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Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe by [Winder, Simon]
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Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Review

Praise for Simon Winder "Winder is an entertaining writer, and an erudite one." --Ian Brunskill, "The Wall Street Journal"

Praise for "Danubia

""As with his previous work "Germania", Winder describes this account as a 'personal history', allowing him space for whimsy, for a great deal of Haydn, for careful analysis of paintings and the freedom to favour certain emperors because they were interesting people rather than political heavyweights. It all makes for an excellent, rich and amusing read." --Roger Boyes, "The Times" (UK)

"[Winder's] personalized, almost you-are-there view of history results in an arresting combination of anecdote and scholarly examination, where the interests of serious armchair travelers and devoted students of European history meet." --Brad Hooper, "Booklist

"Praise for Simon Winder

"Winder is an entertaining writer, and an erudite one." --Ian Brunskill, "The Wall Street Journal"

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2013 Praise for "Danubia
""[Winder] never stops talking and rarely pauses for breath. Even then, however, you want to tell him: Forget about breathing and just go on talking. "Danubia" is a long book, yet this reader would not mind if it were longer still." --Andrew Wheatcroft, "The New York Times Book Review
""In a rollicking book that is part travelogue and part history, Winder takes up the unwieldy topic of the Habsburgs. The sprawling family empire ruled much of Europe for more than centuries, owing to a combination of 'cunning, dimness, luck, and brilliance.' From the Middle Ages until the end of the First World War, Winder writes, 'there was hardly a twist in Europe's history to which they did not contribute.' Winder, whose best-seller "Germania "took a similar approach to German history, explores the story of the dynasty and the lasting imprint of its reign by travelling the expanse of its former empire and giving a lively account of his research. He is thorough and funny, and the book is rich with anecdotes and enthusiastic appreciation, and it includes a broad survey of the artifacts and landscapes that tell the story of the family that laid the foundation of modern Europe." --Andrea Denhoed, Page-Turner, "The New Yorker" online
"Making five centuries of Habsburg history fun seems like a tall order, but Winder pulls it off. He entertains because he is entertained . . . With unrelenting wit--sometimes smirking but also self-mocking--he traces the Habsburgs' fortunes . . . What gives the text verve is Winder's ability to interweave the eccentric details of the Habsburgs themselves with an absorbing cultural history, driven by his exuberant passion for the lives and music of great composers and textured by his skillful physical descriptions of forgotten corners of the realm." "--Foreign Affairs
""With hearty dollops of humor in a unique blend of travel writing, historiography a

"Thorough and funny . . . Rich with anecdotes and enthusiastic appreciation."--"The New Yorker
"
"[Winder] never stops talking and rarely pauses for breath. Even then, however, you want to tell him: Forget about breathing and just go on talking. "Danubia" is a long book, yet this reader would not mind if it were longer still."--Andrew Wheatcroft, "The New York Times Book Review
""An engaging, often funny catalog of one man's eccentric enthusiasm for a country that he has come to love--somewhat to his own surprise . . . Winder is an entertaining writer, and an erudite one."--Ian Brunskill, "The Wall Street Journal
"
"A delightfully personal and engaging book . . . Winder's knowledge is as encyclopedic as his enthusiasm is childlike."--Roger K. Miller, "The Denver Post
"
"In a rollicking book that is part travelogue and part history, Winder takes up the unwieldy topic of the Habsburgs. The sprawling family empire ruled much of Europe for more than centuries, owing to a combination of 'cunning, dimness, luck, and brilliance.' From the Middle Ages until the end of the First World War, Winder writes, 'there was hardly a twist in Europe's history to which they did not contribute.' Winder, whose best-seller "Germania "took a similar approach to German history, explores the story of the dynasty and the lasting imprint of its reign by travelling the expanse of its former empire and giving a lively account of his research. He is thorough and funny, and the book is rich with anecdotes and enthusiastic appreciation, and it includes a broad survey of the artifacts and landscapes that tell the story of the family that laid the foundation of modern Europe."--Andrea Denhoed, Page-Turner, "The New Yorker" online
"Making five centuries of Habsburg history fun seems like a tall order, but Winder pulls it off. He entertains because he is entertained . . . With unrelenting wit--sometimes smirking but also self-mocking--he traces the Habsburgs' fortunes . . . What gives the text verve is Winder's ability to interweave the eccentric details of the Habsburgs themselves with an absorbing cultural history, driven by his exuberant passion for the lives and music of great composers and textured by his skillful physical descriptions of forgotten corners of the realm.""--Foreign Affairs
""As with his previous work "Germania," Winder describes this account as a 'personal history', allowing him space for whimsy, for a great deal of Haydn, for careful analysis of paintings and the freedom to favour certain emperors because they were interesting people rather than political heavyweights. It all makes for an excellent, rich and amusing read."--Roger Boyes, "The Times" (UK)
"Winder is a puppishly enthusiastic companion: funny, erudite, frequently irritating, always more in control of his material than he pretends to be, and never for a moment boring . . . "Danubia" is a moving book, and also a sensuous one: we feel the weight of imperial coins, hear and smell the 'medals and spurs clinking and everything awash in expensive gentleman's fragrances' as emperors and regiments meet at formal occasions. Winder says he researched it largely on foot, seeking out museums and castles, and listened to all 106 Haydn symphonies just to get in the mood . . . Miniaturist in its eye for detail, grand in its scope, it skips beats and keeps our attention all the way."--Sarah Bakewell, "The Financial Times
"
"Winder's amalgam of travelogue and personal history follows on from his bestselling account of Germany, "Germania," and is similarly infectious in its enthusiasms. In pages of cheerful, slang-dotted prose, "Danubia" dilates knowledgeably on the Habsburg dynasty as it flourished along the river from its source in Bavarian hills through Austro-Hungary and the Balkans to the Black Sea . . . "Danubia" is a hoot and well worth reading."--Ian Thomson, "The Independent" (UK)
"[Winder's] personalized, almost you-are-there view of history results in an arresting combination of anecdote and scholarly examination, where the interests of serious armchair travelers and devoted students of European history meet."--Brad Hooper, "Booklist"

