Pollak’s Arm




October 16, 1943, inside the Vatican as darkness descends upon Rome. Having been alerted to the Nazi plan to round up the city’s Jewish population the next day, Monsignor F. dispatches an envoy to a nearby palazzo to bring Ludwig Pollak and his family to safety within the papal premises. But Pollak shows himself in no hurry to leave his home and accept the eleventh-hour offer of refuge. Pollak’s visitor is obliged to take a seat and listen as he recounts his life story: how he studied archaeology in Prague, his passion for Italy and Goethe, how he became a renowned antiquities dealer and advisor to great collectors like J. P. Morgan and the Austro-Hungarian emperor after his own Jewishness barred him from an academic career, and finally his spectacular discovery of the missing arm from the majestic ancient sculpture of Laocoön and his sons. Torn between hearing Pollak’s spellbinding tale and the urgent mission to save the archaeologist from certain annihilation, the Vatican’s anxious messenger presses him to make haste and depart. This stunning novel illuminates the chasm between civilization and barbarism by spotlighting a now little-known figure devoted to knowledge and the power of artistic creation.

Watch a video of author Hans von Trotha discussing Pollak’s Arm with historian David Kertzer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Pope and Mussolini, at an event sponsored by Rizzoli Bookstore and the Centro Primo Levi in New York. Click here to watch.

A Very German Christmas




The fifth volume in our popular Very Christmas series, this collection brings together traditional and contemporary holiday stories from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. You’ll find classic works by the Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hermann Hesse, Joseph Roth, and Arthur Schnitzler, as well as more recent tales by writers like Heinrich Böll, Peter Stamm, and Martin Suter. Eine fröhliche Weihnachten—A Merry Christmas—made all the more festive with these literary treats redolent of candle-lit trees, St. Nikolaus, gingerbread, the Christkindl, roast goose and red cabbage, Gugelhopf, and stollen cakes, accompanied by plenty of schnapps.

Joseph Roth’s story “Christmas in Cochinchina,” published in English for the first time in this collection, appears in the December 2020 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Please consider other volumes in this series: A Very French Christmas, A Very Russian Christmas, A Very Italian Christmas, A Very Irish Christmas, A Very Scandinavian Christmas and A Very Mexican Christmas.

Animal Internet




A bestial Brave New World is on the horizon: Some 50,000 creatures around the globe—including whales, leopards, flamingoes, bats and snails—are being equipped with digital tracking devices. The data gathered and studied by major scientific institutes about their behavior will not only aid in conservation efforts and warn us about tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but radically transform our relationship to the natural world. With a broad cultural and historical lens, this book examines human ties with animals, from domestic pets to the soaring popularity of bird watching and kitten images on the Web. Will millennia of exploration soon be reduced to experiencing wilderness via smartphone? Contrary to pessimistic fears, author Alexander Pschera sees the Internet as creating a historic opportunity for a new dialogue between man and nature.

Foreword by Martin Wikelski, Director, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. The book includes eight color photos and an index.

Excerpted in Scientific American magazine.