Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89 (Paperback)
  • Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89 (Paperback)
zoom

Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89 (Paperback)

(author)
1 Review Sign in to write a review
£9.99
Paperback 224 Pages / Published: 27/02/2020
  • 10+ in stock

Available

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect
Waterstones Says

Part memoir, part reflection, this book brings to life central Europe during the last ten years of the Cold War. It begins in Trieste in 1979 where the embers of the Habsburg Empire still burnt brightly, and then moves to the darker, claustrophobic world of Vienna in 1985. It recreates the farce and tragedy of the last days of communism.

The final decade of the Cold War, through the eyes of a laconic and elegant observer

In 1979 Richard Bassett set out on a series of adventures and encounters in central Europe which allowed him to savour the last embers of the cosmopolitan old Hapsburg lands and gave him a ringside seat at the fall of another ancien regime, that of communist rule. From Trieste to Prague and Vienna to Warsaw, fading aristocrats, charming gangsters, fractious diplomats and glamorous informants provided him with an unexpected counterpoint to the austerities of life along the Iron Curtain, first as a professional musician and then as a foreign correspondent.

The book shows us familiar events and places from unusual vantage points: dilapidated mansions and boarding-houses, train carriages and cafes, where the game of espionage between east and west is often set.

There are unexpected encounters with Shirley Temple, Fitzroy Maclean, Lech Walesa and the last Empress of Austria. Bassett finds himself at the funeral of King Nicola of Montenegro in Cetinje, plays bridge with the last man alive to have been decorated by the Austrian Emperor Franz-Josef and watches the KGB representative in Prague bestowing the last rites on the Soviet empire in Europe.

Music and painting, architecture and landscape, food and wine, friendship and history run through the book. The author is lucky, observant and leans romantically towards the values of an older age. He brilliantly conjures the time, the people he meets, and Mitteleuropa in one of the pivotal decades of its history.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780141979991
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 168 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 13 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'Richard Bassett's spirited memoir of ten crucial years in recent European history is full of insights into the last days of two empires: the Habsburg, whose embers he savours beautifully, and the Communist, which he vividly shows us collapsing in front of him. The book is charming and funny, but it has a serious purpose, lightly worn, and a flavour all of its own.' - Anne Applebaum

'Most memoirs by former journalists fail lamentably ... A vastly enjoyable exception to the rule is Richard Bassett's charming, imaginative and elegantly written memoir of his adventures in central Europe, for many years as a correspondent for The Times.' - Victor Sebestyen, The Evening Standard

'As Soviet rule in central Europe collapsed in the late 1980s, newsworthy events, thrilling and poignant, abounded. Many were enriched by the diffident, elegant presence of Richard Bassett.' - Edward Lucas, The Financial Times

'In the 1980s Richard Bassett was "our man" in central Europe, and a high old time he appears to have had. This memoir of that period and those places is nicely crafted and would happily accompany a bottle or two of Holzpur 2004 spread over a couple of winter evenings.' - David Aaronovitch, The Times

You may also be interested in...

The Power of Geography
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
Empireland
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
River Kings
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
Brothers in Arms
Added to basket
£25.00
Hardback
The White Ship
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
Black Gold
Added to basket
£25.00   £21.99
Hardback
Pandora's Jar
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
The Shortest History of England
Added to basket
£8.99   £7.49
Paperback
Agent Sonya
Added to basket
£8.99   £7.49
Paperback
Powers and Thrones
Added to basket
£25.00   £21.99
Hardback
Putin's People
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
Lancaster
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
Scoff
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
The Ratline
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
The Good Germans
Added to basket
£9.99   £8.49
Paperback
We Don't Know Ourselves
Added to basket
£25.00   £21.99
Hardback
Black Spartacus
Added to basket
£10.99   £9.49
Paperback
The Story of the World in 100 Moments
Added to basket
The oaks

“Before the wall came down...”

Charming, old fashioned and beautifully written as you would expect from a 1980s Times Europe correspondent who had turned up at the Times office asking for the job. Oh the confidence of the Oxbridge crowd. Unlike... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 1

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.