Book look: Petra Ramsauer

Petra Ramsauer’s new book “Mit Allah an die Macht” offers a comprehensive view on the wide spectrum of consequences of the revolutions in Northern Africa and the Arab region which started last year.Mit Allah an die Macht -

The experienced journalist – who has reported from crisis regions for several Austrian and foreign newspapers and magazines – explains what the political and sociological changes in the various countries mean for global politics. She devotes an own chapter to give an outlook on the possible consequences on decision-making procedures of Europe’s governments.

Ramsauer also investigates the importance of social media in the ongoing conflicts and analyses the political goals of protesters in the various countries which have been rocked by protest marches attended by hundreds of thousands before violence overshadowed several of the different peace movements.

Ramsauer’s brilliant book comes on the heels of acclaimed publications by experts such as Volker Perthes (“Der Aufstand”) and reporters like Wieland Schneider (“Das Ende der Angst?”). “Mit Allah an die Macht” also focuses on the question of what reaction can be expected from the defeated. Furthermore, Egypt’s controversial President Mohamed Morsi and other movers and shakers of the region are portrayed.

Mit Allah an die Macht. So verändern Arabiens Revolutionen unsere Welt
By Petra Ramsauer
Published by Ueberreuter (

Book look: Peter Handke

Peter Handke’s new book is out now. Germany’s Suhrkamp publishing house recently released “Versuch über den Stillen Ort”, the latest work by the author.

Handke – who was born in a rural town in the Austrian province of Carinthia – previously wrote “Versuch über die Müdigkeit”, “Versuch über die Jukebox” and “Versuch über den gegückten Tag”. The writer, who has lived near Paris for many years, has sparked mixed reactions by critics and the public not only with his output but also by his decision to support late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. “Die Hornissen”, “Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied” and “Wunschloses Unglück” are some of Handke’s most popular books. Recent publications include “Die morawische Nacht” and “Immer noch Sturm”.
Versuch über den Stillen Ort -
“Versuch über den Stillen Ort” comes shortly after Suhrkamp’s release of “Das deutsche Europa”, an essay about the economic situation in the European Union (EU) by Ulrich Beck. Economist Heiner Flassbeck’s “Zehn Mythen der Krise” is another important contribution in the current debate.

Handke’s new book follows an acclaimed cooperation of Vienna’s Burgtheater with the Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Festival). The partnership means that Viennese theatregoers have the chance to see “Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez”, a play based on a text by Handke at the city’s Akademietheater. The stage is one of the Burgtheater’s sister theatres. Nestroy laureate Dörte Lyssewski and Jens Harzer are performing in the two-person play.

Versuch über den Stillen Ort
By Peter Handke
Published by Suhrkamp (

Book look: Das deutsche Europa

A renowned sociologist has written a book about today’s “German Europe”.

Ulrich Beck, who lectures at Harvard and the London School of Economics (LSE), argues that political decision-making procedures in Europe are dominated by the German government’s policies. He warns from keeping up the pressure on financially struggling European Union (EU) member states to make further cuts. Beck – who criticises anti-democratic tendencies in parliamentary procedures in several European countries – appeals on political leaders across the continent to strengthen the states’ social systems.

On 80 pages, the author of “Nachrichten aus der Weltinnenpolitik” and “Fernliebe. Lebensformen im globalen Zeitalter”, explains how the continent’s indebted countries could overcome the current economic crisis without putting further strain on their people. The arguments listed in Beck’s book are essential in the ongoing debate about how to act as budget deficits and unemployment rates keep soaring.

“Das deutsche Europa” comes shortly after the release of “Zehn Mythen der Krise” by economist Heiner Flassbeck. In his book, Flassbeck examined several truths and myths of the economic downturn. “Zehn Mythen der Krise” was also released by Edition Suhrkamp Digital in the publishing house’s latest initiative focusing on compact and precise essays and analyses.

