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A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 Paperback – October 30, 1980
"Hitler's Forgotten Children" by Ingrid von Oelhafen
The Lebensborn program abducted as many as half a million children from across Europe. Through a process called Germanization, they were to become the next generation of the Aryan master race in the second phase of the Final Solution. Hitler's Forgotten Children is both a harrowing personal memoir and a devastating investigation into the awful crimes and monstrous scope of the Lebensborn program. Learn more | See related books
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Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
"As lush, beguiling, and charming as an emperor's waltz"
"1888/1889 is my favorite year in the life of 'the imperial City,' and Frederic Morton's A Nervous Splendor is my favorite book about Vienna."
John Irving, author of The World According to Garp
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Top Customer Reviews
Focusing on Crown Prince Rudolf as romantic hero, liberal thinker, and sensitive social reformer, Morton selects details which show Rudolf's resentment of his figurehead position, his lack of power to effect change, and his fears for the future of the monarchy. He is presented as a modern man trying to live within a fusty and stultifying environment. Also chafing against limitations on their creativity are artist Gustave Klimt, writers Arthur Schnitzler and Theodor Herzl, musicians Arnold Schonberg, Gustav Mahler, and Anton Bruckner, and psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud, whose detailed stories of frustration run parallel with that of the Crown Prince and enhance it. Only Baroness Mary Vetsera, age 17 and full of life, is able to escape the bonds of Viennese "correctness," attracting Rudolf, having a brief affair with him, and eventually succumbing with him in a suicide pact at Mayerling.
Morton's scholarship and care for detail are obvious throughout, but he goes far beyond most other historians in his ability to involve the reader and make him empathize with the long-dead people in his book. In his hands the events at Mayerling become understandable--though no less sad. One can only wonder how history might have changed if Rudolf had been a partner with his father, Emperor Franz Joseph, rather than a powerless figurehead. Mary Whipple
Morton focuses his analysis around the death by suicide pact of Kronprinz Rudolph, heir to the Hapsburg empire. The event is intrinsically intriging; Rudolph's suicide and it's aftermath cover an emotional landscape that ranges from the tragic to the bizarre and goulish.
Vignettes in the life of important cultural figures, including Freud, Herzl, Klimt, Brahms, Bruckner, Schnitzler and Mahler, dramatize the trend toward the dissolution of conservatism and the collapse of upper classs domination.
A NERVOUS SPLENDOR is entertaining, informative and well written. Morton's style of writting is sophisticated, elegant and, yet, in a sense that is hard to define, unusual and piquant.
This is highly recommended for people who have enjoyed similar works such as Roger Shattuck's THE BANQUET YEARS. While Morton's narrative genuinely suffers from the perfect 20/20 hindsight take on history (not only, in his account, is the Empire doomed, but even the Emperor knows at the back of his mind that the Empire is doomed, which seems highly unlikely), and his overwillingness to tell us exactly what famous people were thinking at given moments (when there is no way he could know), the book is informative, exciting, and intelligent.
The book is a snapshot of a year in the life of an imperial city as lived by disparate Viennese (including Freud, Klimt, Bruckner, Brahms, as well as Mary Vestera, "The Bird King," and the disturbed Crown Prince Rudolph).
Morton focuses heavily on Rudolph's frustrated life and its bizarre end in the murder/suicide pact with the beautiful socialite, Mary Vestera. Rudolph is a frustrated liberal confined to carrying out increasingly meaningless imperial functions -- making the rounds at receptions, smiling for official portraits, and otherwise participating in the empty pageantry that is life in the Habsburg Court and aristocratic Vienna. His democratic leanings are thwarted by his father, the omnipresent Emperor Franz Joseph, and his father's retinue. To make matters worse, Rudolph is trapped in a loveless marriage. Enter Mary Vestera, the beautiful Baronness who has set her sights on Rudolph. Her slavish devotion to the Crown Prince, and his desperate frustration with life, culminated in a gruesome(and scandalous) end at Rudolph's hunting lodge, Mayerling. The author portrays this sad story as a reflection of the malaise that infected the imperial city as the Austro-Hungarian Empire moved unknowingly toward its own demise.
"A Nervous Splendor" is one of those histories that reads like a novel. Frederic Morton utilizes firsthand accounts, anecdotal stories and wonderfully descriptive writing to bring to life a society long gone.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fin de siècle Vienna is one of the more glamorized periods in European history. Rightly so. This was the period where Klimt was painting, Freud began to analyze the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Greg Polansky
This book pulls together all the threads, cultural, political, social, and more, and ties them all together in a neat bow, yet reads like a novel. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Yvonne Bernardo
Really fascinating book with a fun and lively style that brings to life historical figures like Freud and presents them to you as if you were watching their lives unravel in front... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rhonda
This is hardly great literature, but if you are either planning to visit Vienna or have recently done so, it provides fascinating background information for people and places that... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was a great book and very well researched.I loved the pictures included. Although it only covered one year it was very informative about the Vienna of the time as well as... Read morePublished 5 months ago by L. Johns
A fascinating imaginary inside version of so many important historical figures, at a pivotal time for central Europe.Published 5 months ago by Forever Learning