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  • Published: 28 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141979991
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $22.99
Categories:

Last Days in Old Europe

Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89




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 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. 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.

  • Published: 28 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141979991
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $22.99
Categories:

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Praise for Last Days in Old Europe

If Oscar Wilde was correct that "history is gossip," then Bassett serves up a delicious cocktail of the very best kind-polite, learned, and insightful, merely leavened with touches of history and geopolitics, making one thirsty for more. ... A memoir can breathe life into history, and this is indeed Bassett's achievement as he breathes new life into shattered kingdoms, their now-moldering cast of characters, and all of the fascinating stories that would otherwise vanish with them.

Kevin J. McNamara, Kirk Centre

With these vivid, wistful memoirs, he joins the great chroniclers of Europe - the Prousts, Zweigs, Lampedusas, Leigh-Fermors and Bassanis

Economist

A charming, imaginative and elegantly written memoir of his adventures in central Europe

Victor Sebestyen, Evening Standard

A gem of a book ... a charming and engaging memoir of a world now gone

Clovis Meath Baker, Standpoint

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