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Event Series Event Series: Czech’em Out Book Club

Czech’em Out Book Club

Join us each Monday in the Skala Bartizal Library for the next six weeks as we read and discuss “Journey for Freedom: Defection from Communist Czechoslovakia” by Peter Vodenka. Discussions will be led by NCSML Volunteer, Steve Pederson.

This is a fascinating true story of determination, mortal danger, and success. After ten years of planning and preparations, the author, then twenty-seven years old along with his twenty-four year-old wife, and their four and two year old children defected in the middle of a cold rainy night from behind the Iron Curtain of Communist Czechoslovakia to Austria, while being chased by guards with automatic weapons. Their own government would rather see them dead than to be free.

They left everything and everybody they loved behind and risked everything, including their own lives for a chance to live a life of freedom in the United States of America. They chose not to tell any family members about their plans in order to protect them from the wrath of their own government, which they knew would follow if their escape was successful.

This story comes from the dreams of a teenage boy longing for freedom from an oppressive government in a small foreign country to living a free life in America and the opportunity to call the American flag his flag, and the Star Spangled Banner his anthem. This story combines all the important components such as determination, hope, life threatening dangers, children, the struggle for freedom, new beginnings, hard work, and success.

About the author, Peter Vodenka

Peter’s passion is traveling across America to encourage audiences to be proud to be an American and also to challenge everyone to not take their freedom for granted.

Peter is the proud owner of a successful construction company. His wife, Lilly, works in a prominent medical facility. Their daughter, Patty, graduated from college with a degree in graphic design. Their son, Peter, joined the U.S. Marines and was in the first wave of soldiers marching into Baghdad.

About the moderator, Steve Pederson

Steve is an UW Eau Claire graduate with a history major and a Scandinavian studies minor. He taught U.S. history, economics, and advanced placement American history in two Wisconsin high schools.  Living in Iowa for the past 19 years, Steve is currently employed as a tour guide for the Walter’s Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home at Cedar Rock State Park in rural Buchanan County.

Cost: Free


July 10, 2023
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM


Skala Bartizal Library
1400 Inspiration Pl SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 United States
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