Stalin's Nose: Across the Face of Europe by Rory MacLean
Rory MacLean's uncle was a Soviet spy, his aunt a faded Austrian aristocrat. They lived in furious, frustrated retirement in a rambling house filled with animals in Potsdam, Prussia's Versailles. In their youth they stole secrets from Stalin and changed history. He visited them briefly as he passed through Berlin en route from the Baltic to the Black Sea. He was travelling along the line of the old Iron Curtain, writing about the Eastern European revolutions. But his aunt, a vivacious eccentric, would not be left behind. In her rattling Trabant, accompanied by her pet pig, they moved across the continent, following the threads of memory. Her remarkable East European relations - the angel of Prague, a Hungarian grave digger, a dying Romanian propagandist - help tie together the loose ends of her life. They picknicked at Auschwitz, they met Lenin's embalmer and they visited an improverished Czech town. This book is a documentary of their journey and a history of Eastern Europe. Its portrayal of subjugated peoples at a time of great change, of their fears of the past and hopes for the future, illustrates the icy comedy of human existence.