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The Radetzky March
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Book Wormy | 1922 comments Mod
The Radetzky March Joseph Roth

While the underlying story was an interesting one I found the narrative style left me as a reader disconnected from the characters and their lives and as a result of this I didn't actually care what happened to them.

Diane Zwang | 1214 comments Mod
Book wrote: "The Radetzky March Joseph Roth

While the underlying story was an interesting one I found the narrative style left me as a reader disconnected from the characters and their lives and as a resul..."

Glad to hear this. I am struggling to engage in this story and I thought it was just me:)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3950 comments Mod
Book wrote: "The Radetzky March Joseph Roth

While the underlying story was an interesting one I found the narrative style left me as a reader disconnected from the characters and their lives and as a resul..."

I am struggling with the narrator style and hoping it improves. I am about 100 pages into the book.

Seamus Duggan (SeamusDuggan) | 1 comments The whole novel tells of a world that seems ridiculous as it disappears but the world that is coming is not any better, just inevitable. Roth's control of time during the novel is extraordinary. He moves between TIME and particular moments with ease. At one point a change occurs in how the third Trotta lives and he settles into his new life and habits until it feels like he has always lived that way. Then we discover that it has only been a couple of weeks. It is as if we are being shown that some changes are absolute and wipe away the history that preceded them. "The Lieutenant had a sudden premonition of the end of the world. ... For a split second, the Lieutenant was endowed with a lofty visionary power; and he saw the epochs rolling one against the other like two boulders, and himself, the Lieutenant, being crushed between the pair of them."

It is the power of this insight that makes this as relevant today as it was when it was written. Eras come to an end and when they do the truths that underpin them can be seen to be no more than habits, but until this happens, many people live blindly by these 'truths'. We all become history. "He was wise, and he understood that he stood powerlessly between his ancestors and his descendants, themselves destined to be ancestors, one day, of an entirely different breed."
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Tracy (tstan) | 557 comments 3 stars
I agree with BW on this one. The story would have been so much better if the characters were more engaging. It was a struggle to read. But the actual Radetzky March (classical music) is very moving!

Kristel (kristelh) | 3950 comments Mod
3.5 stars for me, my review; Written in 1932 by German author Joseph Roth, the book tells the story of the decline and fall of the Hapsburg Republic through the Trotta family. It is a part of 1001 Books you must read and is an early example of a story that has a recurring historical figure. Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria who ruled from 1830 to 1916. I read the newer translation of 1995 by Joachim Neugroschel. During the battle of Solferino (1859, Italy) Franz Joseph I is almost killed. Infantry Lieutenant Trotta causes the Emperor to fall from his horse and prevents his being killed. Trotta is awarded honors and ennobles him. The Trotta family origins in Slovenian peasant. The award while appearing to be a good thing leads to the ruin of the Trotta family which parallels the ruin of the Austrian Hungarian dynasty and eventual collapse. The story follows the The grandfather, his son who becomes a civil servant and the grandson who joins the cavalry as an officer. The grandson is mediocre. He never rides well, he can't make decisions, he only desires to be heroic like his grandfather but instead, people around him die because of his actions. The title is from the Radetzky March, by Johann Strauss. This is a political novel and tells the story of not only the Trotta family but of the Ethnic groups within the Hapsburg Republic; Moravia, Serbia, Ukrainia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bosnia Herzegovina and the Jewish people. It heralds the changes from the 1800's to the 1900's and takes the reader to the start of the WWI. While the book was all of this, it should have been good and it was good but it was not engaging. I could sit and read once I started but it was not a book that drew me back once I set it down. I am glad I read it. I appreciate it and will give it 3 1/2 stars because it is an important novel but it loses a 1/2 star because it work to read.

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Patrick Robitaille | 904 comments The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth) *** 1/2

Up to this year, Radetzky March was for me a promising thoroughbred horse, racing about 10 years ago, which had won 7 of its 11 first races (and rewarding me for a few wise bets on his successes). But then, his wheels fell off and never managed to do better than a 3rd place (and punishing me for a few unwise bets on his "successes") until they retired him a couple of years later.

When being faced with the prospect of reading this book, I wanted to find out what was the Radetzky March and discovered that it was a military march composed by Strauss in 1848 to commemorate Field Marshal Radetzky's victory at the battle of Custoza (thanks Wikipedia). I immediately recognized it when I listened to it (thanks YouTube), in all its pomposity and grandiosity. It really feels like a euphoric victory march.

By choosing this piece as the title for his novel portraying the decay of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Roth clearly conveyed the sense of euphoria, of "nothing-can-wrong-with-Franz-Joseph" that pervaded and poisoned this Empire until its end, as portrayed through the destinies of three generations of Trottas: the grandfather, hero of the battle of Solferino; his son, the baron acting as district commissioner; the grandson, granted an officer's position in the army and multiplying judgment errors and messing up his life until being killed in vain and ungloriously at the beginning of WWI. It is not an easy read, but it clearly provides examples, through the characters' actions and attitudes, of why the Austro-Hungarian Empire was doomed. It is a good companion to two other novels which depict more or less directly the same downfall: The Man Without Qualities from Musil and The Good Soldier Svejk from Hasek.

