A Czech-American reader's review of Bus to Bohemia by Posh Parker:-
Hi Mr Parker, I recently finished reading your book, and I have to say it was very enjoyable, and it did bring out some different emotions. Let me give you some of my background - so this will help put into perspective my reaction to your book.
I was born in the Czech Republic in 1945, in 1948 my father being a staunch anti communist, was given about 12 hours warning that after the takeover he as going directly to Siberia, so we left in the middle of the night and spent 18 months in various prisons and DP camps in Germany, we arrived in the US in August of 1949, when I was 4 years old.
So, all my schooling was in the US, so I am an American, who just happened to be born in the Czech Republic. I do speak the language fluently, and have gone back there with tour groups at least 50 times.
My parents being very nationalistic, taught me to be proud of my heritage, which I am. As you know from your own experiences - the Czechs have some very endearing qualities, and some disappointing qualities.
I felt a little "crushed" when I read the last chapter. And I thought to myself - why? Here is a non Czech giving up on the country because of his frustrations with the Czech people. This is not to say you did anything wrong, what you really did was see the truth of the Czech people (of course not all of them) . Their petty jealousies and their hang ups with money and social status. I overcame my disappointment with the last chapter after I gave it more thought. I realized sometimes it hurts to hear the truth. I totally agree that the Czech's lost two generations to the communist mentality -- the whats in it for me -- how can I cheat the system -- why should I do any more than I have to, etc..... we can go on with more negative traits that were ingrained during communism.
I have been involved with the Czech community here in Chicago for many years. My perceptions on the Czechs are: the 2nd and 3rd generations are the most loyal their Czech heritage (they don't know better?)
The immigrants from 1945 to 1955, are solid hard working and loyal --- but don't always get along with other Czech organizations (petty jealousies are already showing up), the 1968 crowd I can't put a handle yet, the 1980 to 1989 crown has no interest whatsever to get involved with local Czech organizations. The post 1990 crowds are here - but they assimilated into American society and appear to have no interest in anything Czech. My limited experience with them have left me disappointed in my Czech heritage - probably too much communist mentality was ingrained.
I also very much enjoyed your tour guiding experiences. I must qualify that I take the opposite approach from Morons Abroad. I use only 4 star hotels, in the city center and include all the services. But then I have to convince my potential clients. that they get what they pay for, I have some competition that beats me to death with prices but their marketing strategy is similar to Morons Abroad. You have some great stories about your tour members, I may have some that are equally hilarious - especially from 1974 to 1989, while we had to put up with the communist ********.
Let me end with a little story. I married a lady from Brno about 6 years ago. A client of mine (Jan Honner)
informed me that his mother- in law was coming for a visit -and he wanted me to meet her.....I put him off for 2 years because I was recently widowed. Finally in 1995, we met, fell in love and were married, and she did not speak a word of English. So Jan Honner is my step-son-in-law. The other part of this story is --- I can trace my roots to a small village, Bucek, (about 20 miles northeast of Plzen), back to 1455, I have documents showing the first Rabas showed up there about that time, they were millers, the mill operated till about 1920. I can do a direct lineage to 1704, that's pretty neat. Last year my last uncle on the Rabas side passed away, so I inherited the original family "estate". Now for the punchline, --- I suggested to my wife that we could retire in Bucek and open up a hospoda,.... her reaction was "ty vole", and then something in Czech that sounded like "don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way there" For someone who lived there for 50 years, I wanted to get her reaction - so I told her about the storyline of your book.
She just smiled, shook her head and said "ma pravdu".
Sorry to ramble and make this so long, but after all my rambling ---- "good job", it was a great read!
Myslím, že Československo je most mezi západní a východní Evropou.