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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good, deep history of an amazing dynasty
There's something here to delight any reader interested in European history, whether monarchist or republican. The Habsburg dynasty, sometime rulers of Austria, Germany, Spain, Tuscany and very briefly Mexico, were the consummate career monarchs. Wheatcroft's account deliberately ignores the large-scale events of European history, giving scant coverage to the three wars...
Published on 12 Nov 2003 by alextiefling

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mist over Marchfeld
Like the Danube, the course of central European history is not straightforward, and the Habsburg dynasty has channelled over six centuries of it. As an amateur, what I had sought, therefore, was an account that would collate the better known episodes, such as Charles V's abdication, the siege of Vienna, etc, and draw them into a single narrative. After the first chapter...
Published on 3 April 2012 by lixasyb


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good, deep history of an amazing dynasty, 12 Nov 2003
This review is from: The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire (Hardcover)
There's something here to delight any reader interested in European history, whether monarchist or republican. The Habsburg dynasty, sometime rulers of Austria, Germany, Spain, Tuscany and very briefly Mexico, were the consummate career monarchs. Wheatcroft's account deliberately ignores the large-scale events of European history, giving scant coverage to the three wars (Thirty Years, Spanish Succession, and First World War) which cost the dynasty so much of its power. Instead, he focusses on the characters of individual rulers, including some who are often overlooked, and on the iconography of the dynasty. Learn about the emperor Maximilian's literary works, the 'Plus Ultra' motto, and contemporary cartoons of the empress Maria Theresa. There are also some interesting details on Spanish culture in the inquisition era, one of the dynasty's times of infamy. The notes are almost a book in themselves, and well worth reading. The hardback edition has more pictures than the paperback, including colour plates and my favourite Habsburg picture, which shows the young Maria Theresa addressing sword-waving Hungarian diet members while holding her baby son. That said, the pictures in the paperback are good too. My only warning to readers is that they should have a dictionary of european history to hand, or some other source, to match up the wars and revolutions which Wheatcroft deliberately skirts around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars habsburg, 14 Nov 2012
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M. Baerends - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having read Mr. Wheatcroft's epic 'Enemy at the Gates' I did not hesitate a second about buying this one. This is an ambitious book given its scope. Sensibly, Wheatcroft did not attempt to write a 'complete' history of all the Habsburgs; instead he tried to find a commmonality across the ages. He seems to believe that there was a distinct 'something' common to all the Habsburgs across all those centuries but I cannot say that I was convinced. Surely all the Habsburg rulers were children of their own times and had far less in common with one another than with their contemporaries - for example it is very difficult to believe that, to pick a couple, Joseph II had anything more in common with Felipe II, than each had with their contemporary non-Habsburg rulers. Having said this, I still found this book interesting enough to make it worth the read. However, 'Enemy at the gates' is really much much better.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mist over Marchfeld, 3 April 2012
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Like the Danube, the course of central European history is not straightforward, and the Habsburg dynasty has channelled over six centuries of it. As an amateur, what I had sought, therefore, was an account that would collate the better known episodes, such as Charles V's abdication, the siege of Vienna, etc, and draw them into a single narrative. After the first chapter (38 pages) I have given up, having slithered back and forth between the earlier centuries to no avail. No shortage here of furiously detailed material, but in my view it produces no more than a Shakespearean medley of pomp, derring-do, dastardly deeds, pageantry and gore. For an objective appraisal of cited sources and, generally, a narrative coherence, I shall look elsewhere.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly for art historians!, 14 Sep 2014
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While there are some interesting parts to this book, the reader should be aware, this is not a history of the Habsburgs in the usual sense, but a discussion of the dynasty's use of image in creating its sense of empire. Therefore, while the book takes you through the general history of the most important Habsburg kings and emperors, it does not explain the historical backdrop, but only comment upon it. If you are looking to get a better picture of European history, than this book isn't for you. You really need to be familiar with it already to fully appreciate what you are reading.

