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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Radetzky March (Penguin Modern Classics)
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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 1999
Perhaps Joseph Roth is not the most widely known name in the literary world however his masterpiece, The Radetzky March, still commands an important place in 20th century German literature. The book was written during the early 1930's and it achieved widespread acclaim until it was supressed by the Nazis along with so many other works by Jewish writers, artists and so forth. The book charts the history of the Trotta family through three generations from 1859-1916. The decadence and impending collapse of the Austrian Empire are described in beautifully crafted and vivid language. A dark mood pervades the story - it is rather like watching a great river flow placidly towards an inevitable water fall. The characterisation is excellent and Roth contrives to draw out every possible detail as the book moves inexorably from scene to scene.
The novel can be appreciated as great literature and also as a valuable historical document. The Radetzky March is an important commentary on the fall of the Austrian Empire and how the legacy of those times still effects the mores Austrian society today.
This is a sound translation from German into English although some words could have been left alone eg ' Yessir for Jawohl '. This edition deserves to bring the Radetzky March to a much wider audience and can be thoroughly recommended.
KNC
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2000
Radezky March shows Joseph Roth, one of the most interesting Austrian writers of this century, at his best. His melancholic tale of the lost world that was Austria-Hungary never gets sentimental, nor revisionistic. Roth became a convinced monarchist by the end of his life as a means of resistance against Hitler, but this never clouds his vision. his prose is of singular simplicity in a time that loved the complicated and winded sentences. In Radezky March he surpassed himsself, a book that offers new insights every time it is read again. highly recomended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2010
Joseph Roth has managed to create a book which completely encapsulates the Hapsburg Empire within which the book is set. Tracking 3 generations of the type of family which led its life was moulded by the regime every word within the book seems to have been chosen by Roth to covey a sense of slow decline not just of the empire but of every principle by which the family lives its life.
The book focuses on the restraint adheared to by fathers and sons, feelings of longed for love and affection are constantly stored away by the sons and when they become fathers they themselves become that conservative restraint.
This book is many things, a historical piece of fiction, an argument of the pointlesness of war, a family biograophy. The ending of the novel is one of the most emotional and symbolic i have come across.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2013
The little known or appreciated history of the sad ending of the Hapsburg Empire will probably only appeal to few but the beauty and the tragedy of this book will touch many.
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on 29 January 2014
I had never heard of this 'classic' until I was listening to Barry Humphries' (yes, Dame Edna Everage et al.) book review on radio 4 while driving the length of the country one recent Christmas.
The story of a family, socially elevated by a chance occurrance on a European battle field. It gives an interesting view into lives, and what was important to the people, in the final period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Of course, they didn't know it a the time, that it was the seed bed of the tensions which burst out into the fury of the First World War.
The book left me melancholy. I usually read books for entertainment or information, so this was 'off base' for me. Well, I suppose, some of life is melancholy, it gives contrast to happier times.
I'm glad I have read it, I had made a solemn, silent promise to Barry Humphries' voice, of course he doesn't know that.
p.s. he is a learned man which belies his screen persona. But Barry, I wouldn't read it multpile times.
Read, soak it up, pass it on.
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on 14 May 2014
This is a most moving account of three generations of the Trotta family as they served their Kaiser in various ways.

A novel about the Austro-Hungarian Empire didn't immediately strike me as being very rivetting but I was wrong. You really feel for the characters and the book is not without humour. The scene prior to Jacques the old retainer's death is quite bizarre - a whirl of activity to the sound of a canary singing.

Military honour, family honour and personal guilt combine to stop the characters saying to each other what they really feel. This makes for supreme poignancy during the main father/son relationship. It also makes for some heavy drinking - a quite alarming amount in the case of the youngest Trotta.

My only cavil would be the liberal use of modern phrases in the translation. "Squeaky clean" was a stand-out. But it doesn't really matter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2013
It tells you a great deal about the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Interesting and sympathetic characters play out their lives against the background of great world events.
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on 21 April 2015
Magnificent storytelling but this edition spoiled by grating Americanisms e.g. Rittmaster Taittinnger "...You oughta stay home and watch out. Our kind don't let a wife go strollin' at midnight with lootenants!"
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on 18 March 2014
A compelling read about a family who rose accidentally into Hapsburg Empire officialdom. Oddly likeable characters with attitudes appropriate to the pre ww1 world.
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on 28 November 2014
One of the greatest books I have ever read. The story is tragic and the characters are drawn so brilliantly that their fate has a great and lasting effect.
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