Czechoslovakia’s victories over the USSR at the 1969 ice hockey world championships – just a year after Soviet tanks had rolled into the country – represent a famous moment in the country’s modern history. Those games, and the riots they sparked in Prague and elsewhere, are a central theme of Freedom to Win, a gripping, freshly published book by Ethan Scheiner, professor of political science at the University of California, Davis. I spoke to the author on the eve of its release.
What was the initial spark for the book?
“I have a long history of working on things other than Czechoslovakia and Cold War politics [laughs]; in my earlier life I was a scholar working on Japanese politics and elections around the world.
“I had always been a big sports fan and for some reason I thought I could translate that into a class on politics and sports. But then when I sat down to teach the class, in 2016, I suddenly realised, Oh my gosh, I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing here [laughs].
“As I got a few weeks into the class I got really stressed out trying to figure out content: What am I going to teach my students?
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Author: Ian Willoughby