by Peter Demetz

Format: Paperback, 432pp.
Publisher: Hill & Wan
Pub. Date: April 1998

This book is a Reader's Catalog selection among the 40,000 best books in print.

Reviews and Commentary
"Demetz is not an academic imprisoned by his discipline....Prague-born of a Czech-speaking Jewish mother and an Austrian Christian father, he seems to revel in the multifariousness of his native ground...[and] gives the flowering of that diversity its full due"--LA Times Book Review

Ravenstein Road Atlases
Ravenstein Road Atlases: Eastern Europe Atlas
Atlas 1:750000
Format: Paperback, 128pp
Publisher: Seven Hill
Pub. Date: April 1994

Where She Came From:
A Daughter's Search for Her Mother's History
by Helen Epstein

Reviews and Commentary From The Publisher:

In the tradition of "Wild Swans", this rich and compelling family saga by the author of "Children of the Holocaust" brings to life three generations of Czech-Jewish women--from the 19th century to the Holocaust and beyond.

Where She Came From is a memoir in the form of a quest for personal and historical understanding -- a multi-generational saga with the sweep and emotional impact of a novel.

After the death of her mother, Frances, in 1989, Helen Epstein set out to research and reconstruct the life of her mother and that of her grandmother and great-grandmother. Like so many children of Holocaust survivors and other people displaced by the catastrophes of the 20th century, she had few family documents, only stories.

She traveled to Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Israel, searching out people who had known her family and locating material in libraries and archives on three continents. Using three decades of journalistic training, and working like an archaeologist with shards of data, she pieced together an account of the lives of the women in her family and the social history of Central European Jews.

Immigrant Church and Community;
Pittsburgh's Slovak Catholics and Lutherans, 1880-1915
By June Granatir Alexander
Format: Hardcover, 198pp.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Pub. Date: August 1990

V.H. Rabe - Choice:
Documented from a broad range of Slovak- and English-language sources, this careful analysis of church organization in a Slovak community (numbering some 5,000 in 1915) can provide only limited insight into the role played by such religious institutions elsewhere, or among other contemporary immigrant groups. Upper-division undergraduates and above.

Edward R. Kantowicz - The American Historical Review
The author is well versed in the recent historiography of immigration and ethnicity, particularly the work of John Bodnar and his colleagues, and she performs the obligatory ritual of rejecting Oscar Handlin's interpretations in The Uprooted {BRD 1951, 1952, 1974}. Yet she has few ideological axes to grind and generally follows her data wherever they lead. Perhaps her most interesting finding is that Slovak Lutherans experienced greater difficulties with rigid church authorities than Slovak Catholics did. This book is the best microanalysis of immigrant church communities since Jay P. Dolan's The Immigrant Church {BRD 1976}. Whereas Dolan analyzed two different nationalities, the Irish and the Germans, within one denomination, Alexander examines two denominations within one nationality. Her book deserves respect.

William Wolkovich-Valkavicius - The Journal of American History:
Alexander backs her assertions persuasively. Enjoying the advantage of reading the original language, she has quarried a striking array of sources in Czechoslovakia as well as here. Though Roman Catholic parishes have been notoriously lax in preserving documents, the author was fortunate to find records such as cashbooks and sacramental registers showing village origins of brides and grooms, parents and godparents. These she has deftly incorporated into her findings. Most welcome too is her judicious use of oral testimony. Absent is any mention of the socialists or freethinkers found among Poles and Lithuanians. . . . Likewise, one would welcome more data on the pioneer clergy, besides learning that they were either pro-Hungarian or nationalists. . . . In any case, this work is a model of scrupulous scholarship.

That Alluring Land: Slovak Stories by Timrava

N. Rudinsky, Norma Rudinsky

Format: Paperback, 324pp.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Pub. Date: July 1992

From Library Journal:

The short stories and novella in this collection were written between 1896 and 1918 by Bozena Slancikova, a major Slovak writer who published under the pen name Timrava.

