Profile for Eric Schallenberg > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Eric Schallenberg
Top Reviewer Ranking: 42,541
Helpful Votes: 216

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Eric Schallenberg (Paris, Europe)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
pixel
Imperial Adventurer: Emperor Maximilian of Mexico
Imperial Adventurer: Emperor Maximilian of Mexico
by Joan Haslip
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and highly readable, 23 Jun 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Mexican Empire of Maximilian of Austria is strangely enough one of history's largely neglected episodes. Even most books on France's Second Empire - the driving force behind the whole undertaking - don't give it more than a cursory treatment. It is telling that this more or less latest book on the subject was written exactly 40 years ago.

My advice after reading this book however is: get a copy while one is still available second-hand, because the story of Mexico's Empire makes for fascinating reading. In the two years of its existence it had more high drama, intrigues, swahbuckling and political double-dealing than most other countries get in a century. Moreover, the story is told by an author who combines excellent research and analysis with a first rate narrative style and a sharp eye for the telling anecdote.

The first part of the book answers the question what caused the Archduke Maximilian of Austria to assume the imperial crown of Mexico - basically Montezuma's crown, since Maximilian's predecessors had been the King of Spain and after that, a great number of presidents, none of whom had lasted for more than a year - a country in the midst of civil war, completely bankrupt and with a ruling class where liberals, conservatives en the clergy were constantly at each other's throats.

The author describes in vivid detail how Maximilian - by inclination primarily a botanist and butterfly-collector - was never more than a pawn in the hands of an Imperial brother who wanted him out of the way because of his liberal leanings, a French emperor who needed someone to recoup the huge investments made in Mexico and last but not least a highly ambitious wife for whom an imperial crown was worth almost any risk. It didn't help that Maximilian had not a single level-headed adviser to counterweigh their pressure, that he thought that figures and complicated documents were tedious and that the group of Mexican émigrés who offered him the crown had for the larger part not set foot in Mexico in the last 20 years and fed him higly optimistic and often completely false information.

This was not to say that Maximilian was not warned. Unfortunately he was the kind of man to ask advice from too many people and invariably taking that of the last person he spoke to. Usually that was his wife, which did not really help. Even so, it finally dawned on him that he was getting himself into a hornet's nest and tried to bow out, only to be reminded by Napoleon III that one of the tedious documents that he had signed in his presence without reading was a promise to go, on the basis of which a multimillion loan had been floated and which could outherwise never be repaid.

And so the newly created Emperor of Mexico went, using the voyage to write a huge manual on court etiquette and discussing whether Mexican worthies should be created Duke of Chihuahua of Prince of Veracruz. And without a single concept of how to rule once he got there, apart from the general feeling that reasonable men of good will should be able to work things out. Sadly for him, it soon transpired that reason and good will were in extremely short supply. With Maximilian being basically a sheep in sheep's clothing, the infighting proved as bad as the fighting that had to be done outside.

The end of his empire showed however his personal courage, never more so when he had to finally face the firing squad. His wife, sent to Europe in a last-ditch attempt for help, paid another price: faced everywhere with only the stone walls of polite refusal her her mind gave out and she spent the next 60 years in psychiatric care.

A thrilling story, excellently researched and a total page-turner. Highly recommended!


Jenny's Backdoor Lust
Jenny's Backdoor Lust
by Betty Bowman
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 22 Aug 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jenny's Backdoor Lust (Paperback)
The set-up of this story might have made for a hot little book: castle-cum-hotel, two late-thirtees couples running it, newlywed guests with lusts as described in the title, the 18-year old maid who supposedly is in for anything, hypnotism making people shed their inhibitions....this book should be self-combustible. But then the writer decided to write a nice little Harlequin novel with action largely of the plain vanilla variety and half of the characters only engaging in conversation. The maid very sensibly spends all her energy keeping the castle clean. Should you think the lady on the cover is not made to look very attractive: the rest of the illustrations really show what lack of talent in combination with lack of formal training can achieve. And the backdoor action? Twice, the second time a few lines on the very last page. But this book is about love and feelings, so I shouldn't complain. For others who might consider buying this book for its title: my advice is to steer clear.


Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1783
Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1783
by Brendan Simms
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.39

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the serious student of the period, 9 Dec 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is not a book that you will read in one go. Reason for this is, that we are not dealing with events but with a 700-page analysis of events that the reader is considered to be already fairly familiar with. Since these events concern the ever-shifting alliances from 1700 to 1783 between France, Russia, Austria, England, Hanover and the many other German principalities plus the different approaches to them by the Georges, the Whigs and Tories respectively, you can understand that without a basic knowledge knowledge of 18th century European history this book will give you a hard time. The "defeat" (the loss of the American colonies) is again, an analysis of the reason for British taxes and American complaints and how shifting alliances influenced the actions of other countries vis-a-vis this conflict, not a description of the liberation war itself.

Although mr. Simms has taken a lot of trouble to keep this book as accessible as possible for a more general readership, I consider this book mainly of interest to the serious students of this period. This group of readers will find solid and thought-provoking analysis, well written.


