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The Prague Cemetery [Hardcover]

Umberto Eco , Richard Dixon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 8 2011
Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. Conspiracies rule history. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies, both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created the world’s most infamous document?   Umberto Eco takes his readers on a remarkable journey through the underbelly of world-shattering events. Here is Eco at his most exciting, a book immediately hailed as a masterpiece.

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Review

"[Eco's] latest takes that longtime thriller darling, the conspiracy theory, and turns it into something grander...Sold to 40 countries and said to be controversial; a speed-read with smarts." -- Library Journal, Pre-Pub Alert, "My Picks"

"A whirlwind tour of conspiracy and political intrigue...this dark tale is delightfully embellished with sophisticated and playful commentary on, among other things, Freud, metafiction, and the challenges of historiography." -- Booklist

"Intriguing, hilarious....a tale by a master." -- Publishers Weekly boxed review "He's got a humdinger in this new high-level whodunit...a perplexing, multilayered, attention-holding mystery." -- Kirkus, starred "I find this book fascinating, perhaps the best Eco has written in years. Eco takes on conspiracy theories in the feverish political activism of nineteenth-century Europe--freemasonry, the Italian Risorgimento, the Paris Commune, and above all the forgery of the slanderous The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. What if there were a single mastermind behind all these conspiracies? It's already a bestseller in Italy, and I can't get enough of it!" -- Huffington Post "The Prague Cemetery is vintage Eco….Eco, the star bookworm of our times, has used his genius for excavating libraries to construct a semifictional narrative of how The Protocols might have evolved….The Prague Cemetery is at once entertainment, education, and warning. As usual, Eco has enjoyed himself. The narrative is vivid, shocking, sometimes baffling. It’s loaded ….with learned Eco disquisitions on bomb-making, the Paris sewers, the history of the Commune, the taxonomical distinctions between ladies on the game (grisettes, cocottes, biches, lorettes, and courtesans), early theories of brain function, and so forth. But as a genealogy showing how The Protocols evolved from the nightmares bequeathed to Europe by medieval heresy-hunting (the subject of The Name of the Rose), the book is a triumph." -- New York Review of Books

From the Back Cover

Chloe Mason’s childhood memories consist of seemingly endless hospital stays. Now all grown up and healthy, her determination to fill the gaping holes in her past leads her to her long-lost brother, Harry . . . which brings Harry’s friend and business partner, Mike Keillor, crashing into her life and her heart.

Former Marine Force Recon sniper and SWAT officer—a martial arts expert and owner of a successful security company—Mike can deal coolly and efficiently with any threat . . . until he’s blindsided by something he never expected: fierce, fiery passion . . . and love.

But when Chloe inadvertently crosses the Russian mob, Mike realizes that evil is darkening his world once again. He has already lost his family; he will not lose the woman who enflames him, who makes him whole. Failure is not an option.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but interesting read. Nov. 8 2011
By Jessica Strider TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Translated from Italian by Richard Dixon

Pros: fascinating look at a period of history largely ignored by modern readers, thought provoking

Cons: lots of politically incorrect and thereby uncomfortable speeches, vivid depiction of a black mass, unlikable protagonist

Simone Simonini's personal motto is, Odi ergo sum. I hate, therefore I am. An Italian living in Paris, Simonini hates: the Germans, the French, the Italians, women, Jesuits, and most importantly, the Jews. Which is why, after years of forging documents and fermenting chaos for various government agencies, he has created his masterpiece - a document that will turn the nations of the world against the Jews.

The novel begins with Simonini having lost his memory. He starts a diary in order to remember who he is, starting with his youth. Abbe Dalla Piccola, living in an adjoining apartment, has also lost his memory, but seems to know what happened during segments of Simonini's past, adding his own notes to Simonini's writings. Are they the same person? Or did Simonini merely confess these actions to the abbot?

Simonini is not a likable protagonist, and the book is an uncomfortable read, both due to Simonini's extremely vitriolic hate speeches (against many groups but there's more anti-semitic sentiment than others) as well as for a detailed description of a black mass (modified Latin and all). The second chapter of the book serves as a litmus test for the rest, shocking the reader and daring you to read on. If you can get past chapter 2 you'll have read the worst - though not the only - hate speeches in the book.

The book takes place during the late 1800s, when racist sentiments were the norm.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clever Parody of Evil May 16 2012
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This latest 'picturesque' novel by Umberto Eco - stories that portray rogue characters - is not all that it appears to be. The time and setting is Europe in the later part of the 19th century, in the grip of a fresh wave of revolutionary fervour that is threatening to shake the very foundations of traditional authority, whether it be the Holy See, Napoleon's Second Empire, jingoistic Prussia, or the fledgling Italian states on the verge of unification. Eco introduces us to a protagonist named Captain Simonini who delights in being the bugbear or anti-hero who sows dissent, plots destruction, and spreads lies, all under the artful control of the author himself as narrator or puppeteer. Like the Anti-Christ of end times, this man is the evil architect of all that modern society is prepared to do to preserve power: gossip, murder, libel, slander, rape, theft, deceit, prejudice, heresy, blasphemy and fantasy. As the incarnation of all that evil in society, Simonini manages to work under the radar to destroy life in order to preserve it. Following Simonini around on his evil errands, we quickly realize that his calling in life, as an agent-provocateur for hire by the Vatican and other states, has been to create chaos across the continent in the name of ecumenical authority. Historically, this is the period of last hurrah for the church as the modern state is about to become a reality. While everyone is at each other's throats in the defence of their territory, the sanctimonious Church can artfully and unassumingly work behind the scenes, manipulating this political farce to its ultimate advantage. Irony abounds in this novel. We see Simonini, like a Grand Inquisitor, doing all in his power to defend the truth by perverting it. Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." -- John 15:18 (NKJV)

At first, I thought I must be reading a book written by a reincarnated Voltaire who had majored in 19th century European history. As someone who did major in 19th century European history in college, I was fascinated to see how many real historical threads masterful novelist Umberto Eco tied together to one fictional character. In his cupidity, antihero Simone Simonini is a perfect reflection of the world he describes in terms of cynically fanning the flames of hate to advance some momentary interest or another. The opening pages are simply stunning in terms of their self-indictment of how little prejudice is usually based on.

From there, I'm sure you'll enjoy reading how many forged documents and "informational" campaigns were based on obscure novels that had been forgotten by many people. I almost fell out of my chair laughing in places while being reminded how many such deceptions were taken from the very same sources.

This book is so rich in history, perspective, and psychology that it could easily become the subject for a doctoral dissertation. I don't remember another modern novel with nearly this much intellectual content . . . put together in such an entertaining way. I agree that it's destined to be considered a masterpiece.

I hope that many young readers will have opportunities to read and to discuss its content in class. Such an investigation will help inoculate them against much of the cynical posturing that today's politicians and opinion makers engage in . . . for their own benefit and for the harm of most everyone else. In that sense, the book will seem at some levels as if it were also describing the 21st century.

Just marvelous! Don't miss it!
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