The Last Palace by Norman Eisen

The Last Palace

A masterfully told and immersive narrative about the last hundred years of European history, as seen through an extraordinary mansion – and the lives of the people who called it home When Norman Eisen moved into the US ambassador’s residence in Prague, returning to the land his mother had fled after the Holocaust, he was startled to discover swastikas hidden beneath the furniture. These symbols of Nazi Germany were remnants of the residence...

Details The Last Palace

TitleThe Last Palace
Release DateSep 4th, 2018
PublisherCrown Publishing Group (NY)
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, Biography, Politics, Historical, World War II, Holocaust, Autobiography, Memoir, World History

Reviews The Last Palace

  • Katie B
    3.5 starsThere were a couple reasons I was interested in reading this book. The first being I got to visit Prague a few years ago and it really is a beautiful city. Second, back when my husband and I lived in Germany, we loved going to see the different castles and palaces so I was intrigued by the description of this particular palace being perhaps the last one built in Europe. Sadly, I do not remember if I saw this one during my trip to Prague,...
  • Bob H
    This book covers the life and times of a great house in Prague, amid a tumultuous century for the city and the country. It's worth noting that the book comes to print at a time of several anniversaries: 50 years after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the crushing of the Prague Spring; 80 years after the September 1938 Munich conference and the abandonment of Czechoslovakia to Nazi occupation; 100 years after the end of Wor...
  • Maine Colonial
    Thanks to the publisher, Crown, for providing an advance reviewing copy.I like histories told through a place. And what a place in this case. Just imagine a Jewish man who grew up poor becoming a wealthy industrialist and deciding to build a grand, palatial house in the heart of Prague, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Otto Petschek was well known, an influencer and financier, and a German speaker, as most important people in Prague we...
  • Jill Meyer
    The city of Prague is geographically in the middle of what we used to call "Eastern Europe". The city, now the capital of the Czech Republic, has long been a magical, mystical place and its history is pretty much the history of the whole area. I am half-Czech, like former US Ambassador Norman Eisen, but my family immigrated to the US three or four generations ago. He has a more immediate connection with the country as his mother was a survivor of...
  • Michael
    I received this book through a GoodReads "First Reads" Giveaway. "The Last Palace" was built in the 1920s by Otto Petschek, a wealthy Jewish financier and coal baron. Through the lives of Petschek and three other former residents of the palace, Eisen takes the reader through Prague’s dramatic and tempestuous 20th century, including the German occupation during World War II, the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968, and the Velvet Revolution in...
  • Meryl Landau
    Norm Eisen's The Last Palace is a fascinating look at 20th century Europe. This history unfolds through the inhabitants of a singular palace in Prague, built after World War I by a Jewish banker and industrialist, confiscated by the Nazis during WWII, then lived in by three consequential American diplomats--Eisen among them. When I turned the page after reading through the first three fascinating people, I expected number four to be a boring plac...
  • Terzah
    A very enjoyable history lesson disguised as a great yarn. I learned much about 20th century Europe though the stories of one palace and its occupants.
  • Tony
    THE LAST PALACE. (2018). Norman Eisen. ****.This turned out to be a chatty review of the history of Czechoslovakia and the rest of Europe during the turbulent period after WW I up to the present day. The author was the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 2011 to 2014 and has a solid background in its history. About the last quarter of the book is devoted to the ambassadorial reign of Shirley temple Black, who Mr. Eisen obviously highly respect...
  • Kelsey
    This was a fascinating story by the former US Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Every US ambassador lives in this beautiful palace in Prague and have done so for many years. THE LAST PALACE takes the reader through the history of this famous building; we learn about its creation, role in World War II, and how it came to be the residence of the US Ambassador. Norman Eisen also weaves in the story of his mother's life as she was a Holocaust survivo...
  • Larry Hostetler
    Would give this 4.5 stars if I could, only because the title somewhat misleads. It is not so much about “The Last Palace” itself (the content about the structure was five star worthy) as about Prague and the political world around it sine the Palace was conceived. I also found the opening section (about the individual behind its construction and his family) to be too lengthy to keep my interest.But once the subject (the subtitle is more accur...
  • Lewis Szymanski
    I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The Last Palace: Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House is the history of Otto Petschek's palace. This is the history of how the palace was built, who lived in it, and what they did while living there. It's also the history of Prague, Chekoslovia, and Europe in the 20th century.
  • Edna Axelrod
    This is an excellent book, a meticulously researched and detailed work of non-fiction that is written with the pace of a thriller. Spanning more than a century, the historical events related here are inherently gripping. The people who built, inhabited, occupied, preserved, and labored in “The Last Palace” come alive on the page. And laced throughout are two important themes: the importance of moral integrity and the precariousness of freedom...
  • Brenda Schneider
    I really enjoyed this fascinating story. The history was great. I won this book through goodreads.
  • Mike He
    Not only is Norman Eisen a skilled diplomat representing the US interests in the Czech Republic in the Obama administration, but also he is a great story teller as evidenced in The Last Palace: Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House. The well-researched book, intertwined with the ordeal of the author's Czechoslovakia-born mother during World War II, is a saga about the so-called "The Last Palace" in Prague, built and re-...
  • Argum
    I won a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.The former Ambassador to the Czech Republic tells a brilliant story of European wars, a single house, a single family, and what democracy means. As the child of a Czechoslavakian Holocaust survivor, he returned to the most famous Czech Jewish industrialist amazing house - not the US Ambassador's home in Prague. The story focuses on the life of his mother, the original home owner/builder, S...
