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The Fall of the House of Habsburg Paperback – January 27, 1983
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Top Customer Reviews
But Crankshaw is too good a writer, and too intelligent, to beat a hobbyhorse. He writes magisterially of Franz Josef's reign and the many personalities who came and went. His description of the Franco-Austrian war is particularly good.
Readable and humane -- not to be missed by anyone who enjoys history.
Proof of the universal appeal of this book and Crankshaw's writing style lies in the fact that this reviewer has read the book at three different times in his life (once as an undergraduate, another time at the conclusion of law school and yet another time about a year ago). Even though each of these three readings occurred at times when the reviewer's outlook and background on the subject matter was quite different, he derived pleasure and something new with each reading.
The Austrian monarchy had a dual problem unique to the Europe of the period: it was forced to thread its way through complicated foreign maneuverings; even more essential, it had to cope with and balance the multiple rivalries and interests of the ethnic groups that composed the Empire itself. Franz Josef, the decent and dedicated, if unimaginative, monarch slowly lost out on both counts. His rule, which lasted for 68 years, included wars lost first to Italy and France and then to Bismarck's Germany. Domestically, his ministers, many of them bumbling aristocrats, failed to come to grips with the rising nationalist ambitions of the Magyars and the varied Slavic language groups.
Crankshaw is not shy about exposing his biases. He admires Franz Josef `s courage and diligence while acknowledging his shortcomings. He takes an opposite view of Bismarck, respecting his brilliance, but recognizing the catastrophic long term damage his aggressiveness and militance brought to Europe. He despises the Magyars for their ruthlessness and narrow-minded assertion of their parochial interests.
Crankshaw crams a huge amount of historical detail into the space of 420 pages. Occasionally, his elaborate prose runs afoul of the point he is trying to convey. Occasionally, also, he assumes a greater background knowledge of the period than the reader is likely to bring. These, however, are minor flaws, in what is a grand and impressive historical narrative.
Even more than that this book is about Austria. Prior to Franz Josef's reign Austria was synonymous with the House of Hapsburg. The union with Hungary, in 1867, was both a positive factor and a negative factor, which saved Austria in the short run but doomed it in the long run. Mr. Crankshaw shows no pity on the Hungarians as the ultimate factor in the fall of the Hapsburg dynasty. Also the centrifugal force which was pulling the empire apart was nationalism. Nationalism was antithetical to the notion of a sovereign ruling many disparate peoples as their divinely appointed lord, liege king. Which Franz Josef sensed was inevitable after his passing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am still reading the book. It is slow reading but very detailedPublished 6 months ago by Eli Bensky
You cannot go wrong with Edward Crankshaw. His biography of that creep Bismarck is still definitive. His prose is clear and lucid, his research impeccable.Published 19 months ago by Rick
Well, maybe that's a silly title, but Crankshaw's book has to be compared with A.J.P. Taylor's and the latter was a professor. Read morePublished 23 months ago by reading man
Granted, the book is an older one; but, I was surprised that it was in poorer shape than indicated in the listing. Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by James A. Belteau
Clearly, Edward Crankshaw is a fluent, coherent, well informed writer. But it is equally clear he is not an academically trained historian, nor one who strives for objectivity. Read morePublished on April 25, 2013 by garwood
the book is detailed and it is packed with very important
data if you are interested in how the map of europe
evolved and especially the events leading up to
WWI. Read more