Das deutsche Europa
By Ulrich Beck
Published by Edition Suhrkamp Digital (

Hungarian art and high-quality acting

A wonderfully composed exhibition about a group of Hungarian artists is now on at the Bank Austria (BA) Kunstforum. The gallery – which is situated in the city centre of Vienna – organised an excellent Herbert Brandl exhibit earlier this year. Now the Kunstforum presents the “The Eight”, eight painters from the country which borders Austria in the east.

Karoly Kernstok, Robert Bereny and the six other members of their movement caused scandals in their homeland’s society in the first few years of the past century by resetting their focus on bright colours to strengthen their extravagant approach to art. Family portraits, still lifes, nude drawings and depictions of street scenes are part of the exhibition of which Gergely Barki, Evelyn Benesch and Zoltan Rockenbauer are in charge.

Located just a few hundred metres from the Burgtheater, a visit to the Kunstforum can be conveniently combined with a night at the theatre. The Burgtheater is one of the most prestigious theatres in Central Europe. It managed to receive wide acclaim by audiences and the press for most of the premieres of the current season.

“Elektra” by Hugo von Hofmannsthal is just one of several spectacular new productions at the theatre headed by Matthias Hartmann. Christiane von Poelnitz and Catrin Striebeck star in the play directed by Michael Thalheimer.

Hoffmansthal also wrote “Jedermann”, the stage drama which is performed as part of the Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Festival) each summer. It emerged recently that Cornelius Obonya will succeed Nicholas Ofczarek in playing the leading role in the play at this year’s edition of the event.

While Ofczarek has been a member of the Burgtheater ensemble for many years, Obonya can be seen on stage at the theatre this season in “Der Alpenkönig und der Menschenfeind” written by Ferdinand Raimund. He also stars in “Caligula” which is currently part of the playbill of the Kasino, a stage associated with the Burgtheater.



Viennese museum succeeds with nudity ‘scandal’ exhibit

One of Austria’s most renowned museums is hosting an exhibition focusing on a topic which has been neglected for some time: naked men.

“Nackte Männer. Von 1800 bis heute” (Nude Men. From 1800 to the present day) features around 300 paintings, sculptures and photographic installations. Organisers considered works by Peter Paul Rubens, Paul Cezanne, August Rodin, Edvard Munch, Maria Lassnig and many others for the acclaimed exhibit which is currently drawing the crowds at the Leopold Museum ( The artistic works are on display rather thematically arranged than chronologically – an aspect which demands the beholders’ attentiveness.

“Nackte Männer” does not try to cause public outcry as it rather analyses than scandalises the matter. However, there has been some controversy concerning a poster campaign. The Leopold Museum chose “Vive la France”, a photograph by French duo Pierre & Gilles to make aware of the current exhibition. The photograph shows three naked men, and its creators have emphasised that they wanted to highlight the positive aspects of multiculturalism in their homeland’s society. Those in charge at the Viennese museum eventually decided to cover up the muscle mountains’ penises. Some of the posters on display across the city were replaced with a painting by Egon Schiele.

“Nackte Männer” is not the only special exhibition currently on display at the museum which is located in Vienna-Neubau’s Museumsquartier (MQ). Another part of the Leopold Museum is dedicated to an exhibit called “Japan. Fragilität des Daseins” (Japan – Fragility of Existence). The exhibition includes ink paintings, calligraphy and colour woodcuts.

Book look: Mit eigenen Augen

National broadcaster ORF is widely respected for its high quality news coverage. While private rivals argue that the station must not spend fees on the acquisition of the rights to screen US American series, few criticise the work of its foreign correspondents. The journalists do not only cover breaking news for the ORF’s various programmes but also produce longer reports which offer background views. These are the occasions in which their journalistic excellence is unveiled.

Now yet untold background stories and personal episodes have been garnered for a new book. In “Mit eigenen Augen”, the ORF’s team of 19 correspondents recount what they “saw with their own eyes” in 16 countries all over the world.

While Bettina Madlener tells several anecdotes to highlight the vast differences in mentality which separate Britons and people from continental Europe, Mathilde Schwabeneder looks back on crimes carried out by Italy’s Mafia organisations. Christian Wehrschütz, the ORF’s correspondent for the Balkans, analyses which hurdles the regions’ nations have had to take on their way to becoming part of the European Union.

