Millions of visitors descend on Prague each year, drawn by its rich cultural heritage and visual splendour, yet knowing little of its extraordinary past. In this erudite, paradoxical history Peter Demetz dispels the popular sentimental image of his hometown, weaving together the rich cultural traditions of the Czech, Jewish, German and Italian communities with key events in Prague's history. He tells the story of this great city from its origins through the devastation of the Thirty Years' War, the elegant era of Mozart and Dvorak and the bleak, modern city depicted in Kafka's work, to the euphoria of the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The result is a unique and masterly historical account of one of Europe's most alluring cities.
Peter Demetz is Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at Yale Universiry. He grew up in Prague but fled Czechoslovakia in 1949, settling in the United States. "The author is a master of digressions, a brilliant raconteur whom we follow gladly on his intellectual rambles ... As a guide in these treacherous waters, he inspires total trust" Spectator