on 1 June 2005
This is a collection of essays, written over a 10-year period up unitl the end of WWII. The period they cover is longer still, starting with the fall of Napoleon, and ending with the final defeat of a far greater tyrant 130 years later.
Each essay covers either a particular figure (Bismark, Metternicht), event(1848, The Munich Conference), or ideal (Communism) and does so in chronological order. Thus creating a continuing narrative throughout this piece.
So what makes this book so enjoyable? Simply the utter disdain and lack of respect with which he treats each particular subject. To dismiss Metternicht as "silly man" or to say those that admire Napoleon "resent reality" shows a nerve and audacity (not to mention a wit) that few possess.
But it is not all critique, credit is given where credit is due. As in Bismark's case, the grand old man is given a sterling write up for his political and diplomatic verve.
At the end of the day, it shows the figures who shaped and controlled our destinies as men, rather than supermen. When you look at the TV or the Paper seeing their heirs gaze at us with their smug and cosy exteriors, it seems to be something we forget all too often.