VACLAV HAVEL: Dissident To President

VACLAV HAVEL, master of absurdist theater, philosopher of rebellion and veteran of Czechoslovakia's best prisons, becomes its head of state

A few months after the 1968 Soviet invasion ended the Prague Spring of intellectual freedom in his homeland, Czech playwright Vaclav Havel joined many of his countrymen lining up at the U.S. embassy in quest of a visa. Like most of those in the queue, he had something to flee from: the hard-line new government wanted him out and had banned his works from production or publication. Unlike most of the others, Havel had someplace to go: three of his plays had won acclaim in the West, and he had been offered both a job at New York City's prestigious Public...