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Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague

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Hardback
Published: February 2019
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BIC Subject: Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000
Published By: Penguin
 
Published: 05-Feb-2019
Format: Hardback, 224 pages, 0x0mm
ISBN: 9780241014868
Stock Code: 1014868
Product Description
 
Part memoir, part reflection, this book will bring 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. The second part moves to the darker, claustrophobic world of Vienna in 1985, where the atmosphere of the Cold War seemed to infiltrate every brick of a city hovering between two worlds, and even the most seemingly harmless of culinary establishments masked the game of espionage between east and west. In the third part, the story shifts to Prague in 1989 during the dramatic, intoxicating days of the velvet revolution and the long-awaited opening up of the east. Revolution, when it came was from above rather than below- Moscow was far more engaged with events during those turbulent November weeks than is generally appreciated. Throughout the book we encounter a diverse array of glittering characters- penniless aristocrats, charming gangsters, even Amazonian blondes in the service of eastern European spy agencies; fractious diplomatists and disinherited royalty supply a colourful supporting cast.With enormous charm, wit and insight, Richard Bassett recreates through his personal encounters the elegy, farce and tragedy of Central Europe in the last days of communism.Part memoir, part reflection, this book will bring 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. The second part moves to the darker, claustrophobic world of Vienna in 1985, where the atmosphere of the Cold War seemed to infiltrate every brick of a city hovering between two worlds, and even the most seemingly harmless of culinary establishments masked the game of espionage between east and west. In the third part, the story shifts to Prague in 1989 during the dramatic, intoxicating days of the velvet revolution and the long-awaited opening up of the east. Revolution, when it came was from above rather than below- Moscow was far more engaged with events during those turbulent November weeks than is generally appreciated. Throughout the book we encounter a diverse array of glittering characters- penniless aristocrats, charming gangsters, even Amazonian blondes in the service of eastern European spy agencies; fractious diplomatists and disinherited royalty supply a colourful supporting cast.With enormous charm, wit and insight, Richard Bassett recreates through his personal encounters the elegy, farce and tragedy of Central Europe in the last days of communism.
Richard Bassett is the author of the Penguin Guide to Central Europe. He was the Times correspondent in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1980s, after which he was responsible for corporate communications at one of the German landsbanks. His previous books include For God and Kaiser- The Imperial Austrian Army, 1619-1918 (Yale) and Hitler's Spy Chief- The Wilhelm Canaris Mystery (Orion). He once played first horn for a season with the Ljubljana Symphony Orchestra.
 
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