Vienna poised at the end of the 19th century. A striking mix of political ferment, intellectual creativity, gaiety and despair. Resident are an astonishing collection of people whose work would later touch not only Vienna, but resound world-wide: Freud in psychiatry, Mahler in music, Hertzl with the Zionist movement and Klimt in art. And at the center of political and social life of the city is its bright hope for the coming new century - Crown Prince Rudolf. Through 1888 the pace in the city builds to a fever pitch as Vienna begins its season of Carnival. The other side of Vienna - hopeless poverty. A repressive regime. Catholic Vienna is rich in suicides - more per capita than other European cities. And not just simple suicides, but bizarre suicides staged with flair... The tightrope walker who leapt from a window with a rope attached to his neck, his note explaining "The rope was my life and the rope is my death." Morton tells us "he left a diary which consisted of paper scraps artfully tied together by a miniature rope." On January 30th, Vienna's bright hope faded when the Crown Prince Rudolf capped the suicide season by killing his mistress, Mary Vetsera, and then himself at his hunting lodge, Mayerling. The hopes for the new century were gone. And then, just four months later, on April 20th, 1889 the harbinger of the new century, Adolf Hitler, was born. And none of us were the same again
Part narrative, part drama/adventure, and part history lesson, Morton keeps the reader interested with vivid accounts of everyday life at the end of the Hapsburg reign. One receives a glimpse into the lives of the working class and elite, as they struggle with everything from the rising price of sugar to keeping up with the latest fashions. Most interesting was the exploration into the lives of famous Vienese such as Franz Joseph, Prince Rudolph, Klimt, Freud, Bruckner, and Wolf.s
A mesmerizing cover-to-cover experience that places the reader firmly in 19th-century Vienna. Cuts across rigid social strata, varieties of local peoples' experiences, current events and controversies, and human foibles in illuminating life and thought in a vibrant city over a century ago.