Furthermore, the author does not take the time to fully differentiate between Holy Roman Emperors, kings, and other important Habsburgs. To do this you need to look at the family tree in the back of the book, but it is so small, packed and written in such tiny font, that it is too time consuming to find everyone you are looking for. And many of the interesting Habsburgs highlighted in Amazon's blurb about the book, barely get a mention in the actual narrative.

For a book written about images, is sorely lacking in them. So many times the author is discussing paintings and the like, but fails to give us an image so we can see it for ourselves. This book is wanting in so many places, I can not give it a strong recommendation. You may enjoy it if you like art history and have enough time to search the web for the images he speaks about yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have been smoother, 17 Sep 2013
An interesting and enlightening glide through the history of this fascinating and extraordinary family, who are still very much with us today. Despite the different and interesting perspective that he takes on their story, he still provides enough information to give the novice (like me) a useful insight into the subject, and a sense of their character as human beings. Even so, Wheatcroft tends to be needlessly verbose at times (do things really need to elide when they can merge?), and even a fairly experienced reader may feel the need to interrupt their reading to reach for a dictionary once in a while. The positing of the Battle of Sempach in 1386 at the beginning of the work, covering a total of some 18 of its first pages, is also a needless distraction. Over all, there are times when one suspects that Wheatcroft wishes to say more about himself than his subject matter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a very personal approach to the subject, worth reading, 28 Jan 2012
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although not the complete history of the dinasty in here, it makes a good and interesting read. the authors view is very personal, and there are some gaps in the history of the family, but its a good first approach for somebody interested in this subject.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A complete disappointment, 26 May 2000
By A Customer
Bearing in mind the fact that no book has ever before covered the entire Habsburg dynasty, one assumes that this book would make the effort to do so. Instead, this book tries to make a virtue of ignoring the major events and not telling the reader much about the lives of the major players. It prefers to concentrate on the art and architecture of the period and to construct a complicated mindset which the author claims to be one shared by all Habsburgs regardless of country of birth, upbringing and generation. In short, if you want a historical biography this is not the book for you. If you are interested in sets of descirptions of pictures you cannot see in the book combined with pyschobabble, then buy this book (off me, preferably so I don't have let it gather dust on my shelves!)
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and fascinating, 8 May 2002
Dr. Wheatcroft, a multilingual specialist in european and ottoman medieval history, has finally published one of his most elaborated works. The Habsbursg is the result of over 30 years of research, visiting different places and reading most of the previous publications on this field. The novelty of this work lies on its explanation of Continental Europe's history through the history of a family. This book might be boring for somebody who doesn't understand that the history of a country is the history of their people, and in the middle age the most influential people in Europe were
the Habsburgs. This unique family had, during 1.000 years, a very characteristic fashion of behaving, because an individual able to track his / her origins for 40 straight generations till the deepest roots of Europe has a very special perspective of history and his / her role in it. Dr. Otto von Habsburg, European Deputy and living heir of this imperial dynasty, has worked all his live in order to re-discover the concept of Europe, the same ideal tracked by his familiy by means of the Holy Roman Empire. In conclusion, for everybody interested in discovering what is behind the ideal of Europe (and its symbols, like the EU's flag), this book will be extraordinarily interesting.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars positively boring, 28 Jan 2002
In spite of its misleading title, this is not a history book. It consists mainly of lengthy descriptions of paintings and sculptures glorifying the Habsburgs, without the benefit of illustrations, and a boring theory on what the author thinks about the Habsburg mentality. Occasional historial vignettes illuminate briefly an otherwise monumentally tedious book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wheatcroft, Andrew; The Habsburgs, 3 July 2013
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I am well impressed with this and am really quite embarrassed to admit how little I genuinely know about another culture. Excellent for "dipping into" but a warning - 5 minutes can suddenly become 2 hours!
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The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire
The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire by Andrew Wheatcroft (Hardcover - 26 Oct 1995)
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