• If Oscar Wilde was correct that "history is gossip," then Bassett serves up a delicious cocktail of the very best kind-polite, learned, and insightful, merely leavened with touches of history and geopolitics, making one thirsty for more. ... A memoir can breathe life into history, and this is indeed Bassett's achievement as he breathes new life into shattered kingdoms, their now-moldering cast of characters, and all of the fascinating stories that would otherwise vanish with them.

    Kevin J. McNamara, Kirk Centre
  • 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