Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days” as Want to Read:
The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A dramatic revisiting of Freud's escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna, his final days on earth, and his most controversial work--Moses and Monotheism.

When Hitler invaded Vienna in March of 1938, Sigmund Freud, old and desperately ill, was among the city's 175,000 Jews dreading Nazi occupation. The Nazis hated Sigmund Freud with a particular vehemence: they detested his "soul-d
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2007)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Death of Sigmund Freud, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Death of Sigmund Freud

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 254)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Berggasse 19 was the Vienna address of Dr. Freud, his wife and sister-in-law, daughter Anna and Martin, their son in 1938. Freud's other sons had left Austria earlier in the decade when Hitler became chancellor fearing the fanaticism and tyranny that was to come.

When the German troops crossed the border into Austria on March 12, 1938 with no opposition, Freud wrote in his diary, "Finis Austria" as the annexation (Anschluss) had begun.

On March 14, Hitler rode through the streets of his youth in a
This was a readable memoir of Freud in the last two years of his life. He flees Vienna reluctantly as the Nazis take power and relocates to England. I enjoyed the book for the glimpse it provided of Freud and his relationships with friends and family, his marvelous work ethic and bravery regarding his (not always spot-on) ideas.
The author does a lot of "While Freud was ailing, Hitler was triumphing," and "As cancer ate Freud's face, Hitler was basking in high approval ratings." This struck a ti
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the Week:
4 Extra Debut. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is beset by illness, and the threat of Hitler invading Austria.
BBC 4 Extra Debut.

(view spoiler)
This book focuses on the last two years of Freud's life, when he was old, riddled with the cancer that would kill him, and the Nazis were taking over Austria, forcing him to flee from Vienna to London. Freud had gret insight into human nature, including the dark side of human nature that makes dictators like Hitler possible, and perhaps inevitable. Still, in the face of great adversity, he persisted in his work, finishing his last and most controversial book shortly before his death. While his v ...more
Sep 22, 2007 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Freudians
I just finished this book this afternoon. It just took two or three days, although I'm not usually such a fast reader. It's very clear, readable, but also highly intelligent and original. What many people know already but Edmundson highlights brilliantly is that Freud's writings should be approached with an open, inquisitive mind. The reverence and violent hate simultaneously directed toward Freud since his death, Edmundson points out, are both products of a sort of broad cultural transference. ...more
Edmundson's biography of Freud intertwines his later years when Hitler takes over Vienna - the city where Freud lives. Freud is a Jew by birth and one of the early well known psychoanalysts. He relates those years when Freud and his family's life was in constant peril as Jews. Although Freud is well educated in Judaism, he is not active in that religion. During his years as an psychoanalyst, Freud wrote extensively of the need of a God figure in mankinds mind. He writes some very compelling argu ...more
Jul 03, 2008 Dzimmerman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any thoughtful person
Recommended to Dzimmerman by: my mom got it for free and sent it to me
Vivid depiction of Freud's last days and the important people who populated his later life. A sympathetic portrayal of a highly controversial figure. It's a quick read. Gives enough political/historical context to ground Freud's individual story in the story of his time without getting bogged down. Does a nice job highlighting the boldness and tectonic originality of Freud's thinking. Puts Freud's ideas in an intuitive, literary language that will make sense to any thoughtful reader. Focus is de ...more
Sue Pit
This book juxtaposes Freud with Hitler interestingly. Obviously, Hitler affected the last times of Freud as his actions effected a need for a change of Freud's location in his latter years. I had just recently seen the off-broadway production of "Freud's Last Session" which is a fictional portrayal of Freud meeting with C.S. Lewis in England. Excellent production, btw, and very shortly thereafter I saw this book in the Atticus bookstore and it regarded the same (roughly) time frame as that portr ...more
Willem van der Scheun
This book had been lying around for two years, but our recent visit to Vienna seemed like a good reason to read it. And it proved to be a remarkable book about Freud's last two years (1938-1939) from the period of the German Anschluss to his death in London. It not only tells the story of his and his families flight and fight, but it also gives a good introduction to some of his thoughts on authority, relating to totalitarianism, tyranny and fundamentalism. It inspires me to go read his very las ...more
Interesting inter-weaving of Freud's last years, including his escape from Vienna in the aftermath of the Nazi take-over with his views on the human need for 'strong' leaders/gods. Reading this with Steven Pinker's 'The Blank Slate', which also posits the view that violence and religiosity are innate to human nature, provided a grim, but fascinating, psychological angle to Pinker's genetic picture. Tangentially, the book also includes one of the best paeans to smoking I've ever come across.
Pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book as I am out of my comfort zone here. In my lifetime I've been aware of experts' vastly differing opinions on Freud's legacy and so I have never cared nor even attempted to dabble in Freudian theory or psychoanalysis.

