From the Author
Why this book? Why a story that takes place in Vienna right before and during the First World War?
As far as the place, Vienna is a city where I lived and went to school in the 1970's and which has always had special place in my heart. There are some cities in the world that are so heavily steeped in history, art, culture, music and so many other attributes and qualities that they beg to be described in a book. Vienna is such a city, as is my own city of New Orleans. Vienna is a smorgasbord waiting to be explored, experienced and enjoyed over and over again; a pleasure I enjoyed immensely while researching and writing this historical novel. The end of Vienna's imperial era came in a long, fantastic burst of architecture, philosophy, medicine, art and music that have few equals in the history of mankind.
Then there is the time. There have been so many books written about the Second World War or the Cold War in Europe that I thought it might interest readers to go back a little further in history to a time that was not so overworked. The Edwardian era that ended in 1914 was a time not completely unlike our own when, for example,telephones and automobiles existed. Yet this time is nearly 100 years past; far enough to arouse curiosity and interest. It was a unique time in the 20th century when monarchy, aristocracy and many of the old ways of life of the 19th century were still intact but about to be swept away in the horror of industrialized warfare, nationalism and the beginning of the end of imperialism. In An American in Vienna, I wanted to explore and try to recreate the feeling of this time and place, traces of which are still visible to the tourist in Vienna to this day.
Above all, this is a story about people trying to live their lives in a time of radical change and even chaos. The main characters in An American in Vienna meet in unique circumstances and the love story that evolves against the background of this special time and place is inevitably affected by their environment. It is their story that gives the time and place its life force and, hopefully, recreates the feeling of what it was like to live then and there that a history book could never do.
From the Back Cover
Johann looked back again to ensure that the distance closed. He was incredulous
as he watched the archduke's car slow and turn right, off the quay,
into one of the narrow side streets. The following car also slowed and looked
as if it was going to turn as well.
"What ... is that idiot doing?" Johann shouted as he stood up in his seat,
looking back. "Stop the car!" he said. As the car came to a stop, the police
officers in the backseat were also staring back and preparing to leap out of
the car. Johann got out of the car first and turned to start running toward
the side street where he saw that the archduke's car was starting to back out.
Then he heard it.
There were two sharp pops, one after the other. Then Dubcek and several
police officers were jumping out of the rear car, chasing a man who was
running out of the side street with a pistol in his hand. They caught him,
but not before Johann saw him shove something in his mouth. Poison. The
police wrestled him to the ground as pedestrians began rushing toward the
spot, yelling and screaming.