Diane Zwang | 1214 comments Mod
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
3/5 stars

I agree with my fellow 3 star reviewers. I think Kristel and Patrick did great summing up the main points of the novel. I enjoyed the relationship between father and son. I also like the relationship with Carl Joseph and Frau Slama. Once Carl Joseph becomes a lieutenant and we get into his downfall I lost a connection with the story. I also liked the father's relationship with Dr. Skowronnek. Overall I felt I learned something new about the Austro-Hungarian Empire and for that I am grateful.

I wish I spoke German as there was a mini series done of this book but sadly it is not available in the U.S. I found it was uploaded to Youtube but it is in German.

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Zombie Kitten (monsterkids) | 43 comments The Radetzky March- Joseph Roth
4 Stars
It took me a little while to get into this book but I ended up really liking it. I got caught up in the family and the story around them and enjoyed the different characters and nationalities that were presented, as well as the presentation of the soldiers.

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Zombie Kitten (monsterkids) | 43 comments The Radetzky March- Joseph Roth
4 Stars
It took me a little while to get into this book but I ended up really liking it. I got caught up in the family and the story around them and enjoyed the different characters and nationalities that were presented, as well as the presentation of the soldiers.

message 11: by Sushicat (last edited Mar 24, 2016 10:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sushicat | 292 comments Radetzkimarsch by Joseph Roth
3.5 stars
The story of the Trotta family is a stand-in for the end of the Habsburg monarchy. As a lieutenant in the army the grandfather saves the emperor's life in the battle of Solferino and is raised from a commoner's situation to a barony. His son would like to enter the army, but is forbidden by his father and does duty as a civil servant. He in turn drives his son into an army career that does not at all fit him. Trapped in circumstances he cannot break out of, the grandson's life spirals downwards and reflects the imminent decay of the empire itself.
The execution achieves it's aim brilliantly. It paints a portrait of a era that has lost vitality and purpose. However for long stretches I felt disconnected from the story. For some parts of the book I switched to an audio version, which embodied the text perfectly with it's slight Austrian tinge and a very measured pace.
The rating reflects a 4 for execution and a 3 for enjoyment.

message 12: by Pip (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pip | 1352 comments I read this book a couple of years ago because my granddaughter was reading it as a text for her European History course while she was staying with me, and I thought it would be fun to discuss it with her. It made an interesting parallel with The Good Soldier Svek, which I was reading at the same time. Both books criticize the military for its cumbersome bureaucracy and unsympathetic man management. Roth wrote his book in the early thirties, and its time-frame was from the Battle of Solferino in 1859 until the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. So it dovetailed in neatly with The Good Soldier. It traces the history of the men in three generations of the Trotta family, from the infantryman who saved the life of Emperor Franz Joseph I, at the above-mentioned Battle of Solferino through the civil servant son to the cavalryman grandson. It vividly depicts the life of both a soldier and a civilian of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the time before the First World War. The simmering tensions before war was declared are also depicted in a lively, interesting way, so that one can imagine what life was like at that time. I also felt strong parallels with events in the Ukraine right now. The Radetzky March was written by Johann Strauss, something I had to look up, but the March was played at several critical times in the course of the novel, serving as a leitmotif for the fortunes of the Trotta family. This was an interesting read, which threw light on a historical period I knew little about. It portrayed the dissolute life of an officer in the army of the Empire (wine, women, song, duelling and most importantly gambling) in a compelling style.
I have just re-read the book for a reading challenge and it is a book which deserves a careful analysis. The characters were most often labelled by their vocation rather than by name, a prevalent Germanic propensity even today, but it highlighted how important one's role in society was during the Dual Monarchy. There was the "Hero of Solferino", his son. The District Commissioner, and the grandson Lieutenant Trotta. The scenes where the youngest Trotta is interviewed about his progress at Cadet School in an extremely formal manner exemplify the heightened sense of honour and duty which that society exalted above other virtues. District Commisioner Trotta was consumed by a sense of duty even when he began to sense that the Empire was foundering. There is a wonderful description of a duel, fought for inconsequential reasons, but necessary for the honour of the regiment. Roth also depicted the dissolute lives of the officers. They were required to drill every morning, but the rest of the day they sat scoffing pastries or drinking schnapps. The officers who were planning a party took hours every day for weeks to compose the invitations. Their lack of efficiency was breathtaking!
I don't remember what edition my grand-daughter owned, but this time I read a translation by the poet Michael Hofmann. I am almost sure it is a different translation because I am sure I would have remembered how vividly the weather and the countryside were described. Laburnam flowering was a symbol of spring, birds often depicted mood, most memorably the ravens which arrived as a symbol of the crumbling world order, and rain was almost a character in its own right. The portents of chaos to come were often described as weather events. When District Commissioner Trotta left after visiting his son on the eastern border "where the end of the world could clearly be seen coming, as one might see a storm brewing over the edge of a city, while its streets are still basking innocently under a cloudless sky" is one example.
Altogether, after a second reading, probably a superior translation, I have upgraded my rating from 4 stars to five.

