Andrew Nagorski spikes his thriller with truly terrifying notes...Shortly before the dash for freedom, two of Freud’s children, Anna and Martin, were questioned by the Gestapo...They had taken the precaution of asking Schur for a deadly barbiturate to take if torture ensued...Moreover, four of Freud’s elderly sisters stayed in Austria; three perished in Treblinka, while the fourth starved to death...At the end of this otherwise excellent book we are still left pondering how Freud himself, whose work was all about facing up to the unpleasant realities of human life, could carry on believing for so long that he alone could give History the slip...A gripping account of how colleagues and admirers spirited the psychoanalyst from Nazi-controlled Vienna to London.
... excellent ... Nagorski mixes the pacing of a historical thriller (think Alan Furst, but nonfiction, and starring therapists instead of spies) with a meditation on the limits of insight and what it means to be attached to a specific place and to live in a given moment in time. He shows Freud—and, more crucially, those around him—navigating the gaps between abstract awareness of danger and personal decisiveness, against the backdrop of historical events unfolding in real time. The result is hard to put down, poignant, and distressingly timely. Because if Freud himself, so attuned to the dark undercurrents of human behavior and so critical of the false security offered by our wishful illusions, proved unable to think clearly even as his country became unrecognizable around him and as nightmare after nightmare became real, what are our chances now? ... Nagorski keeps the pacing tight and, without spoiling too much, narrates moments rich in incident and detail.
Saving Freud is not an original book; pretty much everything in it is already well known and documented elsewhere. But the conceit of the book, which is a kind of group biography of the people who helped 'save' Freud from the Nazis, is a strong one ... Each of the early chapters takes one of these figures and describes their links with Freud, pointing forwards to the day when they would act on his behalf; and all the portraits are well drawn. The book is lively and the story well told ... At the end of it, Freud himself, who stirred and still stirs such strong emotions not only in those who knew him personally but in those for whom he is only a name, comes alive again through the eyes of people who cared deeply that he should survive ... This is probably the book’s main achievement: that in a time in which the standing and integrity of psychoanalysis continues to be questioned, it manages to show the extent to which people were entranced by Freud, how much this led some of them to love him, and how in doing so they revealed the deep ethical core of his person and his ideas.
... absorbing ... an insight-filled group portrait of the founder of psychoanalysis and his followers. It is also a psychobiographical thriller about the limits of genius ... Was Freud’s political blindness, as Mr. Nagorski calls it, also a form of personal blindness, symptomatic of the same neurotic patterns he is famous for identifying: ambivalence, denial, narcissism? Or perhaps we’re the ones harboring irrational assumptions: Why should being a genius in the science of the mind guarantee expertise in the unrelated discipline of political science?
Nagorski tells a riveting new story, one that shows just how narrow Freud’s escape from the Nazi genocide was ... Readers looking for an in-depth exploration of the tenets of psychoanalysis will not find that here, but Saving Freud contains just enough about the central themes of Freud’s professional life to give a sense of his impact on the discipline he is largely credited with inventing. Unlike other, more critical biographies, the Freud that emerges from these pages is warm, avuncular and excessively fond of Anna, whom he knew would carry on his legacy. The narrative pace and Nagorski’s fluid writing give this book the character of an adventure story. It is an engrossing but sobering read that reminds us how many others without the resources of the Freud family had no similar options to make an exodus.
Saving Freud tells the story of a group of people—including Freud's daughter Anna and her lover, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham (heiress to the Tiffany & Co. fortune); the U.S. ambassador to France, William Bullitt; and Marie Bonaparte, princess of Greece and great-grandniece to Napoleon—who did just that...Motivated by love and towering respect for a man and his work, the unlikely team cooperated seamlessly to achieve the near impossible...It is a tale of good-heartedness, of human devotion and of people who unhesitatingly rushed in to do the right thing...In this way, it feels like a relief to read...Far from being a dry historical account, the book's emphasis on the personal creates a compelling, page-turning narrative that is wholly engrossing and difficult to put down...Nagorski has written a book for our time, reminding us of the potential for good and adherence to higher ideals in moments of global emergency.
... mixes almost minute-by-minute events among this widely divergent group with lengthy, fascinating and at times tender recollections of Freud’s long, colorful life and rich mental conceptions. They are innovative in ways that are still today being recalled and refined as his new science has taken strong hold on how we think about ourselves ... Nagorski has personal family history that links him to this vibrant subject matter. Noting the fate of some of Freud’s family members who were left behind underscores the crucial importance of his team of saviors. Nagorski’s attention to one of the 20th century’s greatest men --- his private attitudes, his public acclaim, his revolutionary mental acumen --- provides rich material for an intelligent audience to ponder.
A richly contextual look at Freud's escape to London...Though veteran journalist and author Nagorski delivers a riveting page-turner, German troops don’t enter Austria until Page 230, and Freud leaves on Page 254...Few readers will complain once they realize that the narrative is a fine biography of Freud...The author pays close attention to his subject’s early life and struggles and the development of psychoanalysis, which, focused on childhood sexuality and the unconscious, enraged as many as it fascinated and made Freud an international celebrity by 1900...Nagorski doesn’t ignore Freud’s early followers (Jung, Adler), many of whom who were out of the picture by the 1930s, but he maintains a sharp focus on a small group who remained loyal, again delivering complete, satisfying biographies that don’t emphasize the rescue...Excellent biographies of Freud and some contemporaries.
Journalist Nagorski reveals that Freud, who was 81 years old and struggling with cancer when Nazi Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, was in deep denial of the danger he faced as a Jew and as the founder of psychoanalysis, which the Nazis deemed 'Jewish pseudoscience'...Though Freud’s relationships with Carl Jung and Albert Einstein are discussed, the focus is on those credited with getting him out of Europe, including Welsh psychoanalyst Ernest Jones; William Bullitt, the U.S. ambassador to France and a patient of Freud’s; and European socialite Marie Bonaparte...Nagorski draws vivid profiles of these and other acquaintances, shares intriguing tidbits about Freud’s eccentricities, and dramatically recounts how Freud, his wife, and his daughter escaped to London...The result is an invigorating look at a lesser-known chapter of Freud’s well-documented life.