Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. Conspiracies rule history. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies, both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created the world’s most infamous document?
Umberto Eco takes his readers on a remarkable journey through the underbelly of world-shattering events. Here is Eco at his most exciting, a book immediately hailed as a masterpiece.
""[Eco's] latest takes that longtime thriller darling, the conspiracy theory, and turns it into something grander...Sold to 40 countries and said to be controversial; a speed-read with smarts."" -- Library Journal,
Pre-Pub Alert, ""My Picks"" ""A whirlwind tour of conspiracy and political intrigue...this dark tale is delightfully embellished with sophisticated and playful commentary on, among other things, Freud, metafiction, and the challenges of historiography."" -- Booklist
""Intriguing, hilarious....a tale by a master."" -- Publishers Weekly
boxed review ""He's got a humdinger in this new high-level whodunit...a perplexing, multilayered, attention-holding mystery."" -- Kirkus
, starred ""I find this book fascinating, perhaps the best Eco has written in years. Eco takes on conspiracy theories in the feverish political activism of nineteenth-century Europe--freemasonry, the Italian Risorgimento, the Paris Commune, and above all the forgery of the slanderous The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
. What if there were a single mastermind behind all these conspiracies? It's already a bestseller in Italy, and I can't get enough of it!"" -- Huffington Post ""The Prague Cemetery
is vintage Eco….Eco, the star bookworm of our times, has used his genius for excavating libraries to construct a semifictional narrative of how The Protocols
might have evolved….The Prague Cemetery
is at once entertainment, education, and warning. As usual, Eco has enjoyed himself. The narrative is vivid, shocking, sometimes baffling. It’s loaded ….with learned Eco disquisitions on bomb-making, the Paris sewers, the history of the Commune, the taxonomical distinctions between ladies on the game (grisettes, cocottes, biches, lorettes,
and courtesans), early theories of brain function, and so forth. But as a genealogy showing how The Protocols
evolved from the nightmares bequeathed to Europe by medieval heresy-hunting (the subject of The Name of the Rose
), the book is a triumph."" -- New York Review of Books