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Family history inspires reading

Saturday, March 29, 2014 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: This week's Page Turner interview is with Irv Adler, who is retired from being a sales executive with a British company.

“I've been doing a lot of reading about Vienna the last six months. I started doing a family history shortly after retiring and so I'm reading related materials. Both sides of my family were from Vienna, and they were there until they had to leave — those who could — between 1938 and 1939 when the Nazi persecution began. I know some went to England, some came here to America, and I'm learning where others went in my search for relatives.

“A lot of books relate to what happened right after the Anschluss ( the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany). Everybody should read 'The Hare with Amber Eyes.' It is very powerful. It describes the life of a well-to-do acting family based in Vienna and what happened to the family after the Anschluss. The author is Edmund de Waal. It is quite a popular book, written in England.

“Another very good book is 'Last Waltz in Vienna,' and it's written by George Clare. Anyone would find it interesting reading, and it is easy to read. It's an excellent picture of what life was life prior to the Nazi occupation and how things changed afterward. Both these books read like novels, but they're true stories.

“Lighter than those are books by Frank Tallis. He has written murder mysteries set in Vienna in the 'fin de siecle,' the beginning of the 20th century. There is a whole series — six books. The key character is Max Liebermann, a disciple of Sigmund Freud, a medical doctor focusing on psychological evaluations.

“Max, the protagonist, works with the Vienna police department to solve murders. The first book is 'A Death in Vienna.' I'm about one-third of the way into the second, 'Vienna Blood.' The books are extremely well written, and they are interesting mysteries, but they are also very good pictures of what life was like in the late 1890s and early 1900s. It was a very good time to live in Vienna.The author does show the seedier side of life as he provides insights into what life was like. These books are really fun to read.

“I do have a Kindle, but I prefer hard copy while doing research and for cross-reference. This is how I grew up. So I do read 'real' books and I do download others. The first two books by Frank Tallis are available in paperback. His next four are available as e-books. By the way, he has won several awards.”