Vienna Blood
by Wilfried Lippmann

"The truth about Vienna lies deeper: in the streets where the people live, shop and entertain themselves; in the narrow lanes in the suburbs, still curved and cobble-stoned, ascending into the foothills of the Vienna Woods; in the middle of a crowded tram, and in the line of a corner butcher shop."

Wilfried Lippmann grew up in the 1940s and 50s in Vienna, moving permanently to North America in 1965. He remains in touch with childhood friends there and went back recently to see if his beloved city had changed.

This is a remembrance of a childhood in an elegant, old-fashioned European city. The author's memory is prodigious; one supposes he kept journals or letters. Lippmann was raised by a mother (his father, a policeman and soldier, died during World War II) with an older, somewhat domineering sister, Rose. The family was close; rules were strict. School curriculums were perhaps ten times more rigorous than those in current American institutions, and music, of course, played a big part in Vienna, home to many classical composers. So did foraging for mushrooms, being charitable and polite to all, spending time on the banks of the Danube, and lusting after girls, but waiting to a respectable age (i.e. late teens) to do anything about those instincts. It was a time of recovering from the war, being thankful, a time to work hard and aspire to rise above your station in life. Titles and status were important.

Some memoirs seem universal, written for a large audience because of their central ideas and actions. Others, like Vienna Blood, are much more personal, even nostalgic. Conversational in tone, the author often addresses his readers directly. It is about a certain time in a certain place in one boy's life. The perfect audience for this memoir would be those who have visited and love the city; people of Viennese descent; and people who like tales of the impact World War II had on European citizens and culture.

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