cover image Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914

Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914

Frederic Morton. Scribner Book Company, $22.5 (385pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19143-0

In an astonishing work of literary energy and historical insight, the author of The Rothschilds brings us the backstage dynamics that preceded the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the deed that precipitated WW I. Morton captures both the elegant decadence of Emperor Franz Joseph's Vienna, and the potent spirits of those revolutionary thinkers who, all in Vienna at some time during the two years before the war, would blow away the past and create modernity. There were Stalin, Trotsky and Lenin; Freud and Jung; the glowering Hitler; Kafka, Wittgenstein and Karl Kraus; and a small band of Serb nationalists, one of whom fired the shot that catapulted Franz Joseph, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas into a war they didn't want but couldn't prevent, and that reduced them to puppets. (Nov.)