Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Confessions of a citizen (Egy polgár vallomásai) - Sándor Márai

Some chapters of this book read like an autobiography, others like a travel diary. And yet, the whole work is probably neither. It starts with the author's upbringing in a Magyar hometown, before WWI put an end to the Austro-Hungarian empire. After that Sándor Márai started to travel abroad. This is a summary of those years: a collection of impressions, experiences and encounters of a clever, refined, erudite and restless young man, moving around Europe between the two world wars. Tension is in the air. Excitement, desperation and extravagance as well.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Alexander, trilogy (1. Child of a dream, 2. The sands of Ammon, 3. The ends of the earth) - Valerio Massimo Manfredi

This trilogy is about the life of Alexander the Great - son of Philip II, king of Macedonia - who became the chief of the largest empire of the world when he was just 30.
Alexander spent the first years of his life in Macedonia, trained by his father’s officers and the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. He then joined his father’s army as the commander of the cavalry special corps. After his father’s death he was crowned king and promptly started a military campaign that would first lead him to control the whole of the Ancient Greek world, and eventually the Persian empire, including Egypt, Central Asia and the western part of the Indian subcontinent.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Hitler - Johann Chapoutot, Christian Ingrao

We all somehow have the impression that we know a lot about Adolf Hitler as a historical figure. Even those who haven’t read any books about Nazism or WWII have surely watched at least a documentary or a couple of war movies on those topics.
Yet, it turns out that most of the common ideas about this famous character are at the very least overestimated, at times even outright wrong. His fame as an evil genius is usually blown out of proportion (as far as the “genius” part of the expression is concerned), and his assumed fame as a great military tactician is as far from reality as it can possibly be.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Esperanto - Rodrigo Fresán


Esperanto is the name of a language that its creator thought could be used by everyone, but that isn’t actually used by anyone. And it is also the name of this novel’s main character. Esperanto is a 35-year-old troubled musician, who hasn’t written a song for a long time. A friend of his and her baby went desaparecidos during the Argentina military junta era, while the baby’s father, a revolutionary fighter, was killed in action. A few years after that tragic day Esperanto was somehow considered responsible for his own child’s death and the resulting mental breakdown of his partner.

Monday, October 2, 2023

1914 - Luciano Canfora

This is a brief essay about the sequence of events that, over the course of a few weeks, triggered what has come to be known as The Great War or World War I. The year is 1914. Europe has enjoyed almost fifty year of peace, marked by economic growth, scientific and technological progress and social reforms. There still are some unresolved issues, neglected tensions and unsatiated appetites in the air though, and the situation will come to a critical point in the summer of that year.