The first two stories are trite romances, but the third, ``That Alluring Land,'' is a transitional story in which women begin to emerge as independent individuals. The author firmly establishes her capacity for creating strong female characters in ``No Joy at All'' and ``Great War Heroes.''

Local settings are not vividly described, plots are minimal, and women merely react to situations over which they have little control, bound as they are to society's mores and waves of historical events.

Yet all this can be forgiven because the author's stripped-down, straightforward style enables readers to observe clearly and unemotionally the rarely described struggle of independent Eastern European women.

From Peter Z. Schubert - World Literature Today:

In her introduction the translator Norma Rudinsky makes obvious her patriotism and enthusiasm for Timrava, both of which may raise the reader's anticipation and interest.

Given the limitations of Slovak literary history, the superlatives used to describe the author could well be justified.

Rudinsky's claim, however, that Timrava's depiction of the Slovak village is a typical picture of Central Europe of the time might be more difficult to accept....

The collection comprises a representative cross section of {Timrava's} work. All the stories depict life in a poor Slovak village; only the situations change....

Although the rendition of the colloquial quality of the language of the original may be lacking, {and} although it is not clear why the translator refers to her work as 'a study,' . . . the book provides compelling reading for anyone interested in Slavic (Slovak) literature or rural life in Eastern Europe.

From Hilda Scott - Women's Review of Books:

The cool irony with which Timrava views her heroines' predicaments, the detachment with which she lets them experience their powerlessness, lift her work above the popular 'women's literature' of the time.

Some of her contemporaries accused her of coldly copying life and lacking art. A more recent critichas credited her with 'defolklorizing' the village novel, and this is what makes her readable today. . . .

Reading this collection is like stumbling on an unknown talent in yellowed magazines in someone's attic. Timrava has not just talent but relevance for our own times. . . . Rudinsky might well have used her introduction to place Timrava in {a} wider context. Doing so would have increased the value of the book for the growing number of women eager to understand what has brought their Eastern European counterparts to where they are today--at the beginning of a new transition period, in need of new Timravas.

A new book was just released in October.

Germany's First Ally: Armed Forces of the Slovak State, 1939-1945
by Charles K. Kliment and Bretislav Nakladal

Format:  Hardcover, 208pp.
Publisher:  Schiffer Publishing, Limited
Pub. Date:  October 1998

The best selling book on the Czech Republic this month is Eyewitness Prague by Vladimir Soukup and Deni Bown

It's easy to plan a thorough itinerary through the magnificent city of Prague when you have this unique resource at your fingertips. Street-by-street maps, suggested walking tours, and comprehensive dining, hotel, and entertainment sections are just a few of the features travelers enjoy in this vibrantly illustrated guide--featuring more than 1,500 color photographs and illustrations.

This week we feature Classic Paperdolls of the former U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

Shirley Temple Black was the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia in the late 1980's. Her paper dolls make a great Christmas present for the kids or grandkids with an old country twist.

Sixteen Months of Indecision;
Slovak American Viewpoints toward Compatriots and the Homeland from 1914 to 1915 as Viewed by the Slovak Language Press in Pennsylvania
Author: Gregory Curtis Ference
Publisher: Susquehanna University Press
Pub. Date: January 1995
Format:  Hardcover, 261pp.

From The Publisher:

This study, based primarily on material found in the Pennsylvania Slovak language press, follows the activities of Slovaks in the United States just prior to and during the early months of World War I until October 1915.

Sixteen Months of Indecision begins with an overview of Slovak attempts in the Habsburg Empire to gain equal rights with the other nationalities, reasons for mass Slovak emigration, Slovak national life in America, and the formation of Czechoslovakia.

The next section focuses on the Panslavic and Anti-German/Austro-Hungarian attitudes of American Slovaks. This form of ethnic nationalism manifested itself in a support of the Allies, especially Russia, and the belief that one could not be a "good" Slovak by sympathizing with Germany and the Habsburg Monarchy.