Thorough and funny . . . Rich with anecdotes and enthusiastic appreciation. "The New Yorker"

[Winder] never stops talking and rarely pauses for breath. Even then, however, you want to tell him: Forget about breathing and just go on talking. "Danubia" is a long book, yet this reader would not mind if it were longer still. "Andrew Wheatcroft, The New York Times Book Review"

An engaging, often funny catalog of one man's eccentric enthusiasm for a country that he has come to love--somewhat to his own surprise . . . Winder is an entertaining writer, and an erudite one. "Ian Brunskill, The Wall Street Journal"

A delightfully personal and engaging book . . . Winder's knowledge is as encyclopedic as his enthusiasm is childlike. "Roger K. Miller, The Denver Post"

In a rollicking book that is part travelogue and part history, Winder takes up the unwieldy topic of the Habsburgs. The sprawling family empire ruled much of Europe for more than centuries, owing to a combination of 'cunning, dimness, luck, and brilliance.' From the Middle Ages until the end of the First World War, Winder writes, 'there was hardly a twist in Europe's history to which they did not contribute.' Winder, whose best-seller "Germania "took a similar approach to German history, explores the story of the dynasty and the lasting imprint of its reign by travelling the expanse of its former empire and giving a lively account of his research. He is thorough and funny, and the book is rich with anecdotes and enthusiastic appreciation, and it includes a broad survey of the artifacts and landscapes that tell the story of the family that laid the foundation of modern Europe. "Andrea Denhoed, Page-Turner, The New Yorker online"

Making five centuries of Habsburg history fun seems like a tall order, but Winder pulls it off. He entertains because he is entertained . . . With unrelenting wit--sometimes smirking but also self-mocking--he traces the Habsburgs' fortunes . . . What gives the text verve is Winder's ability to interweave the eccentric details of the Habsburgs themselves with an absorbing cultural history, driven by his exuberant passion for the lives and music of great composers and textured by his skillful physical descriptions of forgotten corners of the realm. "Foreign Affairs"

As with his previous work "Germania," Winder describes this account as a personal history', allowing him space for whimsy, for a great deal of Haydn, for careful analysis of paintings and the freedom to favour certain emperors because they were interesting people rather than political heavyweights. It all makes for an excellent, rich and amusing read. "Roger Boyes, The Times (UK)"

Winder is a puppishly enthusiastic companion: funny, erudite, frequently irritating, always more in control of his material than he pretends to be, and never for a moment boring . . . "Danubia" is a moving book, and also a sensuous one: we feel the weight of imperial coins, hear and smell the medals and spurs clinking and everything awash in expensive gentleman's fragrances' as emperors and regiments meet at formal occasions. Winder says he researched it largely on foot, seeking out museums and castles, and listened to all 106 Haydn symphonies just to get in the mood . . . Miniaturist in its eye for detail, grand in its scope, it skips beats and keeps our attention all the way. "Sarah Bakewell, The Financial Times"

Winder's amalgam of travelogue and personal history follows on from his bestselling account of Germany, "Germania," and is similarly infectious in its enthusiasms. In pages of cheerful, slang-dotted prose, "Danubia" dilates knowledgeably on the Habsburg dynasty as it flourished along the river from its source in Bavarian hills through Austro-Hungary and the Balkans to the Black Sea . . . "Danubia" is a hoot and well worth reading. "Ian Thomson, The Independent (UK)"

[Winder's] personalized, almost you-are-there view of history results in an arresting combination of anecdote and scholarly examination, where the interests of serious armchair travelers and devoted students of European history meet. "Brad Hooper, Booklist""

