Summer Meditations on Politics, Morality and Civility in a Time of Transition by Vaclav Havel, translated by Paul Wilson (Faber and Faber, £6.99)
IF ever there was a man of whom it could be said that the trappings of power were a mere trifle, Czechoslovakia's poet-president, Vaclav Havel. is that man.
Catapulted to high office by the extraordinary political events in eastern Europe of 1989, Vaclav Havel has declined to move into the grandeur of the presidential apartments in Prague Castle ever since. The modest house where he prefers to live the house where he grew up has already become a place of pilgrimage for the citizens of his country.
More than two years have passed since the former dissident writer and founder of Civic Forum, Czechoslovakia's first legal opposition party, became president of the republic.
In his first hook as president, Havel sets out what he believes the role of a head of state should be, and where he wants his
country, ruined by decades of communist mismanagement, to go in the years ahead.
"Genuine politics politics worthy of the name, and the only politics I am willing to devote myself to is simply a matter of serving those around us: serving the community, and serving those who will come after us. Its deepest roots are moral because it is a responsibility, expressed through action, to and for the whole," Havel says.
But Havel is no fool infatuated with the idea of being a man of the people. His country is at a crossroads, and he knows it. Czechoslovakia must reconstruct for itself a working market economy if it is to resume its place as a prosperous nation at the heart of Europe. geographically and politically.
His book which is really a collection of muses on the political state of the republic as it enters a new age is an inspiring new departure in European politics. Here is a philosophy which is lived and felt by a head of state, set down in writing model of how a country should be run for the good of all who live in it.