“Tagebuch der Arabischen Revolution” by Karim El-Gawhary, who works for the Vienna-based channel in Cairo, became a bestseller last year. In “Mit eigenen Augen” he describes his feelings after participating in the first election in post-Mubarak Egypt.

“Mit eigenen Augen” – now out by Austrian publishing house Styria – can be recommended not just because of the reporters’ sense for compelling stories. The book also benefits from the wide range of topics covered by the correspondents. Another positive aspect is that the concept enables the reader to read the book from the first to the final page or simply skip certain chapters.

Mit eigenen Augen. ORF-Korrespondenten berichten
By Tim Cupal, Cornelia Primosch, Jörg Winter and many others
Published by Styria Premium (

Book look: Afghanistan, adventures and Allah

Germany is gripped by an intense debate about the reasonability of the engagement of the country’s army in Afghanistan. Eleven years after the terror attacks of 9/11, politicians and the public are increasingly uncertain whether peace will ever return to the Asian country. Former DPA reporter Jonathan Schnitt spent half a year with German soldiers in Afghanistan. His book – which includes 67 photographs of which some are very persona – shows how complex the whole matter is as the troops’ experiences in the impoverished country are being told.

Foxtrott 4. Sechs Monate mit deutschen Soldaten in Afghanistan
By Jonathan Schnitt
Published by C. Bertelsmann (

Rainer Aschemeier’s new book creates a fascinating insight in the adventures of explorers of the past centuries. “Abenteurer, Grenzgänger, und Entdecker” features 15 biographies of adventurers of various countries. What makes this publication an extraordinary reading pleasure is its inclusion of diary entries of the people in the focus. Old maps, paintings and photographs fit nicely into this excellently researched book.

Abenteurer, Grenzgänger, und Entdecker
By Rainer Aschemeier
Published by Bibliographisches Institut (

Jürgen Todenhöfer recently released a book entitled “Feinbild Islam. Zehn Thesen gegen den Hass” featuring 10 theses in which false prejudices against Islam and Muslims are highlighted. Now Rita Breuer has concentrated on another aspect of the intensifying cultural battle in the Middle East: the persecution and discrimination of Christians. In “Im Namen Allahs?”, the Islam expert from Germany tells from the difficulties Christians living in the region have experienced over the years.

Im Namen Allahs?
By Rita Breuer
Published by Herder (

Everlast event and Plass play certain to delight the crowds

An intimate performance by Everlast and “Moorland”, a new theatre play, are Vienna’s cultural highlights of early December.

Everlast – the rapper/singer who topped the charts around the world with “What It’s Like” in 1998 – will hit the stage at the Porgy & Bess, one of the city’s coolest clubs, on 4 December. Fans of the Valley Stream, New York-born former House of Pain front man are looking forward to an extraordinary night thanks to his live performance skills and the intimacy of the location. Everlast is expected to play songs from his most recent album, “Songs of the Ungrateful Living” (2011), as well as hits such as “Black Jesus” and “Blinded by the Sun”.

Other essential live music occasions of next month are the concerts by Amy McDonald (Gasometer, 6 December) and Die Toten Hosen (Stadthalle, 22 December).

Already on 1 December, “Moorland” will premiere at the Theater an der Gumpendorfer Straße (TAG). Writer and director Gernot Plass has revealed that there are certain links between Friedrich Schiller’s “Die Räuber” (The Robbers) and his new play – which comes shortly after “Hamlet Sein” started its successful series of sold-out performances at the TAG. The cast of “Moorland” features Jens Claßen, Julian Loidl and “Hamlet Sein” star Gottfried Neuner.

“Moorland” will be performed a further eight times throughout December and is expected to be a significant part of the TAG’s playbill in the first few months of 2013.



Book look: Frank Elstner

Frank Elstner’s remarkable autobiography is out now.

