Vaclav Havel

In the euphoric days in 1989 after Vaclav Havel went from ex--political prisoner to President of Czechoslovakia, he had a recurring dream that the old secret police showed up, stripped him of power and threw him back in jail. It all did seem unreal. Havel, an absurdist playwright who led the bloodless Velvet Revolution that toppled one of Eastern Europe's coldest Cold War regimes, died Dec. 18 at 75. He was thrust into a role he did not choose: a slightly absurd role, certainly, of teaching Czechs what it means to build freedom. He came from a little country, but his...

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