“In Eco's latest work, we follow the exploits of a split-personality secret agent and forger who traipses around 19th-century Europe involving himself in many of the key events of the day. From Garibaldi's campaign for a united Italian Republic to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair, he plants bombs, attends black masses, and forges documents playing one conspiracy against another. As always, Eco spins this all into a riveting and engrossing tale.”
— Conrad Silverberg, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
The #1 international bestseller, from Umberto Eco, author of The Name of the Rose
“Vintage Eco . . . the book is a triumph.” – New York Review of Books
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?
“[Eco] demonstrates once again that his is a voice that compels our attention” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Choreographed by a truth that is itself so strange a novelist need hardly expand on it to produce a wondrous tale . . . Eco is to be applauded for bringing this stranger-than-fiction truth vividly to life.” – New York Times
“Classic Eco, with a difference.” – Los Angeles Times
About the Author
UMBERTO ECO (1932–2016) was the author of numerous essay collections and seven novels, including The Name of the Rose,The Prague Cemetery, and Inventing the Enemy. He received Italy’s highest literary award, the Premio Strega, was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government, and was an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
RICHARD DIXON lives and works in Italy. His translations include works by Umberto Eco, Roberto Calasso, and Giacomo Leopardi. His translation of The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2012.
"I find this book fascinating, perhaps the best Eco has written in years." —Huffington Post
"A well-executed thriller . . . provocative and suspenseful." —USA Today
"[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, "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