Author, The Last Palace


The Last Palace is built upon three years of research that I undertook in over forty archives across multiple countries after leaving my ambassadorship in August 2014. I also conducted dozens of interviews and explored the voluminous secondary sources. I benefited from the extraordinary cooperation of the descendants of each of my protagonists; of scholars and experts in each of the eras I write about; and of my wonderful global team of research assistants. They included native speakers of Czech and German, and the work would have been impossible without them, because my grasp of the former language is imperfect and the latter even more so. 

An army of people helped bring this volume into being and I am deeply grateful to them all. Foremost among them: my friend Daniel Berger, who encouraged me daily when this book was being written and supported it in every way; Brookings and in particular my colleague Darrell West, who was an early champion of the book (and of me) at that institution; my agent Eric Simonoff of WME, whose excitement about my rough concept propelled it forward, including landing it in the hands of my wonderful publisher, Molly Stern, and her team at Crown; my first editor there, the incredible Domenica Alioto, who worked with me page by page (literally) to find the words to animate the people and their stories, and who remade the book with her suggestion (er, demand) that I weave my mother’s life in; Domenica’s successor at Crown, Claire Potter, who took over when the first draft was complete and brilliantly polished it into final form; my lead research assistant at Brookings, Andrew Kenealy, whose joyful labors made this book as much his as it is mine; our Brookings research colleagues Kelsey Landau, Carolyn Taratko, and Curtlyn Kramer; my lead research assistants in Prague, Mikuláš Pešta and Carmen Rubovičová, and Forum 2000 and its director Jakub Klepal for providing them and me support; our European research colleagues Petr Brod, Jürgen Förster, Julia Gulatee, Kristýna Kaucká, Friederike Krüger, Susanne Maier, Martina Sedláčková and Adéla Vondrovicová; Otto’s Petschek’s daughter, Eva Petschek Goldmann, grandchildren Peter Goldmann and Andrea Klainer, great-grandson Marc Robinson, nephew Robert Gellert and grand-nephew David Spohngellert, whose great help stood out even among the warm cooperation of the other Petschek relations named below; Rudolf Toussaint’s grandson Alexander Toussaint, Laurence Steinhardt’s granddaughter Laurene Sherlock and nephew Peter Rosenblatt, and Shirley Temple Black’s son Charles Black Jr., daughter Susan Black Falaschi and Curtis Grisham, all of whom provided truly extraordinary assistance; Lital Beer, Rita Margolin and their colleagues at Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, Israel, for their invaluable research help; my family, including my mother Frieda Eisen, wife Lindsay Kaplan, daughter Tamar Eisen, mother-in-law Anne Kaplan, and cousins Moshe and Mordechai Schiff; and the experts who were kind enough to read and comment on drafts, Professor Hillel Kieval (Part One), Professor Igor Lukes (Parts Two and Three), Paul Wilson (Part Four), Leon Wieseltier (entire book) and Al Kamen (entire book). I thank them all for their aid, though any errors are solely my own.  

Thanks also to the many others who helped. Part One: Fero Bányai, Petr Brod, Michal Frankl, Robert Goldmann, Professor Dagmar Hájková, Sylvia Petschek Hoag, Barbara Kafka, Doris Kafka, Sherry Keneson-Hall, Jana Kernerova, Andrea Goldmann Klainer, Tomáš Kraus, Professor Eduard Kubů, Helene Lipstadt, Zdeněk Lukeš, Dr. Moti Moscovici, Tamar Newberger, Ambassador John Ordway, Leo Pavlát, Eric and Betty Petschek, Andrea Ricka, Ambassador Andy Schapiro, Ann Schlesinger, Richard Schlesinger, Misha Sidenberg, Daniel Špička, Ruth Stein, Sylvia Stein, Helena Vágnerová, Ambassador Jenonne Walker, and Robert Zimmerman. Part Two: Benjamin Frommer, Vojtěch Kyncl, and Geoffrey Megargee and the staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Part Three: Virginia Birge, Ambassador Petr Gandalovič, Štěpán Gilar, Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček, Diana Sternberg Phipps, Richard Rosenblatt, Eric Saul, Marc Scarfe, and Jonathan Weisgall. Part Four: Richard Bassett, Cliff Bond, Alden Fahy, Behar Godani, Thomas Hull, Ed Kaska, Robert Kiene, John Macgregor, Robert McRae, Cameron Munter, Tomki Němec, Fernando Rondon, Theodore Russell, the United States Department of State, Alexandr (Sasha) Vondra, and Michael Žantovský. Frieda Eisen chapters: Herschel Klein, Edith Kovacs, Denisa Viňanská. Entire book: Aaron Keyak, Erica Brown, Laura Blumenfeld, Kinney Zalesne, Samuel Skoblo, Ambassador Dennis Ross, Jessica Salky, and Mark Zaid.  

At William Morris Endeavor: Annemarie Blumhagen, Raffaela De Angelis, Alicia Everett, and Jazmine Goguen. At Crown Publishing Group: Minhee Bae, Lauren Dong, Melissa Esner, Elena Giavaldi, Jane Hardick, Jessica Heim, Rachel Rokicki, Annsley Rosner, Chris Tanigawa, Norman Watkins, and Liz Wetzel. Research assistance was also provided by a series of very talented Brookings interns: Grace Abiera, Theodore Becker-Jacob, Mathilde Beniflah, Matthew Bogard, Kelsey Borenzweig, Jordan Cassel, Ladislav Charouz, Caelan Dick, Nicole Don, Olivia Gotham, Alexander Jin, Vibha Kannan, Natalie Mayer, Shaida Mirmazaheri, Elisa Moore, Emma Morrison, Matthew Quallen, Henry Robinson, Andrew Sall, Mrinalini Shah, Gabriela Torres-Lorenzotti, and Albert Webson. Others at Brookings to whom I am grateful are Cy Behroozi, Bob Brier, Brigitte Brown, Courtney Dunakin, Stephen Hess, Sarah Chilton, Laura Mooney, and Jonathan Rauch.

Other research assistance was provided by Nicholas Arthofer, Saif Bajwa, Elia Černohlávková, Chris Bock, Ondřej Cinkajzl, Cole Cooper, Alanna Dwoskin, Julia Eichelberger, Hunter Feyerherm, Tomáš Gecko, David Kraus, Michael Morgan, Jr., Emily Morin, Stacy Stevens, Daniela Tai, Paul Talma, Maximilian Ulrich, Lenka Waisová, Raina Weinstein, and Tereza Žižková. Villa Petschek staff: Miroslav Černík, Karel Bína, Iva Gothardová, Václav Kozel, Dagmar Kubová, Martin Severin, Eva Šilhánková, Dana Škrnová, Lukáš Stach, Jiřina Štědrá, Jakub Tůma, Marek Vild, and Jana Zahradnická. 

To all, my utmost thanks.

The opinions and characterizations in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent official positions of the United States Government.