I've been reading two books at once over the holiday break: High Financier, a biography of Siegmund Warburg, and More Was Lost, the memoir of Eleanor Perenyi's wartime marriage to an Eastern European minor aristocrat, crumbling manor and all. Warburg is forced to leave his native Germany by the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler, and Perenyi chooses to flee the Kafka-esque scenario unfolding on the edge of the Iron Curtain as it sweeps down. In both books, much correspondence is exchanged on the subject of when to leave. Ancient systems of order and society were undone in a matter of months and years, and modernization hastened the demise of old customs as war annihilated the rest. Reliable information was extremely scarce. Describing a period of exile at the Ritz, Perenyi recalls, "It was a world where a Frenchman said to me, 'There will be no attack till spring. The mistresses of the Ministers have come back to Paris.'"