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Review of Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century (The Enlightened Economist)

Press clipping: Research

Publication date19/12/13

Diane Coyle reviews Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century, on her blog The Enlightened Economist.

"I’ve very much enjoyed reading Derek Sayer’s Prague: Capital of the Twentieth Century this past week. It’s a cultural history focused on the unsung Czech role in creating modernity. Sayer makes much of the similarity of things now thought of as opposites. For example, both the USA and the USSR signified the modern in the 1920s, both skyscrapers and socialist realism. A flâneur or radical artist could lean either to the left or the right, be a rebel or a secret policeman.

The surrealists are at the heart of the cultural story told in this book, and the Prague-Paris axis. I confess that surrealism doesn’t do anything for me, and the illustrations here look just enormously dated. As this is an academic book there are also too many long lists of Czech artists with unpronounceable names for the general reader. One can easily lose sight of the wood, while enjoyably wandering around the trees. Still, this is a fascinating, forgotten, cultural history".


Original titleLifting the Iron Curtain of the Mind
AuthorDiane Coyle
MediumThe Enlightened Economist