Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more



on 26 September 2013
The years just before the outbreak of war were not the golden days of long hot summers, garden parties and peace. They were a period of turmoil in every area of human activity - human rights and the Suffragettes, new styles and movements in music and dance and writing, the determination of workers across Europe to receive fair compensation for their work. Discontent and revolution were in the air! Florian Illies links many strands from the epicentre in Vienna. A fascinating and moving read.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 9 March 2015
Interesting but far too much dragging in names from around Europe giving them a tenuous connection to Vienna where the book is set. It got boring and I did not bother to finish the book.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 27 September 2013
I first heard extracts of this book being read on BBC Radio 4 and was intrigued, so I bought the Kindle version. Unputdownable is the only way I can describe it. It stretches the definition of coincidence but as I was reading it during a recent trip to Switzerland and France, and finding myself in the small town of Martigny which has a museum with three Rodin bronzes, a number of Matisses and a wonderful selection of Cartier-Bresson photographs, reading 1913 seemed the logical and right thing to do. Easy and good prose style, but what, I would like to know, was edited out?!!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 8 March 2014
I never knew that ALDI, the inexpensive supermarket chain, is 101 years old, nor that Hitler and Stalin used the same Viennese public park for their daily stroll.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 5 October 2013
Like others I was attracted to the book during the week the BBC featured it on Radio 4. I haven't been disappointed though the choices and excerpts are thinner than I wished. It is anything but encycloepedic relying largely on press coverage of that year with a few intriguing insights such as the number of players who would make the 20th century who happened to be in Vienna at the same time. A worthy reminder though of how life could have continued in 1914 had there not been a war.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 September 2013
Fascinating book, very interesting to read. It tells you all about what happened just before the Great War (World War I).
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 January 2015
This non-fiction book follows the lives of many famous and infamous artists, poets, scientists and thinkers in Europe in 1913. It is a easy read that is easy to mistake for a work of fiction.
The prose is beautiful and the author is obviously inspired by the people he was writing about and this really reflects in his writing.
A wonderful book and well worth a read.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 5 January 2015
Great sequence of stories which the author manages to narrate in parallel, yet intertwine them through facts or through some spirited speculation. Particularly helpful to read a book like this on the kindle with direct access to the net, so that one can read up on background and context of less known public figures and personalities.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 24 September 2014
This was a book club choice, and not a great one. Here are my notes.

Overall:
What was the point of this book? It surveyed the lives of German Avant-Garde artists during 1913, but their foibles cannot be extrapolated to paint a picture of German or European society in the year before the First World War. The chief lesson that I took away from this book is that although Bohemian artists of the period rejected the morals of society it did not make them any happier. An odd idiosyncratic little book, that is occasionally entertaining but less than the sum of its parts.

The good
I enjoyed the structure of the book with its pithy little vignettes. The strengths of this book are in his scholarship, and intimate knowledge of the diaries and letters of his subjects. Some of the little factlets I enjoyed:
• Stalin, Hitler and Tito were all in Vienna in 1913 where they may conceivably have unknowingly bumped into one another
• Egon Schiele received a rejection letter from the director of a gallery stating that his latest painting was far too obscene for public display, but also stating that the director himself wished to buy it: as the author states that is a neat encapsulation of public and private morality
• There was already war in the Balkans in 1913 between Bulgaria and Serbia, which was not something I knew. However, this book is not about the political situation of the period, and this whole subject is only lightly explored.
• Adolf Hitler was a draft dodger who was sought after by the Austro-Hungarian military police
• Kaiser Wilhelm II shot 1,100 pheasants in 2 days. This seems barely plausible, is this credible? Has the author swallowed Royal propaganda?
• The whole section covering Franz Kafka’s letters to his fiancée, and his fiancee’s father, is hilarious. He wrote the worst love letters in history.

The bad
Why should I care about the tortured lives of these obscure German artists? He fails to make a compelling case for their relevance. Frankly much of the book went in one ear and came out the other. There is not enough discussion about the political and social concerns of both Germany and Europe. There is not enough about Europe outside Germany.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 10 October 2013
A very interesting interweaving of the lives of a host of famous people alive, and quite often meeting or "possibly" meeting, in one year 1913, just before the outbreak of WW1. You name them, they appear. Stalin, Hitler, Freud, Picasso etc. etc. the list goes on. Very well written and quite fascinating. Highly recommended
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)