Slovak-American Michael Bosák was the only Slovak national to have his signature on an American banknote (bottom right).
Design: Martin and Rudolf Bosák
Written by:Martin Bosák and Rudolf Bosák.
Translated from the original Slovak text by:Reid Deaver and Henrieta Deaver
Publisher: IBISH PUBLISH- ING spol. sr.o.,
Price: 250 crowns at Big Ben Bookshop.
At first glance, a book about a Slovak banker does not promise great reading excitement, unless you are a banker or have a PhD in finance. For us non-bankers, however, the apparently uninspiring theme and object of this book should not turn us off - this is an interesting story.
Michael Bosák, the Slovak-born subject of "An American Banker from Šariš", emigrated to the United States at the age of 17 to make his fortune without ever forgetting his native land. This Slovak-American success-story is chronicled in an illuminating biography written by his relatives Martin and Rudolf Bosák.
"If you want to live, you must keep moving," Bosák wrote in the publication Slovák in 1941. "The Slovak nation wants to live a Slovak life here: it does not want to become extinct."
Such a philosophy certainly seems to have sustained Bosák, who with little education ended up signing American 10 dollar banknotes and the Pittsburgh Pact, the 1918 agreement laying the foundations for the establishment of the first Czechoslovak Republic.
Bosák arrived in the US at age 17 with just one dollar in his pocket.
In the late 1890's, Bosák gradually began building his life as a successful entrepreneur. He got married to Slovak Zuzana Hudáková, started his own business selling wholesale spirits and established an inn in Olyphant, Pennsylvania. Bosák then went on to found banks in Scranton and create the Olyphant First National Bank where he was later elected president, hence his signature on the 10 dollar banknote.
But what perhaps is most interesting about this individual is his great love and attachment to his native Slovakia. A devout catholic, he funded Slovak church-renovations and had an audience with the pope in 1920. Having started Slovak newspapers in America, Bosák also established schools in Slovakia as well as in the states.
"Although we are, and will remain, loyal citizens of our new glorious country that we love, we also love the Slovak heritage bestowed on us by our fathers and mothers," Bosák said. "We want to preserve this heritage so that it will be as shining and outstanding as the heritage of other peoples and nations".
Surely this theme strikes a chord with the many first and second generation Slovaks scattered across the world. Furthermore, considering how little Slovak history is written in English, this book certainly fills a niche.
In order to educate young Slovaks about their history and ancestors, the book was recommended to all primary and secondary school students by the Slovak Minister of Education in 1998.
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14. Feb 2000 at 0:00 | Andrea Chalupová