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Umberto Eco’s biggest book since The Name of the Rose - a brilliant historical novel, which has already sold over a million copies in Europe

Nineteenth-century Europe, from Turin to Prague to Paris, abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian priests are strangled with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate black masses by night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat.

But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay just one man? What if that evil genius created the most infamous document of all?

Reviews

[This] magnificent new novel... marks a return to the heady mixture of absorbing ideas and down-and-dirty historical detail that made The Name of the Rose such an international bestseller in the 1980's

Adam Lively, Sunday Times

This is a great mystery novel about paranoia, prejudice and forgery... We gain access to a world of city streets, strange anecdotes, gourmet menus, and conspiratorial minds... Eco’s best novel since The Name of the Rose

Independent

A smartly entertaining fin-de-siècle romp

Independent

An extremely readable narrative of betrayal, terrorism, murder and gourmadising... The great trick Eco pulls off here is to combine the most chilling of ideas - the origin of a hoax that led to genocide - with, elsewhere in the novel, an often funny lightness of touch... In other hands, this novel could have been grim. But you end up feeling, despite all the darkness, that Eco is one of literature's great optimists

Sinclair Mckay, Daily Telegraph

Imagine Dan Brown adorned with a PhD: that's Umberto Eco

Observer

Erudite and pop, sinister and passionate... A work destined to become a classic

La Repubblica

The Prague Cemetery, snakes along an underground trail that twists through the enlightened heresies and bigoted gospels respectively propagated by Freemasons and Illuminati, Jesuits and Jew-baiters, before hinting at an ideological conspiracy that underlines the deceits of contemporary politics

Observer

Perhaps history's first and biggest conspiracy theory

John Harding, Daily Mail

Aided by a translation (from Richard Dixon) that tucks into Eco’s rich period pastiche with relish, the story weaves a fictional master of mischief into actual events… Highly enjoyable in its cunning twists

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Has latterly been dubbed the thinking person's Da Vinci Code. But Eco is at home in history in a way that Dan Brown is not... Eco has a sure grasp not only of historical fact but of a period's literature. He's a dab hand at intertextuality... His intent in exposing the moment that lies at the origin of modern anti-Semitism seems to be to show how fictions can have factual consequences. Contemporary spin-doctors take note. Lies, particularly if they follow the pattern of paranoid conspiracies and create an enemy, can have dire effects... Eco is a comic master and, in his 80th year, his irreverent intelligence, if not always his plotting or scabrous taste, remains bracing

Lisa Appignanesi, Independent

There is a great deal of pleasure to be taken in the games Eco plays and in the serious thinking about history and stories that lies beneath them

Robert Gordon, Times Literary Supplement

An extremely readable narrative of betrayal, terrorism, murder… chilling

Daily Telegraph

A novel that takes the power of fakery in history to new heights...This work of teasing historical pseudo-reconstruction combines an intriguing philosophy of history with an elaborate set of reflections on narrative and the nature of fiction.

Times Literary Supplement

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099555971

    July 1, 2012

    Vintage

    576 pages

    RRP $22.99

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  • EBook

    9781446468289

    November 3, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    576 pages

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