Cover image for Fields of light : a son remembers his heroic father
Fields of light : a son remembers his heroic father
Hurka, Joseph.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Wainscott, N.Y. : Pushcart Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 201 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
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Item Holds
DB2241.H87 H87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Winner of Pushcart's 19th annual Editor's Book Award. After the fall of Communism, Joseph Hurka traveled to Prague, where his father had fought in the Underground against the Czech-Stalinist government. As the son walks in his father's steps, he uncovers a hidden past: he learns of his father's brutal imprisonment, his fortunate release, and his fierce resistance work. Fields of Light is a loving tribute to a father, a tale of personal sacrifice and endurance--and of history reborn after extraordinary totalitarian efforts to erase it.

Author Notes

Joseph Hurka's stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Alaska Quarterly, and elsewhere. He teaches at Tufts University

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Half a century ago the author's father, Josef, was a part of the Czechoslovakian underground resistance against the Stalinist government. But, like many heroes who battled against enormous odds, his bravery went largely unknown. After the fall of communism, Hurka's son went to Prague and retraced his father's footsteps. He discovered what sort of man his father had been, how he had been imprisoned and nearly killed, and how he had survived a violent conflict by a combination of luck and stamina and the certainty that what he was doing was important. The author also discovered modern Czechoslovakia and its people, thrust back into the world after decades of being kept apart from it. It's the story of a man who fought for democracy and a country that, only now, is experiencing it first-hand (as two countries, Slovakia and the Czech Republic). Most of all, it's the moving account of a son who finally comes to know his father. Winner of the Pushcart Prize. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1991, Hurka traveled to Czechoslovakia with a couple of goals in mind: visit his aunt and learn about what happened to his father's native country and his father during the years of Communist rule. The result is a poignant memoir that intersperses the gripping story of his family's history and his father's anti-Communist fight with more leisurely descriptions of his own visit to Prague. As Hurka visits the Czech capital, he provides a welcome travelogue to a beautiful city that was just emerging from its gray Communist past and being discovered as a tourist destination. The passages on 1991 Czechoslovakia serve as breathers from the drama of this nonfiction thriller. Soon after the Communist takeover in the late 1940s, his father joined the Resistance. With loving prose, Hurka, who teaches at Tufts University, depicts his father's courageous struggle to ferry other anti-Communists into Germany and his time in jail after the Czech authorities caught him. What emerges in addition to Hurka's respect for his father are the difficult choices that Communism forced onto individuals and the dignity that was still possible. For a while after escaping from Czechoslovakia in the early '50s, Hurka's father lived in England and worked as a spy for the U.S. government, his family unaware of his whereabouts. In this era of memoirs that trace family dysfunction and the wounds children suffered at the hands of their parents, Hurka's tribute to his father is a welcome change. This fine memoir is the winner of Pushcart's 19th annual Editors' Book Award (nominated by Andre Dubus). Illus. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Political struggles, lost and won, are full of unsung heroes. Hurka's lyrical work insures that such anonymity won't befall his father, an anti-Communist resistance fighter. In a poignant style that gracefully interweaves thoughts from a travel diary on Hurka's pilgrimage to modern Prague with dream sequences and bitter historical reality, the author traces the terrible and glorious history of the Czech Republic through the lives of his family and particularly his father, who was imprisoned by Czechoslovakia's Communist government and after winning his release continued his work with the Underground. In this book, we get a thumbnail sketch of a centuries-long struggle for independence and are made to feel the sacrifices of "ordinary" men and women. One's heart goes out to the people caught in the unfortunate geopolitical accident of the 20th century that placed Czechoslovakia between Nazism and communism. The reader comes away with the feeling that in the quest for freedom there are very few ordinary people. Recommended for all collections. [This book is winner of Pushcart's 19th Annual Editors' Book Award. Ed.] Wendy Miller, Lexington P.L., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 3
Chapter 1 Coming to Bohemiap. 7
Chapter 2 Ancient Voicesp. 30
Chapter 3 The Martyrs, The Cathedral, and an Evening at 139 Vinohradskap. 57
Chapter 4 A Reckoningp. 71
Chapter 5 A Hospital Storyp. 99
Chapter 6 Ghosts in the Golden Cityp. 123
Chapter 7 Stones and Castlesp. 141
Chapter 8 The Saint, The Priest, and the Clockp. 156
Chapter 9 Shadowsp. 169
Chapter 10 Liberationp. 185
Chapter 11 A Prayerp. 194
Selected Bibliographyp. 199