By 1945, both the US State Department and US Intelligence saw Czechoslovakia as the master key to the balance of power in Europe and a chessboard for the power-game between East and West. In this book, Igor Lukes illuminates the early stages of the Cold War in postwar Prague. He paints acritical portrait of Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt and shows that although Washington understood that the outcome of the crisis in Prague might shape the political trends elsewhere in Europe, it ignored signs that democracy in Czechoslovakia was in trouble.A large section of the book deals with US Intelligence in postwar Prague. The American intelligence officials who served in Czechoslovakia from 1945 to 1948 were committed to the mission of gathering information and protecting democracy. Yet they were defeated by the Czech and Soviet clandestineservices that proved to be more shrewd and better informed. Indeed, Lukes reveals that a key American officer may have been turned by the Russians. Consequently, as the Communists moved to impose their dictatorship, the American Embassy was unprepared and helpless.