There's something odd about Vienna and the Austrians. Don't just take my word for it – read virtually every English-language writer who has puzzled over the place and its people since the War. Graham Greene, Jan Morris, John Irving, Stephen Brook, Frederic Morton, Hella Pick, even the grand-daddy of Austrophile Englishmen, Gordon Brook-Shepherd, who devoted his life to the subject – all have concluded that all is, ahem, not quite right with the denizens of the Danubian lands, charming and gifted as many of them doubtless are. Now yet another author, Thomas Weyr, emerges from a fruitless battle to get to grips with this baffling, infuriating problem and confesses himself – in a tone of hurt, almost wounded, wonder – as defeated as those who went before him.
Weyr's central subject is a curiously neglected one: the history of the Austrian capital from its forced, though not unwilling, amalgamation with Hitler's Germany in the Anschluss of March 1938 to its occupation by the Red Army in 1945, a ruined city. This core is sandwiched between chapters looking back