The final decade of the Cold War, through the eyes of a laconic and elegant observer.
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.
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
With these vivid, wistful memoirs, he joins the great chroniclers of Europe - the Prousts, Zweigs, Lampedusas, Leigh-Fermors and Bassanis - and shows how some of the things those writers loved persisted as late as 1989. * Economist *
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 *
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 *
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 *
This is a gem of a book ... a charming and engaging memoir of a world now gone. -- Clovis Meath Baker * Standpoint *
Eyewitness anecdotes bring to life the complex criss-crossing history of Mitteleuropa ... a very well-furnished English mind, travelling through Europe at a transformative moment in its history with more than a bit of local knowledge -- Annette Kobak * Times Literary Supplement *