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The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918. A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria -Hungary. Paperback – 1967

4.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1967
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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin (Peregrine) (1967)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001E3AVSS
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,213,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Like AJP Taylor's other books written in the 40/50s, this is an immensely intelligent and investigated piece of work yet difficult to read. Some of the information is shocking, and gives great perspective to subsequent events. For example, to question what the Sudeten Germans were doing before 1918, why Trieste was considered Italian (Italian was a naval language of the earlier period), or similiarly, to examine the real racial history of balkans. Most shocking of all perhaps, the observation that German was almost a "class" in central europe. So, an excellent book which really enlightens the reader. However, I found it difficult to read in sessions of more than thirty pages, mostly because of the blow-by-blow account (same as Struggle for Mastery in Europe) that predates his improved writing style of the 60s, such as Origins of the Second World War. Still, I am immensely positive about the book.
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Format: Paperback
This book, first published in the late 1940s, traces the policy of the Austrian emperor and his ministers. It is a brilliantly analytical study of the empire's weaknesses and the problems of holding together and governing a collection of lands and peoples with nothing in common beyond having been acquired at some point in history by the Habsburg dynasty. The book is not, and doesn't attempt to be, a general history of Austria-Hungary in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Tension builds as the end approaches and Taylor's epilogue, summarising events in Central Europe after 1918, foretells in an almost uncanny way events since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as I'd studied the First World War extensively, but just wanted a bit of background to what led up to the conflict from a different (non-British) perspective, particularly in the nineteenth century. Just prior to reading this book I'd read The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919 , which covers the conflict on the Italian Front, largely between Austria-Hungary and Italy, very well. Therefore I was looking to find out more about Austria-Hungary in the lead up to 1914.

AJP Taylor is a very well respected historian, but I feel that this book just does not cover a number of key events in any detail at all. For example, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 gets only a passing mention. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 as far as I recall does not even get mentioned at all in the book. The book focuses entirely on the political struggle between peasants, gentry and magnates (get used to those three words if you buy the book) of different nationalities trying to assert their supremacy over other nationalities. The Emperor's interactions with his most prominent ministers are discussed in great detail also. Personally I was left wanting to find out a little bit more about the economic and social conditions within the Habsburg Monarchy. I wanted more detail about the various conflicts which either directly involved the Habsburg Monarchy, or indirectly had a great affect upon it.

All in all this is a well written book, but if your knowledge of the subject is quite poor, as mine was before I picked up this book, you will need to do more background reading to gain a full understanding of the Habsburg Monarchy in this period.
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Format: Paperback
Mr Taylor compared the Habsburg monarchy to the plaster cast around a broken limb, in that while it sustained Eastern Europe, it had to be shattered to bring freedom. Now that the region has broken free of the Communist cast, his book provides an excellent study of the region and its place in the Balance of Power.
The book punctures many myths, not least the 'inevitabilist' view, that Austria was destined to collapse no matter what. The epilogue dealing with the postwar problems of the replacement multinationals, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, is particularly prescient, forecasting the difficulties both of these states would face. There is a very slight bias in favour of the Czechs and Serbs, but the overall picture is fair and balanced. I cannot recommend it too highly.
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Format: Paperback
Very heavy going, not at all like the 1st and 2nd world war books of his and the maps/social delimitations are far and few between. One must stay concentrated but I'm hoping for further enlightenment of this centralised and therefore (socially/political)influential power.
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By Petrolhead VINE VOICE on 17 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is showing its age and it's very hard work. I have no doubt that AJP Taylor was a top-notch historian and if you need a reference work for your history exams this is probably gold dust. But I found it almost impossible to read.
Ironically, it might be easier going if it was longer.
"The Habsburg Monarchy" rattles along at high-speed, a chronological storm of facts and events, but recorded so dispassionately that it reads a little like a the synopsis of a particularly complex opera. The author is evidently immersed in his subject and he expects you to keep up. But his narrative is dry, and there are no syrupy asides to wash it down with. Even the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is dealt with in single matter-of-fact paragraph which focuses on the policy implications.
Taylor does not venture into "popular history", such as telling us how politics affected the ordinary people and vice versa, but sticks to describing the forces at the highest level of diplomacy. He has the infuriating and outdated tendency to say "Germany thought X" and to call countries "she" as if there were no real people involved. He also chucks around a lot of words like "fronde" or "ultramontane", which he uses to imply certain things - things that were completely lost on me. Other words, such as "Jagellon" or "jacquerie", may have been familiar to his readers in 1947. Now they raise a tiny glimmer of recognition, so an explanatory footnote might have been nice.
This book may suit people who already know the subject and want a quick refresher. But for anyone starting out and looking for a deep and sympathetic understanding of how and why events unfolded, especially an easy read, I cannot recommend it.
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