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Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89
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Richard Bassett
Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89 by Richard Bassett at Abbey's Bookshop,

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

Richard Bassett


Allen Lane

European history;
Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000;
The Cold War


240 pages

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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.

By:   Richard Bassett
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 222mm,  Width: 144mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   346g
ISBN:   9780241014868
ISBN 10:   0241014867
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   February 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

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 * 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 * Financial Times * 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 * Evening Standard * 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

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