This book offers a comprehensive history of the Czechoslovak Ocean Shipping Company (C. O. S.) from its beginning in the late 1940s until the fall of communism. Owned by the Czechoslovak state, C. O. S.'s activities were shaped by Soviet standards. This unique study is structured according to the different phases of the Cold War and highlights the political aspects that determined C. O. S.'s fate.
Lenka Kratka focuses on two contradictory economic dimensions that C. O. S. had to engage with. Being part of the planned economy of a socialist state, it also dealt with companies in the capitalist West. Another paradoxical aspect of C. O. S. emerges from the memories of former Czechoslovak seamen, who experienced relative freedom when being aboard and strict communist regime control while at home with their families. Kratka's book offers fascinating insights into a neglected topic, using thus far untapped sources and building on primary research in oral history and personal memory.