This summer, doing research for another project (which concerned illegal arms dealing) I stumbled across the story of X. X was a businessman who was murdered in 1983. His body bobbed up in a lake in a New York State park. The fascination, here, was the more that I followed the story in the newspapers of the time, the more it became clear that the authorities had a pretty good idea of who murdered X. But they never acted on that knowledge. X became a cold case from the Cold War.
So I wrote a long piece about him.
Here's the beginning of the story.
-Imagine a wealthy executive. Retired from GM. His neighbors in the tony suburb of Aurora, Ohio, described him as a super patriot, a John Wayne with a Czech accent. Imagine him in 1983.
- Imagine his career, with its wonderous lacunae. Starting with birth. Our man is born to American parents in Prague in 1919. Of all times, of all places. Prague was, finally, a capital city again. In that strange merger of Bohemian nationalism and Wilsonian racism, a nation was born, another of the many that jumped out of the pocket of the Versailles treaty. Wilson, the American president, had well known white supremacist views, identifying America with a certain vision of the white race. That view inserted itself into the post WWI world, where nation and race were increasingly taken to be synonymous concepts. It was Wilson, it was the inheritance of a certain nationalist romanticism gone sour. The logic of this equation made those in the nation who were not part of the favored race maroons within their own nation. The old legitimating tie to a family, a dynasty, was torn. Who, exactly, was a Czechoslovakian?