Beverly (zippymom) | 95 comments The Radetzky March (Von Trotta Family #1) by Joseph Roth
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
3 stars

This was much more interesting than I thought it would be. The book, which is a family saga, brings the lives of the von Trotta family to life during the time frame just before World War I. The 3 generations covered start out with Lieutenant Trotta, who during the Battle of Solferino actually knocks Emperor Franz Joseph I off his horse to keep him from being shot by snipers. The Emperor rewards Trotta by making him a Baron. Although he doesn't take himself too seriously, those around him now consider him a nobleman. Baron Trotta proceeds to encourage his own son to get involved in government rather than having a military career and so the second Baron Trotta becomes a district commissioner. When the third Baron Trotta reaches the age of majority, his father wants him to become a cavalry officer. His military career kind of devolves into wine, women and gambling, almost to the point of ruining his life but he is then financially bailed out by none other than Emperor Franz Joseph I, who his grandfather had saved. It was interesting to me how many times, the Radetzky March was actually mentioned in the book. Composed by Johann Strauss, it was an extremely popular piece of music at the time.

message 14: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
3.5 stars
I did struggle getting through the first half of the novel but ultimately enjoyed the book as the pace picked up toward the end. What I liked about the novel was the way that Roth really captured a moment in time with the decline of an empire. It was challenging to read at time but ultimately a worthy read.

message 15: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Seymour I finished this yesterday before my return from Denver and realized I better get in my review.


I was probably going to give this book a three stars until the very end. The ending with Dr. Skowronnek sitting down to a game of chess by himself after burying District Commissioner Trotta, while the rain fell and ran down the window panes conveyed the futility of empire and war more eloquently than anything else I can remember reading. There are also other aspects of the book that are quite intriguing. In addition to those mentioned by Patrick, Pip, Seamus and others, there is the whole "Hero of the Battle of Solferino." In juxtaposition with the ever-present Radetzky March, Solferino is described as a victory, but in reality the French and Italian armies defeated Austria at Solferino, but at such great cost that the battle ended the war. So this loss described as a victory results in the ennoblement of a peasant for saving an Emperor's life in a prosaic event of neither great heroism or extraordinary courage. Later the event is written about in a manner that has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. I can't help but wonder if all this is intended to depict the distorting lies that attend empire, the adulation of military victory and martial virtues to the extent of rewriting history, but I need more time to think it all through. The approaching storm that accompanies the frontier's learning of the assassination in Sarajevo is simply brilliant. Like I said, more thinking is needed, but this should get me my three points. :-)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3950 comments Mod
John wrote: "I finished this yesterday before my return from Denver and realized I better get in my review.


I was probably going to give this book a three stars until the very end. The ending with Dr. Sk..."

I agree with what you are saying and you said it well.

Diane | 2021 comments Rating: 4 stars

It seems as though I enjoyed this book more than most here. This is the story of three generations in the Trotta family during the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire. I found it very interesting from a historical standpoint and beautifully written.

Amanda Dawn | 990 comments Like many here, I also gave this one 3 stars. I was really interested in the subject matter (the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), and I feel like the narrative device of following three generations of Trotta’s to parallel the heyday of the empire to its decline was really effective. The roles each Baron plays works so well in this context as well: from a legendary military might that doesn’t necessarily live up to fact, an effective administrator that is unglamorous power and longs to be part of the legendary glory, to the sad broken down and pitiful way it’s now felled by military endeavours (the third Baron’s death working beautifully amongst the beginning of WWI).

I did also find the narrative style a bit of an obstacle to getting fully emotionally invested in the characters and their lives, but I did enjoy it overall.

Tatjana JP | 280 comments Set before and during First World War, this is a story of a family Trota and their three generations. The first Trota was a soldier who saved Emperor' s life becomes "a hero of Solferino"; his son provincial administrator and grand-son a captain who ends a family line. It is also a story of decline of the Austian-Hungarian Empire and its last Emperor Franz Joseph I.
My rating: 3 stars

message 20: by Gail (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1266 comments This story of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as seen through the lives of three generations of a short lived dynasty, is well done as a reflection of both nationalistic splintering forces and as a more personal splintering on the part of our main characters. The original promotion to being a Baron was given to a soldier who saved the life of the Emperor and throughout the book we meet the Emperor as his long long life holds the empire together. The second Baron becomes a committed bureaucrat and his son becomes a soldier who has no commitment to the military and no values to aspire to.
I especially appreciated the time we spent with the Emperor and his inner thoughts and I thought that Roth painted the drunks in the book with very knowledgeable insights into that controlled/out of control balance. I suspect he knew from his own personal journey.
The three main characters, the Barons, were less sympathetic and I was less interested in them until the end when the bureaucrat is forced to face the fact that his world is coming to an end.
I also found it interesting as I am reading A Man without Qualities which has an overlapping timeframe and I just read Singer's The Manor, which takes place in Poland but also in that timeframe. Together the books have enlightened me to the absolutely revolutionary changes that were taking place in all levels of society and the different perspectives of those changes.
Also 3 stars.

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