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The Power of the Powerless
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One of the most 'original and compelling pieces of political writing' to come out of the Soviet Union, published in Vintage Classics on its fortieth anniversary

About the Author

Vaclav Havel was born in Prague on 5 October 1936. The son of a movie producer, Havel first distinguished himself as a poet and playwright in Prague's burgeoning theatre world. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia saw Havel aiding the resistance for which he was later banned from theatre work. Living under Soviet occupation, and having to work as a brewer, Havel became increasingly politically active and was eventually imprisoned for three years following the publication of his 1979 essay, The Power of the Powerless. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Havel became President of Czechoslovakia and he was later elected the first President of the Czech Republic. Havel returned to the theatre after retiring from political life, writing two new plays before his death on 18 December 2011. (Author photograph copyright J. Jiroutek 2011)

Reviews

"Havel's diagnosis of political pathologies has a special resonance in the age of Trump" -- Pankaj Mishra
"Few voices did more to undermine the foundations of the Berlin Wall and the entire edifice of Soviet-imposed totalitarianism than this shy bourgeois, this sly, reticent, playwright and essayist" -- David Remnick * New Yorker *
"In gentle, ironic but scathing prose, Havel's The Power of the Powerless exposed the lies and cowardice that made possible the communist grip on power" * The Economist *
"In his now iconic 1978 essay, which circulated in underground editions in Czechoslovakia and was smuggled to other Warsaw Pact countries and to the West, Havel foresaw that the opposition could eventually prevail against the totalitarian state" * The New York Times *

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