Frederic Morton and his family fled Austria in 1939 after his father was arrested by the Nazis but released. In 1940 they arrived in the USA and changed their name from Mandelbaum to Morton. Frederic first worked as a baker but in 1949 began to study literature. He has written for numerous American periodicals, mainly as a columnist, and has produced works of biography, fiction, and nonfiction. His family history The Rothschilds (1961) became an international best seller and was turned into a musical. His two books on his home city of Vienna, A Nervous Splendor (1979) and Thunder at Twilight (1989) have become classics.