Interesting Times (Discworld)(The Seventeenth Discworld novel)
Interesting Times (Discworld)(The Seventeenth Discworld novel)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely one of his better books, 1 Dec 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Mr. Pratchetts more recent books are a far cry from the original formula: wild and crazy adventure stories with a lot of situation comedy, dialogue and writers' notes that made you laugh out loud. This one still adheres (and very succesfully at that) to the original formula: in this case, a totally hilarious spoof on Ghengiz Khan's conquering of China. It is - even among Terry Pratchetts books - one of those rare books that can be re-read once a year and still be very funny and a joy to read. Highly recommended!


The Vertigo Years: Change And Culture In The West, 1900-1914
The Vertigo Years: Change And Culture In The West, 1900-1914
by Philipp Blom
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars solid rather than popular history, 3 Nov 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I must confess to having been taken in by the adjectives used by the editors and reviewers like 'breathtaking', 'anecdotal' and 'compulsive'. Basically, this is very solid history writing by someone who repeatedly assumes that the reader will nod sagely when reading lines like:"There is an obvious kinship between Einstein's radical relativity of space and time and Ernst Mach's epistemological impressionism" without getting further information on the subject.

It is of course extremely flattering to be repeatedly treated as a highbrow intellectual, but to mere mortals this doesn't always make the book unputdownable. And I do agree with the reviewer remarking that the year-by-year division of the chapters is arbitrary and often illogical. The author moreover repeatedly has trouble sticking to his own chosen format.

This book does get the message across that 1914 was no abrupt break from a sleepy 19th century or easygoing fin-de siecle way of living, but that the previous years were a period of unprecedented development and innovation. Anecdotal or witty is however not how I would describe the narrative style. Rather: a serious book for the serious student of the era.


Rock Confidential: A Backstage Pass to the Outrageous World of Rock'n'Roll
Rock Confidential: A Backstage Pass to the Outrageous World of Rock'n'Roll
by Coral Amende
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good fun, 1 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you consider your rock-heroes demigods, you will no doubt bewail the 'juvenile' pleasure that the editors derived from saving the antics and self-proclaimed wit and wisdom for posterity. If you are however prepared to see them as people who are often way too self-indulgent and much too full of themselves, you will have a great time reading this book. I only deduct one star since with the passing of time since this book came out, you won't find too many juicy bits on the younger generation of rock and pop stars. Still, very good fun.


Two Flappers in Paris (Blue Moon)
Two Flappers in Paris (Blue Moon)
by Jack W
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.55

1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 1 Aug 2009
Elderly Edwardian readers derived no doubt a lot of tintillation from the mere fact that two upper-class young British ladies were brought into this den of iniquity. But that is all the tintillation you will get from this book. And you will be introduced to "every conceivable" sex act only if the good ol' up-and-down is all that you can conceive. If this book was a major hit at the time - and it apparently was - it only shows how far we have come since then.


The Diary of a Sex Fiend
The Diary of a Sex Fiend
by Christopher Peachment
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 31 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Leave this book on your nightstand and you will fall asleep with a big grin on your face for months to come. Christopher Peachment, reclining as he informs us "on a divan made of Persian saddlebags, chewed to baby-skin softness by his seraglio of lightly-clad 'work experience' slaves" offers us a compilation of his monthly columns full of scurrilous anecdotes and hilarious observations. He is moreover not afraid to be politically incorrect and will happily call a spade a spade when anyone in the limelight is making a fool of him-/herself in the field of morals or sexuality. Highly recommended!


American Prince: My Autobiography
American Prince: My Autobiography
by Tony Curtis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.15

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No fun read, really, 6 Jun 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Given that Tony Curtis always was on the prowl where Hollywood actresses (or basically anything wearing a skirt) were concerned, it is a voyeuristic pleasure reading this biography; even if by now you have to google many of the women mentioned in the book in order to find out what they looked like in their heyday.

But there the good news ends, unfortunately. Tony Curtis totally lacks the self-depreciation, the sense of humour or the narrative talent that make David Niven's reminiscenses on the golden years of Hollywood such fun to read. As mentioned by other reviewers, Tony Curtis comes across as very full of himself, never happier than when fans screamed his name or yet another woman fell for his repeatedly self-proclaimed good looks.

His ghostwriter in my view totally fails in turning the material he had to work with into anything like a rollercoaster ride. Whether this is because Tony tried to save a penny in selecting a good ghostwriter or because he kept getting in the ghostwriters way I don't know. But the result is a "Then I did this, then I did that, then I did something else" sequence of events that completely failed to captivate me.

If you basically just want to know about the women Tony Curtis slept with, this is the book for you. As a story on the golden years of Hollywood, many - if not most - books on the subject have been better written than this one.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2012 12:23 PM BST


No Title Available

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lust in the lodge, 9 Oct 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Three beautiful young women vacationing in a mountain lodge encounter two escaped convicts who have their wicked way with them in various interesting and graphically described ways. As the Introduction to this book puts it, they come out eventually "with a new insight in themselves, an insight that is almost revelatory in nature".

Luckely for the readers, this insight basically boils down to the girls discovering that there is no sexual variation that doesn't turn them on tremendously. Rod Waleman is in fine form and as long as 'forced' nature of the sex doesn't offend your finer feelings, you will find this a very hot read.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5