Petr Placák

Petr Placák (*1964 in Prague) is a writer, publicist and historian. Before November 1989, when he worked as a cleaner, stoker, pumper and forest worker, he published several articles in samizdat and exile magazines. From 1981 to 1986 he was a member of the underground band The Plastic People of the Universe. In the 1990s he studied history at the Charles University’s Faculty of Arts and worked in the press. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the cultural and social magazine Babylon and a researcher at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.


The Cop

February 2023, 560 pages

The Cop is a crossover between an essay, a historiographical piece and a work of fiction, moving freely from one genre to the other and beyond. Although the book is based on materials produced by the communist secret police, it uses these sources differently than historiography would—unbound by scholarly methodology, the book includes techniques commonly used in literature, like puns, allusions, metaphors, hyperboles, gradation and punchlines, making the ‘presented’ reality more three-dimensional. This is enhanced by the fact that Placák does not comment from a removed, third-person perspective—the materials in question concern him and his friends. But even if we classify The Cop as literature, the work provides valuable insight into the workings of the communist secret police during the normalization era. According to the author, the book should also serve a didactic purpose toward resisting external pressure, whether from the state or elsewhere.