THE MAN IN THE TOWER – J. Sydney Jones

Syd Jones’ blog, Scene of the Crime ( offers insights into one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe.  On November 15, Syd posted about his newest book, The Man In The Tower, that relates experiences and stories of eastern Europe after the end of the Cold War.  One of the stories is set in Prague, Czechoslovakia in the early 1970’s, just after Prague Spring, the student uprising.   In 1971, I was in Dublin, Ireland taking some courses and a member of my social group was from Bratislava.  Trinity College offered him a scholarship to continue work on his graduate degree.  He went to London to ask for permission to remain in Ireland.  After three days, he was told that his request was denied.  When he returned to Dublin, his new friends, Americans, western Europeans, and a man from India, were incensed at the absurdity of the refusal.  We suggested he stay anyway.  We were beyond naive.  His family were hostages to guarantee his return; that was the hook when he was given permission to leave Czechoslovakia.

Fans of this blog know that I occasionally post remembrances of Vienna and Europe during the final decades of the Cold War. These have always gotten a good response–good enough that I have gathered some of these together (plus a long short story) for a memoir now available as an Amazon Kindle.

Here is the blue-eyed refugee from the Biafran War, Ubhani, the man in the tower of the title, seeking asylum in the Austrian capital; the Hungarian patriot who pays his own special tribute to the 1956 uprising; the nondescript state police agent commissioned to watch foreigners in neutral Austria to ensure they did not ruffle the feathers of the Soviets; the editor of a prestigious Viennese publishing house none too eager to do business with a brash young Ami.

Travel back to Czechoslovakia just months after the Soviet’s brutal suppression of Prague Spring in’68; to guard towers along the waist-deep waters of a lake on the Austro-Hungarian border; to a cozy armchair at the British Council Library; to an all-purpose Tabak Trafik: to life in a Cretan cave; or to the final voyage of the SS France.

An added bonus is the short story, “Body Blows,” which introduces Sam Kramer, the foreign correspondent protagonist from my new series of novels set in Europe following the fall of the Wall.

Cover art is by a talented graphic artist, Peter Ratcliffe.

And hey, at $4.99, what’s not to like?


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