• Richard Bassett's spirited memoir of ten crucial years in recent European history is full of insights into the last days of two empires: the Habsburg, whose embers he savours beautifully, and the Communist, which he vividly shows us collapsing in front of him. The book is charming and funny, but it has a serious purpose, lightly worn, and a flavour all of its own.

    Anne Applebaum
  • With these vivid, wistful memoirs, he joins the great chroniclers of Europe - the Prousts, Zweigs, Lampedusas, Leigh-Fermors and Bassanis - and shows how some of the things those writers loved persisted as late as 1989.

  • Most memoirs by former journalists fail lamentably ... A vastly enjoyable exception to the rule is Richard Bassett's charming, imaginative and elegantly written memoir of his adventures in central Europe, for many years as a correspondent for The Times

    Victor Sebestyen, Evening Standard
  • As Soviet rule in central Europe collapsed in the late 1980s, newsworthy events, thrilling and poignant, abounded. Many were enriched by the diffident, elegant presence of Richard Bassett.

    Edward Lucas, Financial Times
  • In the 1980s Richard Bassett was "our man" in central Europe, and a high old time he appears to have had. This memoir of that period and those places is nicely crafted and would happily accompany a bottle or two of Holzpur 2004 spread over a couple of winter evenings.

    David Aaronovitch, The Times
  • This is a gem of a book ... a charming and engaging memoir of a world now gone.

    Clovis Meath Baker, Standpoint
  • Eyewitness anecdotes bring to life the complex criss-crossing history of Mitteleuropa ... a very well-furnished English mind, travelling through Europe at a transformative moment in its history with more than a bit of local knowledge

    Annette Kobak, Times Literary Supplement