I'm presently reading A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum (it's hard not to chuckle at the thought of Prof. Cherry Tree). Get the 2nd edition (2005). It's the best English-language history of Slovakia you can get. It is a bit of a slog to get through. It certainly falls in the category of great books that are hard to read.
However, I was quite interested to read "The Protestant faith spread from the mining centers to the landed gentry through the efforts of such people as the brother Peter and Nicholas Kostka, Francis Revay, and the Turzo, Radvansky, and Balas families." (p. 67) My great-great-grandmother was Zuzana Baláž. Her paternal grandparents were Juraj Baláž and Elisabetha Siska according to their sons' baptismal and marriage records. However, I can't find their marriage nor baptisms. In any case the similarity of Baláž and Balas is striking and since my ancestors were all Slovak Lutherans, I am now interested to find a genealogy of that particular family.
My great-aunt (a bit loony) thought Baláž (pronounced Balajz) was French and related to the writer Balzac. That's one family story I can definitely refute. I often wonder if I should get rid of that letter of hers that mentions it? Why not snuff out misinformation? And yet, it is a letter in her handwriting . . . .