Michal Kšiňan’s Milan Rastislav Štefánik: The Slovak National Hero and Co-Founder of Czechoslovakia is the first scientific biography of Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880–1919) that is focused on analyzing the process of how he became the Slovak national hero.
Although he is relatively unknown internationally, his contemporaries compared him “to Choderlos de Laclos for the use of military tactics in love affairs, to Lawrence of Arabia for vision, to Bonaparte for ambition ... and to one of apostles for conviction.” He played a key role in founding an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 through his relentless worldwide travels during the First World War in order to create the Czechoslovak Army: he visited Serbia and Romania on the eve of invasion by the Central Powers, Russia before the February revolution, the United States after it declared war on Germany, Italy dealing with the consequences of defeat in the Caporetto battle, and again when Russia plunged into Civil War.
Several historical methods are used to analyze the aforementioned central research question of this biography such as social capital to explain his rise in French society, the charismatic leader to understand how he convinced and won over a relatively large number of people; more traditional political, military, and diplomatic history to show his contribution to the founding of Czechoslovakia, and memory studies to analyze his extraordinary popularity in Slovakia. By mapping his intriguing life, the book will be of interest to scholars in a broad range of areas including history of Central Europe, especially Czechoslovakia, international relations, social history, French society at the beginning of the 20th century and biographical research.
Michal Kšiňan is a senior researcher at the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
Leslie Waters is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of Borders on the Move: Territorial Change and Ethnic Cleansing in the Hungarian-Slovak Borderlands, 1938-1948 (University of Rochester, 2020). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @leslieh2Os.