That said, I could not help but be infected by the author's respect for the man and his work. He seems to have cherry-picked just the right elements to make this an interesting narrative.

The story of Freud and his family living in
part biography, part discussion of freud's ideas on authoritarianism, part critique, part defense of freud, it's enjoyable. in the background is hitler, his rise to power, and how freud's ideas in some ways predicted this, and in some ways didn't. very "pop academic". a bit repetitive at moments... altogether a quick read and a fun return to reading about psychology which i haven't done in a long time.
Quotes from Edmundson:

“America: there was no nation that Sigmund Freud disliked more … Freud never ceased to detest the country. To him, America represented a social catastrophe nearly as dire as the one embodied by the Nazis … Virtually everything he knew—or thought he knew—about the United States irritated Sigmund Freud.

“Americans, first off, were obsessed by money. Everyone … was dully materialistic, without cultivation, without subtlety, without the capacity to enjoy life’s higher pleasures.
The first 100 or so pages pale in comparison with the last 140. In the shadow of Hitler annexing Austria Freud leaves for London. This book elucidates Freud's understanding of why both fascism and religious fundamentalism hold attraction. I think this is an important book
What a great book! I've enjoyed it so very much! Highly recommended!
Paul Loong
I bought this book because it claims that it traces some very interesting link between Freud and Hitler. I am let down. It has far fewer links than it claims. In fact, the book just tells you the last years of Freud, with some historical facts of what Hitler was doing at the same time. There is not much analysis on the behavior of Nazi, which is what I expect what the link should be. Maybe I've just misunderstood.

Furthermore, the talk about Fascism and Rise of Fundamentalism is only mentioned in
Dec 25, 2007 Kim marked it as to-read
I haven't touched this book yet - the topic doesn't even strike me as that intersting - but I am very fond of Edmundson's writing style and am captivated by his philosophies. That said, it can't hurt to learn a little more about Mr. Sigmund Freud.
Jan 11, 2008 Katie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Much more than a history or a biography, this book uses Freud, Vienna, and Hitler to examine the allure of the authoritarian and the fascist.
Shee Tsim Nam
Not interesting. The description of the events around Freud may be rather exhaustive but there lacks a main theme of thinking to follow.
Amanda Varella
A very informative reading about the life of Freud during the times of second war
Sep 10, 2008 William rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Excellent... Clues to now...
Michelle Bright
Michelle Bright marked it as to-read
May 28, 2015
Alison marked it as to-read
May 28, 2015
Joanne marked it as to-read
May 25, 2015
Sara added it
May 01, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Calum's Road
  • The Wolfman and Other Cases
  • Young Henry of Navarre
  • The Street
  • A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen
  • Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954
  • The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship
  • Freud: A Very Short Introduction
  • Moment of Freedom: The Heiligenberg Manuscript
  • Short Stories
  • The Devil's Footprints: A Novel
  • Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
  • Ostland
  • Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives
  • The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life
  • The White Nile
  • Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy
  • The Brigade: An Epic Story of Vengeance, Salvation & World War II
Why Read? Why Teach?: In Defense of a Real Education Teacher: The One Who Made the Difference Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game Nightmare on Main Street: Angels, Sadomasochism, and the Culture of Gothic

Share This Book