Books by Tad Szulc

Released: July 1, 2000

"Szulc (Chopin in Paris, 1998, etc.) flounders some as a novelist—underdeveloped people, awkward dialogue—but his research is abundant and persuasive."
Debut thriller by a veteran nonfiction writer, newsman, and pope-watcher (Pope John Paul II: A Biography, not reviewed).Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1998

Emphasizing Chopin's life and times rather than his music, Szulc's biography situates the composer and pianist extraordinaire within the circles of European artists, writers, and others who created the Romantic era. Award-winning journalist Szulc's (The Secret Alliance, 1991, etc.) exploration of Chopin's character focuses on the 18 years he spent in Paris. He sets his inquiry into the broader framework of Chopin's times, stressing the unique environment of budding Romanticism that the musician discovered when he eached Paris. This account is divided into three chronological sections, rather romantically labeled "Andante," "Rondo," and "Coda." The first serves as an introduction to Chopin's Polish-French background and the process by which he effected dramatic entry into French society. Szulc discusses the nature of Chopin's poor physical health and his questionable mental health, foreshadowing the mental crises and debilitating consumption that marked the last years of his short life. Next Szulc turns to the other two "protagonists" of this biography: the Age of Romanticism and George Sand. Chopin's famed seven-year affair with Sand is the stuff of legend, and Szulc admirably brings the two fascinating personalities to life through citations from letters and other biographers. Sand's forceful personality electrifies these pages and almost threatens to overwhelm the enigmatic and far more subtle Chopin. More problematic is Szulc's presentation of Chopin's milieu. His declaration that European Romanticism represented a unique and unprecedented merging of art and politics lacks clarity, as the politics of the moment are only superficially explained. His attempt to set Chopin within the Romantic movement isn't much helped by his prose, which intermittently exhibits a highly romantic (and somewhat awkward) tone. Despite stylistic weaknesses, Szulc's book offers a readable account of the most creative period of Chopin's life and of the many geniuses he rubbed shoulders with. He also gives a particularly fine impression of the startling effect that Chopin the pianist had upon his listeners. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1991

A well-researched, well-written account of the extensive covert activities that allowed two million Jews to steal home. Szulc (Then and Now, 1990; Fidel, 1986, etc.) provides ample atonement for an American Jewish community that stands self-accused of not doing enough for their European brethren during WW II. Between 1943 and 1991, American Jews and the relief organizations they formed helped rescue nearly two million Jews from Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. This narrowly focused study spotlights obscure heroes like Joe Schwartz of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Shaul Avigur of Mandate Palestine's Mossad. While Jews flooded allied displaced- person camps after the war to loudly press their humanitarian case before the world, agents of rescue performed the improbable in clandestine operations in Hungary, Egypt, and, most recently, Albania and Ethiopia. It is shocking to discover that thousands of dollars a head had to go from the Israeli secret service to the likes of Ceauescu and Saddam Hussein before Jews were allowed to be smuggled out to freedom. Only a reading of all 40 books in the bibliography could determine whether the reporter who broke the Bay of Pigs story has broken much new ground here, but Szulc has certainly succeeded in assembling the most readable book on the topic. (Photos—not seen.) Read full book review >