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Jan Morris evokes Trieste's modern history -- from the long period of wealth and stability under the Habsburgs, through the ambiguities of Fas-cism and the hardships of the Cold War. She has been going to Trieste for more than half a century and has come to see herself reflected in it: not just her interests and preoccupations -- cities, empires, ships and animals -- but her intimate convictions about such matters as patriotism, sex, civility and kindness. "Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere" is the culmination of a singular career.
Yet, as historian and travel writer Morris ably demonstrates in this homage to one of her favorite cities (others about which she has written are Hong Kong, Sydney, New York, and Venice), Trieste has many charms. Its history is foremost among them, thanks to the city's former role as the sole port of the otherwise landlocked Austro-Hungarian empire, which housed a small fleet there--a fleet that, from time to time, would sail off to make war against the Ottomans or the Italians. At the beginning of the 20th century, Trieste had grown to international importance as an entry point into Central Europe, so much so that it was referred to as "the third entrance of the Suez Canal." Trieste briefly took center stage at the onset of the cold war, when Marshall Tito claimed it for Yugoslavia; it narrowly avoided being enveloped by the Iron Curtain. Morris tells all these stories and more, bringing the city's past to life; no one should be surprised if Trieste sees more visitors thanks to her spirited study.
Yet Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere is also a work tinged with melancholy. That befits the city's faded glory, but it also has to do with the sad fact that this will be Morris's last book--or so she promises. Let's hope she changes her mind. If not, however, this serves very well as the capstone of a distinguished career. --Gregory McNamee
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Book Description: Simon & Schuster, Riverside, New Jersey, U.S.A., 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. First printing. Jacket has a small area along the top edge of the front face close to the spine which is slightly warped, as if it may have gotten damp at one time. Bookseller Inventory # 008681
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