March 30, 2017


Ten Conservative Books Revisited (GERALD J. RUSSELLO, University Bookman)

1. Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March. In his list, Kirk abjured fiction, although in passing he recommended some authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Radetzky March covers the period leading up to the dissolution of the old European Order before, and as a result of, World War I. Like Giuseppe Lampedusa's The Leopard, Roth is clear-eyed about the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its many flaws, but equally clear-eyed about what he calls the "bestial" promise of an order that had ripped aside its traditions.

2. Patrick Leigh-Fermor, A Time for Gifts. Leigh-Fermor, who died recently, was in some sense the highest product of the tradition whose destruction Roth lamented. A polymath, courageous soldier (he led a British commando unit in occupied Crete during World War II), and elegant writer, Leigh-Fermor as a young man walked through Europe to Constantinople, just as Nazism was rising on the Continent. This book, the first volume of two covering the journey, describes a pre-Internet, pre-EU Europe of deeply local customs and perspectives, a collage of nations that is almost impossible for us to imagine; almost, because Leigh-Fermor's prose makes such imagination possible.

And if you enjoy these remembrances of pre-war Middle Europe, continue on to:

'The Transylvanian Trilogy,' by Miklós Bánffy (reviewed by Dennis Drabelle December 10, 2013, Washington Post)


The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (reviewed by Roger Cohen SEPT. 3, 2011, NY Times)

Posted by at March 30, 2017 5:26 AM