Book Description

Danubia is the brilliant and entertaining companion to the Sunday Times top ten bestseller Germania. It was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2013.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10142 KB
  • Print Length: 577 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Main market ed edition (12 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447241843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447241843
  • ASIN: B00DZQYGYC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,017 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another idiosyncratic, rollicking book, dealing with a highly complicated not to say confused subject: the history of the Habsburgs. Simon Winder achieves the virtually impossible: he manages to throw light on while retaining our interest in the doings of this family who exercised such enormous influence over large chunks of Europe through the ages. Obviously a sound historian he also has an impressive appreciation of the wider, cultural landscape in which the history is set. A gift much appreciated and sadly not shared by many other historians.
Highly enjoyable follow up to his Germania, highly recommended.
KC
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Format: Hardcover
For years I thought that I was the only person who had heard of Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen or Mecklenburg-Gustrow. So Simon Winder's book on Germany was proof that in my fascination with the old Holy Roman Empire I was by no means alone - and the fact that it became a well-deserved bestseller shows that either lots of other people out there prefer 15th century German small towns to getting sun poison on a Mediterranean beach or that Winder's brilliance convinced them that he (and I) were right after all.

Now comes the natural companion volume, on the Habsburg Empire, and it is fully worthy of its predecessor. No one was ever quite as wacky as the Habsburg dynasty, who managed to rule over most of Central Europe for a good 600 years, right down until 1918, and this book, that blends historical research, travellers' tales and the sheer enjoyment of the author, is the idea place to start for anyone who prefers Vienna to St Tropez, or Prague to the Ligurian Coast.

And in fact the book is just fun for anyone who loves accurate but popular history, enjoyable armchair travels and an old fashioned rattling good yarn.

And heard of Lower and Upper Austria? This book tells all you need to know about FURTHER Austria, and with its publication there will now be more than two of us for whom such places will be of total fascination.

Christopher Catherwood (Churchill and St Edmund's Colleges at Cambridge): [...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very personal history, more like a companion to the history of the Holy Roman Empire. The author doesn't pull any punches in his descriptions of the Emperors, most of whom were eejits.

You do need a reasonable history of Europe to get the best out of this; if you don't you will be totally lost very quickly. And you won't learn the sort of stuff that's needed for exams, but you will discover all the quirks of Europe, the strange half-forgotten trivia that makes life so interesting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The thing about this book is that the book edition has five maps which you need to refer to, to make sense of the text. But the Kindle edition lacks these, I ended up buying a second-hand edition of the paperback on eBay. It may be four times the thickness of my Kindle, but at least it makes sense.

Having said that the book is an ideal introduction into the intricacies and convulsions of central European history. It is VERY VERY complicated, and this book does go a long way towards explaining why it is so complicated - here's some examples

I became interested in the Empire as I was tracing my wife's parents, both born in the Empire during its last days. My father-in-law was was born in what was Stanislau or Stanisławów depending on whether you were ethnically German or Polish, became Ivano-Frankivsk, and is now Іва́но-Франкі́вськ. His parents were born in what they called Lemberg but has since been called Łviv, and most recently Львовv. My mother-in-law grew up in Gablonz and worked in Reichenberg, but these are now Jablonec nad Nissou and Liberec.

You need the maps to make sense of the text, and Kindle lacks them. You won't get the best out of this book if you start at the front cover and plough through the end. I read this book going back to re-read sections as my understanding grew, check the maps and so on - it's a delight - but only as a paper edition.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite my reservations, for the most part I enjoyed Simon Winder's latest volume on European history. Danubia is a vast subject gamely tackled by the author with great erudition and obvious love for the subject. It isn't quite as hilarious as some reviewers might suggest, but Winder's witty tone is very welcome in levitating what could otherwise be a very dry book.Winder is far less impenetrable and hard work than Claudio Magris in his imperious volume 'Danube' (recommendable to the brave reader!), but because of its very subject, Danubia still demands careful attention and a good memory to get the most from it. If you do make it through you will find it a rewarding and stimulating read that poses as many questions as it answers.
It was good of Winder to share his enjoyment of central European music and its place in societies across the region. If you are introduced to the works of Haydn (the over-written-about Mozart barely gets a mention!), Bruckner, Zemlinsky, or Bartok then Winder will not have written in vain. And in the same way some of the more obscure writers and poets he writes about seem to be worth investigating. He mentioned railways in passing but the fundamental impact of this mode of transport was not given the emphasis I thought it might have been. Still, for this one can always read Christian Wolmar's exemplary 'Blood, Iron and Gold - How the Raiilways Transformed the World', and in particular his 'Engines of War' which describes the some of the strategies used by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its enemies and the effects of the flow of battle, soldiers and refugees.
All the same, it seems churlish to criticise something so enthusiastic and well-researched as Danubia. Despite the richness of the contents, Simon Winder is let down by his editors in many respects.
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