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Petr Berka demonstrated in front of the guns of Soviet tanks as they entered Czechoslovakia - in his mother's womb. His childhood was like Happy Days and The Fonz: Very Cool, but at 18, to avoid fighting against Western Imperialism via compulsory military service, he found himself very unwell for years. Meantime, he studied biology and anthropology, his graduation thesis being "What do Brits and Germans think about Czechs?" He then began working as a city guide in Prague to explain to foreigners that his compatriots might not be as bad as they seem to be. Ales Palan's highest qualification is from driving school, having passed with distinction after only five attempts. Under the communist regime he used his creative forces to the full working as a navvy, acquiring the skills necessary to build a really impressive cottage. A writer and journalist, his books are based on interviews with prominent Czech personalities. In view of the fact that many of his subjects died during the writing of them, there is an extraordinary interest in his services. Every Czech publisher knows exactly who he should be interviewing next - ideally without delay. Should the reader have any tips, he is more than willing to consider them. Petr Stastny, an artist and translator (www.pstastny.eu), enrolled at art college in the expectation that nude models would be provided. His disillusionment wasn't helped by the Soviet invasion so he decided to do a runner. He put on some slippers and was off, running (and stumbling) from one continent to the next (an idea later copied by Tom Hanks). After a brief stop-over in Britain that extended to a couple of decades, he returned to Prague in the hope of getting a refund on his slippers. He is still waiting.
'Czech this out if you are headed for Prague. A tongue-in-cheek guide to the bewildering Czechs. As in the rest of the Xenophobe series, the authors provide information and insight into the national character in a humorous manner. This book is enjoyable and informative to read pre- or post- contact with Czechs. A young Czech read it and was mystified. "Everything in the book is normal," he said, "it's the Americans who are strange." -- Reviewer from Tucson, USA) 'A friend got this book for me to read before coming to the Czech Republic, and I read it on the plane ride here. This review is being written from the Czech Republic, and I have to say that most of the book is quite true - very few things are exaggerated. They really do have weekend cottages, they really do collect their own mushrooms, they seriously love their beer, etc.' -- Review from 'Pam' 'This was an excellent overview of the Czechs and gave me more insight into my two Czech students better. I began to read it while on a study trip with these two and their classmates from Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Mexico, and Kenya. It is a fun read and I will look up the Xenophobe's Guides to other societies in the future.' -- Review from 'Rebecca