The Escape of Sigmund Freud

David Cohen. Overlook, $28.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59020-673-7
Only a small part of this book is about 82-year-old Sigmund Freud’s escape from Vienna to London in June 1938, but that part is fascinating. Psychologist, filmmaker, and writer Cohen (Psychologists on Psychology) relates how Freud was able to leave the city with the extensive help of an Austrian Nazi official, Anton Sauerwald, who saved Freud’s son Martin from almost certain arrest and supervised the packing of 1,000 pieces of art from Freud’s residence. Aside from this story, Cohen briefly offers a biography of Freud and his extended family, including such little-known material as the involvement of his uncle and two half-brothers in a criminal conspiracy. The author also provides useful summaries of Freud’s last three books, including Moses and Monotheism. Cohen’s frequent digressions are amusing, as when he quotes E.B. White’s parodies of Freud, and sometimes a bit distasteful, as when he notes, “Freud kept two urine bottles by his desk and was clearly in the habit of peeing into them.” Occasionally, too, Cohen lapses into clichés (“Freud and Jung were... like yin and yang, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper”). Generally, however, Cohen’s book is informative, entertaining, and sometimes gripping. Agent: Sonia Land, Sheil Land Associates.(May)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2012
Release date: 03/29/2012
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