Historian speaks at major international book fair

3 October 2018

Prof Mary Heimann

Ground-breaking book Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed to be published for first time in Czech

Professor of Modern History Mary Heimann is among the luminaries invited to give an author talk and reading at the international 28th Annual Book Fair in the Czech Republic.

The prestigious book fair is the Czech equivalent to the Hay-on-Wye festival.

Professor Heimann will read from her ground-breaking book Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed as the book is made available in Czech for the first time.

Published originally by Yale University Press, the landmark work has been influential in overturning some of the historical myths surrounding Czechoslovakia as a ‘victim’ country.

Explaining her approach to history, Professor Heimann said:

“The approach I take to the history of ideas is rather like that of an anthropologist. I treat the past as a series of foreign cultures whose mental outlooks, prejudices and assumptions are different from our own.

“Historical research is not a predictive science: it can’t tell us what the future holds. Researching the past can, nevertheless, help us to make sense of current problems by giving us an understanding of the background and complexities. Without historical analysis, we are liable to oversimplify.”

Learning lessons from this history enabled Professor Heimann to contribute policy recommendations for regional stability through NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 2015.

Earlier this year she organised the historic conference Czechoslovakia100 at the University to explore with diplomats, policymakers and analysts how lessons from history can help formulate policy for today’s changing world.

Chair of Modern History in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Professor Mary Heimann is an historian specialising in Czechoslovakia, Victorian Catholicism, and Christianity in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. She recently founded the Central and Eastern European Research Group and Czechoslovak Special Collection, both based at Cardiff University.

Professor Heimann appears at the 28th Czech Annual Book Fair on 6 October in Havlickuv Brod.