ChicagoBoyz Book Recommendation Seconded

Whenever I need new reading material I typically just scan the book notes here at ChicagoBoyz to get suggestions. Lex Green made a recommendation of “The World of Yesterday” by Stefan Zweig at this post.

I will have to second Lex’s thoughts and just come out and say it. This is one of the very best books that I have ever read. I read the whole thing in one weekend and could hardly put it down.

Not only is the subject matter of great interest and importance, Zweig’s writing is so beautiful it almost brings one to tears. The last paragraph hits very hard – moreso when you know how Zweig’s story ended.

So thanks to Lex for the recommendation and I will heartily second it. There are a lot of other great books in our book notes section here at ChicagoBoyz so if you are out of ideas, hit it.

9 thoughts on “ChicagoBoyz Book Recommendation Seconded”

  1. Dude. There are so many great books I have learned about through this site. We have a very literate bunch here.

    Glad you liked the Zweig as much as I did.

  2. Lex – I have been reading about the world wars practically since I have been able to read and it is amazing that I had never even heard of the guy until now! So many books, such little time.

  3. Dan — The thing I do is keep a list of books that I see referenced. I got Zweig from Jacques Barzun. But, yes, there are too many books and too little time. Hence the need to find and read the best ones possible. And it is always surprising to find a good one you never heard of. But they are out there. If you like that era, two other books I highly recommend are Gregor von Rezzori, The Snows of Yesteryear (a memoir) and Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March (a novel). I still need to read Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities.

    Madhu — IMDB confirms that “Letter from an Unknown Woman” is based on the novel by Stefan Zweig. I have only read two books by Zweig, “The World of Yesterday” and “Joseph Fouche: Portrait of a Politician.” The Fouche book was good. I have not read any of his fiction.

  4. Thanks Lex for the recommends, I am intensely interested in social histories of that time period. It seems to me that the unraveling of all humanity happened between 1900 and 1914 and we never went back – trying to understand that period from people who lived it is perhaps one of the best ways (imho) to try to piece the whole thing together. Like Zweig said, before then, he traveled the world with no passport, no papers, no ID. Afterward, we have chaos and mountains of paperwork.

  5. “…before then, he traveled the world with no passport, no papers, no ID….”

    The first volume of Herbert Hoover’s Memoirs is excellent on this period. In an earlier post — entitled So, How Would You Teach a Course on World War I? — I said this about it:

    The second class would be about the British Empire and the world trading order that existed at the time, and the fact that up to 1914 we were experiencing “Globalization I”, and that the war destroyed all that. The reading I would give them for that would be the two chapters from Herbert Hoover’s memoirs, first volume Years of Adventure, the one about the coming of war, and the next one about the Americans in London dealing with the thousands of people stuck in Europe due to the war. These chapters are beautifully and simply written, and the kids would be able to understand them Hoover views the scene from a senior leadership position in the pre-1914 globalized world economy, and what it looked like as that world order went to pieces.

    Another oldie that is good on the period is Before the Mast and After: The Autobiography of a Sailor and Shipowner, by Walter Runciman (1924). Runcimam went to sea at a young age on sailing ships. Like Hoover, he started out with nothing. Runciman ended up owning steamship line with dozens of ships fifty years later. He lived through the transition from sail to steam. The book will be out of copyright and on Google for free in two years.

  6. I had nearly forgotten about the book from its earlier recommendation, now I’ve ordered it.

    Lex, I’m sending my children to you instead of college.

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