  • Kayla Tornello
    This book offered a look at Czechoslovakia's history. It centered around the opulent palace built by Otto Petschek. After the Jewish Petscheks fled the country on the brink of WWII, the palace was occupied by Germans during the war and eventually became the residence of the U.S. ambassador. I enjoyed learning about the individuals who occupied the palace and also the history of the country. Any history lover should pick up this book!I received th...
  • Judy
    Thank you Penguin Random House for sending me this good reads give away. Mr. Eisen does a fantastic job of telling the history of Otto Petschek's "palace" in Prague. The reader follows along the rise and fall of European good and bad guys from WW1 to the present while showing the lives of the inhabitants of the Palace. A very interesting story especially with our politics today.
  • Sara
    The Last Palace presents the history of Prague and Czechoslovakia through the lens of the Petschek Palace and the residents who occupied it. The palace, the most opulent in Prague, was built after WWI by a wealthy Jewish businessman, Otto Petschek, to his unique and demanding specifications. When the Nazis come to power, the Petscheks escape, leaving the palace to the occupancy of a Wehrmacht commander. Finally, thanks to the efforts of the post-...
  • Kelly
    Norman Eisen’s The Last Palace is a beautiful and personal story of Czech history over 100 years, told through his perspective and that of four previous occupants of the Petschek palace (later home of American ambassadors to the Czech Republic) as well as his own mother. It starts with the early life and then adult successes of Otto Petschek, a Jewish business magnate in Prague. His financial success leads to his decision to build his own perso...
  • Terri Wangard
    This is the biography of a palace and the history of a nation in the twentieth century. The story of Otto Petschek is fascinating. His father sought to keep a low profile, but not Otto. Building himself a palace proved to be folly for him, estranging his children, bringing himself to the edge of ruin, and fueling dissent against him. And he only lived there for four years. Especially interesting to me was Shirley Temple Black’s association with...
  • Diane
    Excellent story of palace built by a man who made a family fortune in the coal industry during WWI. Describes the many years he took to bring his creation to fruition, how he lost it when his family had to leave Prague during WWII because they were Jewish. Years later it becomes the home of the American Embassy. Told by an American Embassador to Prague. Well documented and researched volume.
  • Nate
    3.5 starsThe Last Palace is a book covering the politics of Prague in the most recent century through the eyes of the residence of Otto Petschek's magnificent palace: Otto Petschek himself, Rudolf Toussaint the German who tried to keep himself clean of Nazi crimes while in the army, Laurence Steinhardt the rescuer of the Palace from Soviet hands, Shirley Temple Black the ambassadress during the Velvet Revolution, and the author another ambassador...
  • Karyl
    I heard about this book on NPR during one of my marathon ironing sessions, and considering that I'm fascinated both by the Holocaust and by Europe in general, this book seemed right up my alley. It still boggles my mind that in my lifetime, eastern Europe was behind the Iron Curtain, and only a lucky few were able to defect to the West. Along these lines, I recently watched the movie The Lives of Others, about the lives of East Germans under thei...
  • Koen
    Exhilarating read by former Czech republic ambassador for the United States and Ethics Tsar for the Obama administration Norman Eisen.The Last Palace is a history of Czechoslovakia in four acts with a building at its centre. When Jewish financial baron Otto Petschek built his Petschek Palace after World War I it almost ruined him financially. Such was his commitment to building this marvellous building which would be his legacy and is said to be ...
  • Marie Look
    I was excited to receive my ARC of The Last Palace from Penguin Random House's First To Read program, however I was ultimately disappointed in this book for two main reasons. First, its cover and summary had given me the impression that the incredible house itself would be a character in the book, or at least a focal point, but that turned out to not be the case. I felt this book turned out to be more of a history of Prague from the 1920s to the ...
  • Bimal Patel
    Thank you Penguin Random House for sending me this unpublished copy (now published as of Sept 4th) for review. The Last Palace by Norman Eisen (US ambassador to Czech Republic) is truly an amazing read. To learn the history you can read books written by academic scholars and pour over historical documents which can be boring and downright depressing or you can study an object, a person, an event that has been affected politically, socially, cultu...
  • Deb
    If these walls could talk......That is exactly what the last palace built in Europe did. The current US Embassy in the Czech Republic is that palace. The history of the palace is divided into four sections. The first being the original Jewish owner's story of building the palace. The palace was an obsession with Otto Petschek. He was a Jewish financial banker who made his fortune in coal after World War I. The second being, the German General, Ru...
  • Katrina
    I won this book via Goodreads giveaways. My copy is an uncorrected proof.Wow, I thought this would have been much better. It sound so good when I read the synopsis but man... it wasn't. There were definitely parts that moved along but then there were parts that just dragged! Eisen just kind of leaves things hanging about each of the four people that lived in the house... what happened after they left? I would have liked a little more resolution. ...
  • Angie
    This was an interesting account of some of the most turbulent times in Czech history, and the narrowed viewpoint (showing events through the eyes of the occupants of Petschek's palace) worked really well, at times even adding an air of suspense. Otto's story was my least favorite. He was willing to pay far too high a price for the completion of his magnificent palace. Touissant was interesting as a man who thought he could remain part of the Germ...
  • Patti
    Overall an engaging story but the writing left a bit to be desired. The author loves to state the obvious and repeats himself, for example when talking about how Shirley Temple Black's husband trusted her knowing she was feisty. Yes, we get it. And we understand that she was HUGELY famous during the depression, more so than other big name stars of the time. Now can we move on! I also was disappointed that the author did not investigate deeper int...