The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth

I’ve wanted to read this probably ever since a new translation was released in 1995.  It’s the story of the ruination of the Trotta family due to unmerited military honors and elevation to the nobility. This all happens at the same time that the Hungarian-Austrian Empire, under Franz Joseph I who is killed by assassination,  collapses (between our Civil War and WWI).  

The Radetzky March
by Joseph Roth (tr Joachim Neugroschel)
2032 /-
Read by James Anderson Foster 14h 27m
Rating – 10 / classic historical fiction 

It reminds me in a way of Buddenbrooks and I see I’m not the only one to make that connection. The stories take place in the same pre-WWI era and are generally about 3 generations of a family which rose to glory and riches but then fall with the third generation (and it was called the Buddenbrooks effect for a few decades).  

In The Radetzky March, Joseph Trotta, a excellent Austrian infantryman of rural peasant background. saves the life of Franz Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, by throwing him to the ground and getting a bullet in his own back for his efforts. Trotta recovers from his wounds which darned near killed him, but finds himself knighted and promoted to Captain. So now he’s got a new life, too.  He and his family are promoted to the nobility.  

He and his family are nobility in title only.They were not “to the manor born.”  The truth is that Trotta’s son and grandson don’t have a clue how to lives  which have been circumscribed for generations in other families of similar title. So life for grandson Carl Joseph (our protagonist) is awkward and there are funny situations as well as deadly. 

The 1st situation involves a good friend of Carl who is doctor and his wife.  He ends up moving to another base.  The 2nd situation involves a very old man oil

Franz Trotta, Joseph’s son, and Carl Joseph Trotta try their hardest but courtly duties, manners and women definitely confuse them and it all comes to nothing- maybe.

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2 Responses to The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I thought this was a fantastic book, it’s like War and Peace in the way that it shows that wars are not always about we think they’re about, and that truth takes second place in the stories that are told.


  2. Yes, War and Peace was another one which, in its own way, was similar.


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