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Václav Havel's Velvet Legacy

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Timothy Garton Ash writes that the late Václav Havel, who oversaw his country's bumpy transition to democracy, was the epitome of a dissident, "because he persisted in this struggle, patiently, non-violently, with dignity and wit, not knowing when or even if the outward victory would come."

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The former Czech Republic president and leader of the Velvet Revolution, as well as playwright, was also one of the most engaging human beings he has ever known. And it was a hard slog undoing communism as all the poison accumulated over 40 years came seeping out. "Havel fought with all his eloquence to keep together Masaryk's dream of a civic, multinational republic–in vain."

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