Cover image for Last stop Vienna : a novel
Last stop Vienna : a novel
Nagorski, Andrew.
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2003]

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x, 269 pages ; 24 cm
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Germany in the 1920s, in the early days of Hitler and the Nazi party, was a country plunging into darkness and violence. Andrew Nagorski has written the story of a doomed generation, of evil, hopelessness, sexual perversion and murder that set the stage for the ultimate destruction of a society. But in a stunning denouement, a young Nazi brownshirt, acting out of passion and revenge, changes the course of history. Karl Naumann, a German teenager who has lost his father and brother in World War I, has tried to find a place in a defeated, demoralized and anarchic Berlin. Impressed by the returning veterans who refuse to lay down their arms and fight running battles with communist revolutionaries, and alone and adrift on the streets, he is recruited to their cause and camaraderie. He is sent to Munich, where he works his way up the ranks to become one of Adolf Hitler's bodyguards, a storm trooper. The new movement is increasingly split between Hitler and rival leaders, including Karl's mentor, Otto Strasser, a real-life Nazi activist. As the schism within the party widens, the battles intensify and Hitler asserts his dominance, Karl must determine where his loyalty lies. He has fallen in love with a nurse, Sabine, whom he marries, but he is infatuated with Hitler's young niece, Geli Raubal, who is caught up in a deeply disturbing sexual relationship with her uncle. Obsessed by the seductive and elusive Geli, Karl is startled by what he sees through her of the dark core of Hitler's personality. When Geli finally summons up the courage to leave her uncle, it is too late. Soon after, she is found dead in their apartment, a gun in her hand, allegedly a suicide. Karl believes that Hitler has murdered her. He follows him to Geli's grave in Vienna where their final confrontation takes place. Last Stop Vienna presents a chilling and suspenseful look at what might have been.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Two first novels present male protagonists who witness how political power is gained and exercised in less-than-noble and certainly less-than-democratic fashion, and in their way, they take power into their own hands. Iggulden's debut casts authentically detailed light on the early years of the great Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar. Most of what people know about Caesar revolves around his brilliant work to extend the borders of the Roman republic and his horrible death by stabbing in the Roman senate. This novel, however, accords us an expansive look at Caesar as a young boy. Born into a patrician family, Caesar was catapulted into managing the family estate at an early age, when his father was killed during a slave revolt. The author focuses on Caesar's training for battle--a typical endeavor for his age and ilk. At the same time, he absorbed the fundamentals of the intricacies of Roman politics, into which, by virtue of being the nephew of the powerful consul Marius, Caesar was bound to become involved. The story ends with Caesar's departure from Rome for a stint in the army in the provinces. Nagorski is a senior editor at Newsweek International and the author of two nonfiction books. His first novel evokes, with sharp tension, Germany in the 1920s--specifically, the burgeoning growth and appeal of the Nazi Party. At the time, Germany was beaten down by World War I and reparations, and young Berliner Karl Naumann is not unusual in his ennui and anger. His leanings lead him to Munich, where he becomes a member of Hitler's storm troopers. Karl marries, but he also becomes involved with Hitler's niece, Geli, and her death--presumed by Karl to be at the hands of her rising-star uncle--prompts him to take history into his hands. Nagorski's novel then evolves into a very intriguing what-if tale. For other first novels dealing with various aspects of power--not limited to political power--see the Read-alikes column on the opposite page. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nagorski imagines a fascinating alternate ending to Adolf Hitler's ill-fated affair with his niece, Geli, in this fast-moving, riveting debut novel about a naive young stormtrooper who inadvertently becomes the fuhrer's romantic rival. After losing his brother in WWI, Karl Naumann joins the fledgling vigilante group that eventually becomes Hitler's notorious brownshirts. Despite his delicate appearance, Naumann instantly takes to the violence of the job. Working with Hitler's pamphlet publisher, Otto Strasser, Naumann rises through the ranks, and shortly after meeting Hitler, finds himself chaperoning Hitler's precocious teenage niece during a couple of brief outings. Naumann responds to Geli's playful flirtation; before long he finds himself infatuated, despite his recent marriage. The affair seems innocuous, but when Hitler begins to monopolize his young niece's attention with his twisted erotic demands, Naumann realizes that his life and Geli's are in danger. Naumann's interior monologues can be stiff ("my return to Berlin was not at all as I had envisaged it"), but Nagorski paints a complex portrait of a vengeful young man incapable of resisting his own base impulses, yet ultimately guided by a strong sense of compassion and justice. A former Berlin bureau chief for Newsweek, Nagorski captures the city faithfully, convincingly imagining the to and fro of everyday life in the 1920s. The book offers a fascinating account of the power struggles between Hitler and rival Nazi leaders, but focuses primarily on the small events and individual actions that lay the foundation for Nazi rule. Agent, Marshall Klein. (Jan.) Forecast: Nagorski's reputation as a journalist-he is the author of two nonfiction titles (The Birth of Freedom; Reluctant Farewell) and the recipient of two Overseas Press Club awards-should whet interest in his fiction debut. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved