The House of Wittgenstein

A Family at War

Publisher: Anchor
The House of Wittgenstein is the grand saga of a brilliant and tragic Viennese family whose members included a famous philosopher and the world's greatest one-handed classical pianist.

The Wittgenstein family was one of the wealthiest, most talented, and most eccentric in European history, held together by a fanatical love of music yet torn apart by money, madness, conflicts of loyalty, and the upheaval of two world wars. Of the eight children, three committed suicide; Paul lost an arm in the war and yet stubbornly pursued a musical career; and Ludwig, the odd youngest son, is now regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Alexander Waugh, author of the acclaimed memoir Fathers and Sons and himself the offspring of a famous and eccentric family, tells their baroque tale with a novelistic richness to rival Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks.



Vienna is described--over-described--as a city of paradox; but for those who do not know this or have never been there, it may be pictured as a capriccio drawn from the flat sound bites of the Austrian Tourist Board, a place defined by its rich cream cakes, Mozart mugs and T-shirts, New...
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“Excellent and astonishing. . . . Fits squarely among the long line of nonfiction masterpieces driven by the intoxicating richness of early century Vienna. . . . Riveting.” —The New York Observer

“When it comes to dysfunction, the Wittgensteins of Vienna could give the Oedipuses a run for their money.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Even in the exotic Vienna of one hundred years ago, the Wittgenstein clan stood out for its density of eccentrics. . . . [Waugh] has at least one stupefying anecdote per page as he describes this stunningly maladroit bunch of cultivated nuts, sweeties, intellectuals, philanthropists, and misanthropes.” —Bloomberg
“The story in this book is so gripping and fascinating that it is remarkable that it has never been told in this way before. . . . It is hard to imagine another account showing such fluency, wit and attention to detail.” —Literary Review

"A work of real discovery and rollicking narrative. This is a memorable biography, not to be missed.” —London Evening Standard

“Waugh has done a masterly job, untangling a mass of financial and psychological complexities, while never over-encumbering the central, personal stories. His writing is brisk, confident and colourful . . . and the book is a pleasure to read.” —Telegraph

“Marvellous, a sharp combination of some formidable scholarship . . . with a wonderful eye for absurdity . . . a magnificently refreshing and invigorating volume which deserves a wide readership.” —The Independent