Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste ’79, Vienna ’85, Prague ’89 by Richard Bassett - review by Adam Zamoyski

Adam Zamoyski

Waltz through Time

Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste ’79, Vienna ’85, Prague ’89


Allen Lane 207pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Richard Bassett is no ordinary journalist. An accomplished musician with a doctorate in architectural history, he is also a gourmet whose appetite is not limited to food and drink. Irrepressibly sociable, he has a remarkable talent for making friends with almost anyone he stumbles across. He is a dedicated observer of people and things, whom no detail escapes.

In this book, he takes the reader on what at times seems an aimless ramble around various locations in central Europe. Yet beneath the apparently frivolous surface lurks a purposeful and sober commentary on the changes that took place in the area during the final decade of the Soviet empire.

An unashamed romantic, Bassett was drawn to Trieste in 1979 by the urge to escape his parochial home in Bournemouth. An undemanding English teacher’s post in the much disputed and then somewhat neglected city gave him plenty of time to pursue his quest for the remains of another age, architectural,

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