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Home Events Current & Upcoming Details - My Slovakia, My Family: One Family's Role in the Birth of a Nation


My Slovakia, My Family: One Family's Role in the Birth of a Nation
10.30.2014 - 10.30.2014 19.00 h
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library - Cedar Rapids
Book Reading


My Slovakia, My Family: One Family's Role in the Birth of a Nation

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Slovakia, My Family: One Family's Role in the Birth of a Nation, by John Palka
Part of the NCSML's Great Stories Author Series.
Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
WFLA/ZCBJ Heritage Hall at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.
Includes a presentation by Dr. John Palka and a book signing. Books are available in the NCSML's Museum Store.
Free to the public.

"My Slovakia, My Family is a heartfelt tale of a nation’s struggle to exist and of a family’s pivotal role in influencing its destiny. This is a superb memoir and a valuable contribution to our knowledge of twentieth century Europe." - Madeleine Albright, Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton

True to its title this book presents much of the history of Slovakia while narrating the story of the author's family, one of the most notable in the country's history. Part genealogy, part historical analysis, and part immigrant story Palka's narrative covers a span of 300 years. Starting in the era of the craft guilds the book concludes with the author's personal encounters in the Slovakia of today — a Slovakia that reflects both the culture and its turbulent history. Including ordinary people as well as towering historical figures, this is a fascinating and superbly documented biography of the Hodža and Pálka families' significant role in Slovak history. 

A Slovak edition of the book was published in 2010. That volume garnered great media attention and favorable reviews in Slovakia for its gripping narrative, its meticulous documentation, and its uplifting message. While most American know little of the Slovak history, early readers in the United States have been similarly captivated. 
My Slovakia, My Family has been presented to large and enthusiastic audiences at the Slovak consulate in New York City, the Slovak embassy in Washington, D.C., and at the Slovak embassy in London, England, among other locations.

Dr. John Palka, the grandson of pre-WWII Czechoslovak prime minister Milan Hodža, is a retired professor of biology (University of Washington, Seattle) with an academic specialty in neuroscience. He is the winner of numerous prestigious awards in this field, including two Fulbright Fellowships for teaching in India and a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in Cambridge, England. The breadth of his interests is revealed in the titles of courses he developed, among them "Brains, Consciousness, and Evolution, " "Science and Culture," and "Nature in Scripture." He is the co-founder of the University of Washington's highly lauded Program on the Environment. He and his wife Yvonne have two daughters and five grandchildren, two of them already in college. 

A two-time refugee from his native land of Slovakia — in 1939 from the Nazis and in 1949 from the Communists — Dr. Palka has retained a love for his Slovak homeland and fluency in the Slovak language. Since the fall of Communism in 1989, he has visited his family in Slovakia almost every year. These experiences form the foundation of his account of the role that many generations of the family played in the national life of Slovakia.


WFLA/ZCBJ Heritage Hall
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Pl SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
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Free to the public


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National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Place SW
IA 52404
Cedar Rapids
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