At the outbreak of war, American Slovaks at first advocated Panslavic cooperative efforts to aid those Slavic populations ravaged by the conflict. As the war continued, emphasis changed to focus on assisting the Slovaks only.

Collections of goods and money were taken, and a representative was sent to Canada to help gain the release of Slovaks imprisoned as enemy aliens. Citing the Canadian example, Slovak American leaders urged their compatriots to become American citizens.

Last, the war caught the Slovaks in the United States by surprise. Their political program centered on gaining equal rights in Hungary through legal means, but a small group advocated instead a Czecho-Slovak solution.

Although the Czecho-Slovak concept gained momentum, many Slovaks feared that they would lose their ethnic identity. Cooperation initially did not occur in the United States. When a Parisian organization of Czechs and Slovaks expressed its willingness to recognize the individuality of the Slovak people, the American Slovaks quickly supported it.

An icy reception, however, by American Czechs destroyed any common ground. American Slovaks eventually decided to cooperate with American Czechs.

Title: Vaclav Havel and the Velvet Revolution
Author: Jeffrey Symynkywicz
Format:  Paperback

Vaclav Havel is visiting Washington D.C. this week. This book provides information on him and the Velvet Revolution that created the Czech and Slovak Republics.

The book is suggested for readers age 10 and up.

From the Publisher:

The Rusyns are East Slavs living in Europe on the border between East and West. In the present study, Keith P. Dyrud portrays the Rusyns as a people in search of identity.

Until the sixteenth century, the Rusyns were Eastern Orthodox Christians, but in the 1500s they came under the jurisdiction of Poland and Austria-Hungary. With this new jurisdiction came a new religion, as they were united with Catholic Christianity.

Divided by the Carpathian mountain range, the Subcarpathian Rusyns were influenced by Hungarian and Slovak culture, while those in Galicia (on the north side of the Carpathians) were influenced by Polish and Ukrainian cultures.

The development of nationalistic movements in Eastern Europe and the migration of many Rusyns to the United States were critical experiences in the evolution of the Rusyns' ethnic cultural awareness.

After the revolutions of 1848, the Rusyn intellectuals became intensely interested in their national and cultural identity. Those in Galicia could choose from among a Polish, Russian, or emerging Ukrainian identity, while the Rusyns in Subcarpathia were pressured to adopt a Magyar (Hungarian) identity.

In the 1850s and 1860s, many Rusyn intellectuals turned to Russia for a literary language and a cultural identity. The Subcarpathian and Galician Russians, however, were unable to establish a common cultural identity beyond a flirtation with Russian culture.

In Galicia at the turn of the century, the Ukrainian movement became a popular movement, but this movement was never accepted among the Subcarpathian Rusyns.

The Subcarpathians searched for an identity compatible with their experience, but such an identity did not emerge until after the First World War.

Frustrated by the Latin bishops, the early Rusyn immigrants to America rediscovered Orthodoxy and became candidates for conversion to Russian Orthodoxy and thus a focus for the reemergence of Pan-Slavism. Conversion to Orthodoxy meant adopting the Russian cultural identity.

      Year of the Frog

      Martin M. Simecka   Peter Petro (Translator)

      Format: Paperback, 256pp.
      Publisher: Simon & Schuster Trade
      Pub. Date: May 1996

A Reader's Catalog Recommendation

Set in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in the 1980s, Martin Simecka's stunning first novel, The Year of the Frog, portrays a young man struggling to come to terms with his circumstances in the last days of communist dictatorship. Milan, the son of a former party official now imprisoned for dissident activities, is barred from the university despite the fact that he is a brilliant student and an extraordinary runner. Forced to work, Milan takes a series of menial jobs -- first as a surgical orderly in a hospital, next as a clerk in an under-stocked hardware store, lastly as an assistant in a maternity hospital for both births and abortions -- all of which serve to break open his life.

