When the nations of Eastern Europe slipped the handcuffs of the Soviet Union in 1989, each did so in a different way. The case of Czechoslovakia seemed the most romantic. It was a "Velvet Revolution" hatched in Prague's Magic Lantern Theater under the direction of a dissident playwright, Vaclav Havel.
Reality was a bit more complicated. The romantic story of the Czechs' and Slovaks' rising for freedom, which made them sound like a nation of poets, masked the fact that their government had been one of the most repressive in the Eastern Bloc, ever since the Soviets had crushed the Prague Spring of 1968 and installed a puppet regime.
The fairy tale also glossed over the ethnic tensions within the country, which erupted quickly after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Within three years the Czechs and Slovaks began to go their separate ways.