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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful as an aid to understanding congress personalities., 20 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and The Problems of Pea: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22 (Paperback)
Anyone interested in the Congress of Vienna or the history of modern Europe in general could do no better than read this book by Henry Kissinger, one of the most well-informed and influential statesmen of the post-war era. Written in 1957 before the author made his own name as a diplomat extraordinaire, this latest edition sports a cover design featuring the painting of The Congress of Vienna 1815 by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, the statesmen using chairs which have now found a home at the National Trust property Mount Stewart in County Down, Northern Ireland, where Castlereagh once lived.
Whilst the book is mainly a study of the art of diplomacy, Kissinger reviews the personalities of Metternich and Castlereagh as well as their policies. He takes into account their distrust of each other and the fascinating way in which their disparate attitudes to the preservation of peace in Europe forced them to manoeuvre, to co-operate and to cajole. He explains how, inevitably, diplomacy at its most basic is merely the adjustment of differences through negotiation and that peace is a state only attained and maintained by a very finely balanced legitimacy of workable, acceptable arrangements between nations, each of whom are at the same time aiming to keep their own interests in play.
Familiar names appear throughout the pages. Alexander, Talleyrand, Nesselrode, Clancarty, Cathcart, Stackelberg, all appear in context so that we are able to flesh out these characters whose bottoms once graced the Congress chairs! Charles, third Marquess of Londonderry, plays his part, Napoleon's one hundred days are essayed and the Battle of Waterloo discussed. We are forced to consider the proposition that, in the end, what we call peace is only the avoidance of war.
An extensive bibliography and basic reference list have prove useful. As well as the more serious biographies and war studies there are lighter works like Arthur Bryant's The Age of Elegance, an account of life in Britain 1812-22, and reminiscences of social life in Vienna by Comte a la Garde-Chambonas, a member of the French delegation, available in English.
A World Restored is never going to be recommended as holiday reading, except for insomniacs. However, I think it is a useful reference source for aiding our understanding of Castlereagh's political position in Europe, the complicated issues at the Congress of Vienna, and the consequences of its deliberations for Europe which, some say, influence events in the Balkans even today.
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