Member Spotlight: Interview with Kevin McNamara
As a means of highlighting the recent publications and scholarly work of current members, the SSA will post ‘Member Spotlight’ interviews at regular intervals.
I am an Associate Scholar of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, and currently serve as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences, Washington, DC. I am a former journalist and congressional aide.
I continue to write essays and book reviews about Central and Eastern Europe, the European Union, nation-states vs. transnationalism, empires vs. nationalism, and about sovereignty and national identity, using history, geography, and culture to shed light on international affairs. One of my more recent articles was published in The National Interest: “From Brussels, with Love,” The National Interest (September/October 2019). Online: “How America’s European Allies Got Stuck in a Foreign Policy Triangle.”
Please say a few words about any activities or projects you’re involved in that link academia with society at large (i.e., any digital/podcast projects, community lectures/publications, etc.)
I was interviewed about my book, Dreams of a Great Small Nation, by three Czech television news programs (CNN-Czechia, Česká Televise, and Seznam Zprávy); two Slovak news magazines (Tyzden and Slovenka); a Slovak news website (Aktuality.sk); two Czech newspapers (Hospodářské Noviny and Lidovky); and twice by Radio Prague.
The book was excerpted in three American periodicals, Military History Quarterly, Russian Life, and Slovo: A Publication of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. It was also excerpted in a journal in the Slovak Republic, Historická Revue. Another excerpt will soon appear in a journal, elaborately named The Bulletin of the Laboratory of Ancient Technologies, published by Irkutsk National Research Technical University, Irkutsk, Russian Federation.
The book also inspired a museum exhibit, Guts & Glory: The War Train that Shaped a Nation, at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, IA, which ran from April 7, 2018 through December 31, 2018, and for which I served as the consultant.
Finally, it led to two dozen speaking engagements at venues like the Woodrow Wilson International for Scholars, Washington, DC; Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences, New York, NY; Embassy of the Slovak Republic, Washington, DC; Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, Pittsburgh, PA; Czech Center New York, NY; and World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, PA; National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Cedar Rapids, IA; and at overseas venues like the Slovak National Museum, Bratislava; and Masaryk University, Brno.
What Slovakia-related book or article would you recommend to readers who wish to learn more about some of Slovakia’s most pressing issues?
SSA faculty would probably have better answers to this question than I, but an undergraduate might profit by reading the following books, and in the following order:
- The History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival, by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum.
- The Slovak National Awakening: An Essay in the Intellectual History of East Central Europe, by Peter Brock.
- Dreams of a Great Small Nation: The Mutinous Army that Threatened a Revolution, Destroyed an Empire, Founded a Republic, and Remade the Map of Europe, by Kevin J. McNamara.
- National Conflict in Czechoslovakia: The Making and Remarking of a State, 1918-1987, by Carol Skalnik Leff.
What is your favorite place in Slovakia to visit and why?
I’ve been only twice, and the first time the U.S. State Department staff whisked me from venue to venue and – while I said much – I saw very little. The second visit was a much-needed vacation, and I just wandered Bratislava. Bratislava is an overlooked gem, and I want to return to both the Slovak and Czech republics to explore the many other smaller cities and towns.