Thunder at twilight : Vienna, 1913/1914

by Frederic Morton

Paper Book, 2014






Boston, MA : Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2014.


Thunder at Twilight is a landmark of historical vision, drawing on hitherto untapped sources to illuminate two crucial years in the life of the extraordinary city of Vienna--and in the life of the twentieth century. It was during the carnival of 1913 that a young Stalin arrived on a mission that would launch him into the upper echelon of Russian revolutionaries, and it was here that he first collided with Trotsky. It was in Vienna that the failed artist Adolf Hitler kept daubing watercolors and spouting tirades at fellow drifters in a flophouse. Here Archduke Franz Ferdinand had a troubled audience with Emperor Franz Joseph--and soon the bullet that killed the archduke would set off the Great War that would kill ten million more. With luminous prose that has twice made him a finalist for the National Book Award, Frederic Morton evokes the opulent, elegant, incomparable sunset metropolis--Vienna on the brink of cataclysm.… (more)


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Physical description

x, 391 p.; 23 cm

User reviews

LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
In the end it peters out but this is an interesting look at 1913 to early 1914 in Vienna as war becomes likely and how the killing of one man led to it. There is also an echo of the nationalistic jingoism that led to the 1916 revolution in Ireland (and the Irish Question does crop up occasionally
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too). It is interesting to me how the early 20th Century had so many things happening that still have echoes. The mess that is Syria etc are parts of this too, the failure to create a good idea of nationalism that doesn't other people is still echoing through today.

Vienna was the hub of the society that led to this war, a place where philosophers and composers found inspiration and where there were a lot of various people, including Hitler, a place where change was coming fast and often being resisted. Ironically Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a man who was arguing for better treatment of Serbs, he was a man frustrated by some of the limits of his role but determined to do the best job he could with what he had.

We still haven't fixed some of the issues, maybe in this period of remembrance of the First World War we should rip the sticking plasters off some of these wounds and see what the root causes are and start to mend them properly.

I did check what happened to Archduke Franz Ferdinand's kids, they were taken in by a family member and at one stage, because the two boys spoke out about the Anchluss they were interned in Concentration Camps during World War II but survived.

A recommended read to understand the period, a companion book and sequel to A Nervous Splendour.
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x; 391


(69 ratings; 4.1)
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