Two great passions save him from the bleakness of his everyday existence: long-distance running, and his love for Tania, a beautiful university student from whom he seeks salvation and ultimately marries. The Year of the Frog is a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a novel which poses important questions about life and death, about love and freedom, faithfulness and infidelity.

Expert Commentary

From J.W. Jeffries - Choice:
{The author's} clearly written study is informed by the relevant scholarly literature (including the author's own significant work on Slovak culture) . . . . Although some specialists in ethnic history will find the book a useful one, Growing Up on the South Side is, as Stolarik intends, 'a history primarily for the Slovaks of Bethlehem, secondarily for the general public, and only incidentally for fellow academics.' Copyright 1983 The H.W. Wilson Company. All rights reserved.

From Matthew S. Magda - The Journal of American History:
Stolarik's work would have benefited from the inclusion of much more oral-history material. . . . Also, the author's examinations of work and community activities could have been improved by applying some of the perspective on family and work life that John Bodnar has developed in his various studies of the immigrant-ethnic experience. Those comments aside, {this} is a valuable addition to the historical literature on Slovaks in the United States. Copyright 1983 The H.W. Wilson Company. All rights reserved.

They Came in Ships:
A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Records

by John Philip Colletta

      Format: Paperback, 108pp.
      Publisher: Ancestry
      Pub. Date: February 1997

From Library Journal:

Colletta's work, revised since it was first published in 1989, provides a helpful discussion of biographical and genealogical information and other migration details that may be found in passenger lists. Four information-filled chapters provide help on acquiring the information needed to search for passenger lists. The annotated bibliography is excellent, though the book still lacks an index. Researchers in the ship passenger list and immigration field should read this book, along with Michael H. Tepper's American Passenger Arrival Records: A Guide to the Records of Immigrants Arriving at American Ports (Genealogical Pubs., 1988). Essential.-- Judith P. Reid, Lib. of Congress

Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, an atlas that covers all of East Central Europe, from the early fifth century through 1992.

Vol. 1 by Paul Robert Magocsi and Geoffrey J. Matthews (Illustrator)
Format:  Paperback, 232pp.

From The Publisher:

For the first time in any language, here is an atlas that covers all of East Central Europe, from the early fifth century through 1992. The atlas encompasses the countries of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece. Also included are the eastern part of Germany (historic Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Prussia, Saxony, and Lusatia), Bavaria, Austria, northeastern Italy (historic Venetia), the lands of historic Poland-Lithuania (present-day Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine up to the Dnieper River), Moldova, and western Turkey.

From Booklist:

Much in the news recently for radical political and social changes, East Central Europe has known tumult and change for centuries.

The stasis the Cold War brought to borders and political systems was an uncharacteristic period of calm. This atlas, the keystone volume in an ongoing 10-volume scholarly history of the region, charts and summarizes changes from the fifth century through 1992 For the purposes of this atlas, the limits of East Central Europe have been defined as "toward the west, the eastern part of Germany (historic Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Prussia, Saxony, and Lusatia), Bavaria, Austria, and northeastern Italy (historic Venetia), and toward the east, the lands of historic Poland-Lithuania (present-day Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine up to the Dnieper River), Moldova, and western Anatolia in Turkey."

Nothing is simple in this region, including place-names. As postwar treaties have moved borders back and forth, and as kingdoms, empires, and republics have risen and fallen, place-names have changed depending upon which group held power at a given time. The editors have settled on the principle of using the same name for a town or city on every map regardless of usage at the time depicted on the map or latter-day revisionist desires. The name used is based on present-day political boundaries.

This is supplemented by providing "in parentheses below the main entry, as many alternate historical names as space would allow. The 89 color maps are arranged in chronological order. Scales vary, but most maps show East Central Europe whole or a substantial portion of it.

Legends appropriate to each map are clearly labeled, as are the maps themselves. Substantial interpretive text--a full page or more--accompanies each map.

The text enjoys the same clarity as the map it explains. Useful tables (e.g., dates various states declared war on each other from 1914 to 1917, the ethnolinguistic-national composition of Yugoslavia) are imbedded in the text. In addition to showing the state of the entire region at key points in its history, the maps depict religious trends, wars, migrations, population levels, economic developments, and individual countries.

