Dalibor Vácha

Dalibor Vácha (b. 1980) is a Czech historian. His prose is mostly dedicated to the great wars of the 20th century and individual human destinies in those wars. He is the author of 14 best-selling novels. He writes about World Wars I and II, focusing primarily on the histories of the everyday in the Czechoslovak Legions, as well as the history of the interwar period. He does not forget the fantastic, however – he has written a post-apocalyptic novel.


For Freedom

October 2019, 304 pages

The horrors of trenches full of mud, blood and corpse-eating rats.

Vácha’s new novel turns to the stories of Czechoslovak legionaries who fought for freedom in France and longed to live through the war. And see the loves of their lives. The book tells the horrifying journey of young sculptor Petr Michalec through the first world war, knee-deep in blood, waist-deep in the mud of trench warfare in France, with an obsessive, haunting memory of one fateful encounter constantly on his mind. Rats, death, and a million different kinds of suffering. Combat, chemical weapons, and knife fights in mud-filled trenches. And that one real love relationship, where the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. Is freedom worth dying for? And killing for?

From the sample translation

“Michalec staggers on through the trench. His senses are OK, his mind is OK; but his body refuses to obey him. His legs gave up on him at an especially miserable spot, forcing him to crawl for several minutes, since he was dead from the waist down. Even now, he’s still limping on both sides, can’t feel his legs, they’re full of pins and needles, all the joints from the hips down through his knees and all the way to his toes are in excruciating pain. The rain is stopping.”