For most Czechs and Slovaks the Prague Spring was an exciting experiment in socialist democracy. For conservative apparatchiks throughout Eastern Europe, it represented a frightening slide into the politics of disorder and chaos — the bureaucrat's Babylon. The dramatic Soviet invasion of August 1968 was but the first small step towards 'normalization' — the restoration of order.
This process, which was begun in 1969, involved one of the most extensive social and political purges ever undertaken in post-war Eastern Europe. Having experienced their methods himself, Milan Simecka has been able to dissect the work of the 'normalizers' as they single-mindedly eradicated the last traces of independent thinking from the Party and conducted a ruthless onslaught against the cultural intelligentsia. Simecka's account will not only be of use to students of Czechoslovakia: it also invites comparison with Poland and other East European Countries, focusing as it does on the relationship between state and intellgentsia.
For the English edition Zdenek Mlynar, author of Night Frost in Prague and the highest-ranking Czechoslovak Communist Party official to emigrate to the West, has written a special introduction.