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Schlepping Through the Alps

My Search for Austria's Jewish Past with Its Last Wandering Shepherd

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Hans Breuer, Austria’s only wandering shepherd, is also a Yiddish folksinger. He walks the Alps, shepherd’s stick in hand, singing lullabies to his 625 sheep. Sometimes he even gives concerts in historically anti-Semitic towns, showing slides of the flock as he belts out Yiddish ditties.

When New York-based writer Sam Apple hears about this one-of-a-kind eccentric, he flies overseas and signs on as a shepherd’s apprentice. For thoroughly urban, slightly neurotic Sam, stumbling along in borrowed boots and burdened with a lot more baggage than his backpack, the task is far from a walk in Central Park. Demonstrating no immediate natural talent for shepherding, he tries to earn the respect of Breuer’s sheep, while keeping a safe distance from the shepherd’s fierce herding dogs.

As this strange and hilarious adventure unfolds, the unlikely duo of Sam and Hans meander through a paradise of woods and high meadows toward awkward encounters with Austrians of many stripes. Apple is determined to find out if there are really as many anti-Semites in Austria as he fears and to understand how Hans, who grew up fighting the lingering Nazism in Vienna, became a wandering shepherd. What Apple discovers turns out to be far more fascinating than he had imagined.

With this odd and wonderful book, Sam Apple joins the august tradition of Tony Horwitz and Bill Bryson. Schlepping Through the Alps is as funny as it is moving.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

17 January 2005 – Wandering shepherds, anti-Semitism, sexual insecurities and a scythe-wielding Austrian all play a part in Apple's lukewarm debut, but most prominent is his own neurotic personality as he explores the life of Hans Breuer, a Yiddish folksinging shepherd in modern-day Austria. The book begins with Salon writer Apple attending one of Breuer's concerts in New York City, and continues as Apple travels to Austria to shepherd with Breuer, learn more about Breuer's Jewish background, and investigate the current political climate in Austria and what Apple finds to be its underlying anti-Semitic leanings. Apple's intentions for this work seem clear, but as he jumps from topic to topic shepherding, Breuer's personal history, his own failed relationships and a brief affair with a woman he meets in Vienna, Austria's political past and present the book loses any comprehensive theme. While the work's subtitle promises insight into a country that rarely attracts attention, Apple tends to diminish his cultural discoveries with such blithe comments as, "Let all the young attractive women in the country work through their guilt in bed with me." Apple is at his best recounting his childhood growing up Jewish in Texas with his grandmother, and while these reminiscences are short, they offer the most insight. Photos. (On sale Mar. 29)
Schlepping Through the Alps
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  • 13,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Europe
  • Published: 29 March 2005
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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