Sources for each map are listed in an appendix. They are cited by a section letter and author's name, which refer to items in the extensive four-part bibliography that follows All of this information is accessible through a detailed table of contents and a thorough index that cites places, peoples, events, and topics and differentiates between references to text and maps. Bracketed abbreviations follow many place-names in the index to indicate which of 26 languages they derive from No comparable source in English exists.

Adams's "Atlas of Russian and East European History" (Praeger, 1966) focuses on Russia. Furthermore, it necessarily misses recent developments, and its black-and-white maps are rudimentary in comparison. The "Historical Atlas of East Central Europe" is, of course, indispensable in libraries that have been collecting the other volumes in the History of East Central Europe series, and it will be a worthy addition to other libraries, especially since interest in this volatile region has expanded well beyond academe.

New Book being released 01 August 1998

Crossing Borders: Contemporary Czech and Slovak Photography, Vol. 152
Aperture Publishing

This book was published on August 1, 1998

Order Crossing Borders Aperture 152

Title: Czech and Slovak Republics Guide

Author:  Ted Brewer
Format:  Paperback

With detailed reviews of more than 450 hotels and restaurants in over 125 cities, towns, and villages--including many undiscovered gems outside Prague--this thorough guide to the Czech and Slovak Republics provides an essential introduction to one of the fastest growing travel destinations in Europe. 10 photos. 12 maps.

Title:   Slovakia the Heart of Europe

Author: Olga Drobna, Eduard Drobny, Magdalena Gocnikova, Miroslav Regitko (Illustrator), Martin C. Styan (Translator), Zuzana Paulikova (Translator)

Publisher: Bolchazy-Carducci

Date Published: July 1996

Format:  Library Binding

A very interesting background book on the country now known as the Slovak Republic. Should be a required book in the library of anyone with ancestors from the Slovak Republic or planning travel there. Ideal for grade school children and grandchildren. A colorful depiction of the Slovak people and nation. The 40 color pages include landscape, art, architecture, songs, celebrations, cites, statesmen, and past and present aspirations.

This book is also available in a Slovak edition, Slovensko Moje, directly from Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

Round-Trip to America: The Immmigrants Return to Europe, 1880-1930 treats the topic of immigrant return, both from the perspective of the immigrant and of the European governments. Mark Wyman quotes stats from the Secretary of Labor showing that between 1908-23, 57% of the Slovaks and 40% of Poles immigrated - back to Europe from America.

This is the book currently being discussed in the Question and Answer Forum here.

Czech & Slovak Republics

Czech & Slovak Republics was writtem by Scott McNeely and Richard Nebeksy and is in its second printing. This new edition was released March 1998.

This paperback is loaded with 520 pages of information on the Czech and Slovak Republics.

My grandfather, Josef Stanislav, was one of the few Rusyn immigrants from Slovakia at the turn of the century who kept a journal from the time of his arrival in America. He recorded his jobs, pay records, important family events, and information how everyone was related.

Much of this information may not have seemed important at the time, but before he died in 1975 he gave the journal and family records to me in case anyone ever wanted to know.

The journal is now priceless as a historical record of the life of a Rusyn immigrant from the turn of the century through the mid-70's.

How many times have you been frustrated by dead ends and missing information and wished that some would have written down what must have been common knowledge to their generation, after all, everyone knew what village the family came from, why write it down.

Start your journal today.

Welcome to the Book of the Week page at It's All Relative's Czech and Slovak Bookstore where we've teamed up with Barnes and Noble to offer many of the best and most popular books on the Czech and Slovak Republic and genealogy at up to 40 percent off every day.

We will have a new Book of the Week featured here every Thursday, all at a discount from list price. The books we will be featuring are hard to find in many areas at any price!

We have both Czech-English and Slovak-English Translation Dictionaries available, something every researcher should have.

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