Sperber Community Library
15600 Mulholland Drive
Bel Air, 90077
When Norman Eisen moved into the US ambassador’s residence in Prague in 2011, he was startled to discover a swastika affixed to the underside of a table in his new home. These symbols of Nazi Germany turned out to be hidden throughout the house—remnants of the residence’s forgotten history. Eisen, the son of a Czech Holocaust survivor, wondered what other forces had swept through these corridors. What had the palace walls seen over the past hundred years?
Those questions led him to write The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House, which traces Europe’s modern trajectory and, through intimate character portraits of the people who lived in the house, draws out the recurring struggle of democracy against Communism and Fascism.
Woven through this era-spanning narrative is the story of Eisen’s own mother, Frieda, a Holocaust survivor born in a Czechoslovak village. More than a half-century later, Frieda was afraid when her son returned to the country where she had suffered so much. Her concerns seemed only specters of the past to Eisen, but he soon found that the past was very much alive.
About the Author:
Norman Eisen was President Obama’s “Ethics Czar”—a moniker given to him by the press when he served as White House special counsel from 2009 to 2011. He is a CNN political commentator, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and chair of the government watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), which he cofounded in 2003. He writes regularly for the New York Times, USA Today, and Politico. Eisen served as the US ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014—where he lived in the book’s titular palace, famous among diplomats for its beauty.