Each of the ten autobiographical sketches had been published in the Amerikán národní kalendá (a Czech-language magazine in Chicago. (That publication’s founding by a freethinking political group explains the fact that many of the essays it published expressed some negative attitudes toward organized religion.)
Several motifs and themes that run through the collection loom especially large: hardships of the immigrants, religious conflicts, the American Civil War, ethnic identity, farming practices, and attitudes toward the land. Among the writers are important leaders, adventurers, journalists, and typical farmers, chosen for their identity or powers of expression or for the importance of the events they record. Their impressions, attitudes, and emotions bring to life an era that other sources rarely can.
Clinton Machann and James W. Mendl, Jr., who selected and translated these stories, provide an interpretive introduction, informative notes, and a bibliography that help to place the life stories in their historical and cultural context. These narratives had never before been generally available; historians interested in American immigration and ethnicity, as well as the descendants of immigrants, will appreciate both their valuable contribution and the pleasure of reading them.
About the Author
Published by Texas A&M University Press