It is no easy task to catch and hold a reader's attention in a world so full of distractions; it is even harder to nudge him into reading the history of a small nation in the heart of Europe. Nevertheless, such is Anton Spiesz' endeavor in his final work, a survey of Slovak history. Published in the wake of the Velvet Revolution, it is the first such survey attempted after the fall of Communism.
The integrity of such an outstanding Slovak historian as Anton Spiesz, Ph.D., guarantees an interesting read. Dr. Spiesz is known for his tireless search for historical truth, his revisions of older concepts, and his presentation of new views, even in the face of controversy or derision. The timely publication of such a high-quality history is all the more welcome, since its author no longer feels obligated to nod his head to the various 'powers that be', whether smiling thankfully to the left or respectfully to the right.
Spiesz dedicated many years to research at the Historical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. As an establishment institution with a predetermined methodology, it posited a 'politically correct' Marxist interpretation of Slovakia's past. Eventually dismissed from the Institute over methodological conflicts, Spiesz could not resume his work there until after the political upheaval of 1989. He eagerly welcomed the new historical development that allowed his lungs to once again breathe the bracing air of freedom. Concerns of censorship no longer dimming his thoughts, he was again able to tackle 'unclear issues', no matter their complexity. In that moment of catharsis this book began to take shape.
The monograph is in many ways a consolidation of several basic studies Spiesz had previously published both in Slovakia and abroad: Manufakturne obdobie na Slovensku (The Era of Manufacturing in Slovakia), 1961; Poddani Tekova v 18. storoci (Serfdom in 18 Century Tekov. A joint study with J. Watzky), 1966; Remeslo na Slovensku v obdobi cechov (Slovakian Crafts during the Period of Guilds), 1972; Statuty bratislavskych cechov (The By-laws of Bratislava's Guilds), 1978; Slobodne kralovske mesta na Slovensku v ro koch 1680–1780 (Royally Chartered Towns in Slovakia 1680–1780), 1983; Remesla, cechy a manufaktury na Slovensku (Crafts, Guilds and Manufacturing Plants in Slovakia), 1983; and Bratislava v 18. storoci (Bratislava in the 18 Century), 1987.
Anton Spiesz also made significant contributions to the following works: Prehled dejin Ceskoslovenska (A Survey of Czecho-Slovak History), 2 vol. 1981; and Dejiny Slovenska (A History of Slovakia), 1990. He also cooperated with other scholars in compiling the following: Historicky atlas CSR (An Historical Atlas of the Czecho-Slovak Republic); Dejiny ceskoslovenskeho vojenstvi (An History of the Czecho-Slovak Military); Hospodarske dejiny . . .