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This review is from: 1913: The Year before the Storm (Hardcover)
This is not a history reference book or a novel. It is a diary of 1913, presented as a series of footnotes, asides, gossip and waggish speculation. The personal & professional lives of everyone from Picasso to Kafka, Mann (Heinrich) to Mann (Thomas), via Duchamp, Else Lasker-Schuler, Freud and Jung get a thorough ventilation - but national issues are not left out. A well written counterpoint, if a bit too "chatty" at times, to the dry, pre-war dominoes history that was forced upon us English speakers at school... And a reminder of how the art world (German speakers in particular) was to be decimated and scattered by that war. It presents interesting contrasts: Some of those mentioned are starving in garrets while others are at the height of their fame. Twentysomething Hitler is living as a (sortof) itinerant painter. Teto drives racing cars. Thirtysomething Stalin is (sortof) working on an essay. Though it focuses mostly on Paris, Berlin and Vienna every city from Chicago to Moscow gets at least a mention (The South Pole even gets in there). It seems it was a very busy year though the book never feels "crammed". The pace, moments of levity and pathos give, by turns, an absurdly logical character and a sense of glowering immanence to the great convulsion that is soon to come. Well, well worth reading. Best read in sequence the first time around and then dipped into here and there (as a throat clearer) between novels or (for men) "auf der klo" reading. With or without it's modish dust jacket a handsome book.