The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918. A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria -Hungary. Paperback – 1967
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A J Taylor concentates too much on politics instead of overall prosperity including economy etcPublished 7 months ago by D. Baird
Excellent book typical of AJP Taylor, explains a great deal of how Austria survivedPublished 9 months ago by Rats Chandler
I found this book to be very complying and left on edge with every chapter. I would recommend this book with anyone to read this very great book.Published on 12 Jan. 2014 by Bobby Boy
Its been decades since I first read this, and I rather expected it to be dated. Not a bit of it. I am doing some work on Hapsburg Hungary, and found AJP's book to be just as... Read morePublished on 28 July 2013 by Amazon Customer
The author has extensive knowledge of the minutiae of Habsburg History, far to much for the interested lay person. Makes the text dry and boring.Published on 15 Feb. 2013 by Heidi Cooke