The creator and first presenter of “Wetten, dass ..?”, the most successful primetime TV entertainment show of German-speaking Europe in the past decades, surprised media experts and fans for being brutally frank in the book. Asked why he decided to criticise some of the biggest names in showbiz, Elstner told Der Spiegel, a German magazine: “Being friendly was my role as entertainer. Nowadays, I consider myself a journalist.”

The Linz-born radio and television legend revealed he had extreme stage fright back in the old days. Speaking about the six years in the 1980s during which he presented “Wetten, dass ..?”, Elstner told Der Spiegel: “I hardly got any sleep for weeks before the shows, and sweated immensely during each of them.”

Elstner, who now hosts “Menschen der Woche” on regional TV channel SWR, also disclosed that he was not born for show business. “As a child, I was very shy. (…) I still don’t like red carpets and being photographed,” he said.

The former “Jeopardy!” host – who was succeeded by Thomas Gottschalk as presenter of “Wetten, dass ..?” in 1987 – told Der Spiegel he had no problems with being remembered as German TV’s Mister Nice Guy. “I have always opposed shows in which people are humiliated.”

“Wetten Spaß. Mein Leben, meine Gäste, meine Shows” follows the release of “Wer nach vorne schaut, bleibt länger jung” by Rudolf Walter and Henning Scherf. Another recent publication by Herder is “Musica”, a book about music in medieval times.

Wetten Spaß. Mein Leben, meine Gäste, meine Shows
By Frank Elstner and Melanie Mühl
Published by Herder (

Book look: war dramas, Willemsen and Prussia

“Verpasste Siege” tells from wrong decisions by and fatal misunderstandings among Austrian military leaders of the past centuries. In the new book, Hans-Dieter Otto recounts and analyses several decisive battles fought by troops of the Habsburg Empire and other former political leaderships of Austria. Some chapters of “Verpasste Siege” tell from occurrences in the 18th century while the most recent armed conflict mentioned in the book is World War One. Readers with substantial background knowledge will appreciate the accuracy of Otto’s writing. Interesting illustrations and informative maps are further assets of the book by the Berlin-born author whose 2003 release “Lexikon der Justizirrtümer” became a bestseller. “Verpasste Siege” is just the latest in a series of highly interesting publications by Residenz Verlag. It follows the release of Kurt Palm’s acclaimed novel “Die Besucher” and “Leopold Figl und seine Zeit”, a book about Austria’s first post-war chancellor by Hans Ströbitzer and Reinhard Linke.

Verpasste Siege. Tragische Niederlagen der österreichischen Kriegsgeschichte
By Hans-Dieter Otto
Published by Residenz Verlag (

Roger Willemsen has written a new book. After bestsellers such as “Deutschlandreise” and “Bangkok Noir”, the Bonn-born publicist, Willemsen focused on the small and major questions of life. The Grimme Award laureate – who published his first book 28 years ago before becoming the presenter of various TV shows on Germany’s biggest channels – writes about personal feelings, emotions and everyday occasions as well as changes in society. Once more, Willemsen makes it impossible to categorise his work which, thanks to his talent for great stories, wanders between the borders of classifications like essay and non-fiction. Readers will not be put off by this. They will, once more, rather endorse “Momentum” because of the author’s honest approach to sensitive issues and intimate experiences.

By Roger Willemsen
Published by S. Fischer Verlag (

In “Eine kleine Geschichte Preussens”, Eberhard Straub manages to summarise and explain 500 years of Prussian history on fewer than 200 pages and, as Jens Bisky emphasises in his foreword, he does so in a clear writing style. Bisky praises Straub’s decision not to give a verdict on the developments he describes in his book. The Neue Frankfurter Presse, a German newspaper, lauded the author – a historian and former Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung editor – for the same reasons. Several other books about Prussia and his emperor Friedrich der Große (Frederick II) have been released over the past few months to mark the 300th anniversary of the king’s birthday. “Eine kleine Geschichte Preussens” – now out by Stuttgart-based publishing house Klett-Cotta is a fine introduction into the matter. Straub’s book helps readers interested in history to get an overview of the often complex occurrences in the now defunct empire.

Eine kleine Geschichte Preussens
By Eberhard Straub
Published by Klett-Cotta (