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The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity 1812-1822 Paperback – 1969

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Press; 13th pr. edition (1969)
  • ASIN: B000NURRIA
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,374,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Knudsen on February 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
The author, Harold George Nicolson (1886-1968), served in the British Foreign Office from 1909 to 1929 prior to his impressive career as a scholar and writer. The present book was originally published in 1946 and clearly reflects Nicolson's diplomatic experiences. `The Congress of Vienna. A study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822' is a historical (re)construction of the background, negotiations and result of the Vienna Congress in 1814-15. This chronologically structured volume begins with Napoleon's abandonment of his troops on the Russian fields in December 1812 and ends with the collapse of the conference system after the Congress of Verona in 1822. This unusual periodization is due to the author's intention with the work, namely to present "an examination, in terms of the past, of the factors which create dissension between independent States temporarily bound together in a coalition" (p. 46). According to Nicolson, the formation of the final coalition (The Quadruple Alliance) that defeated Napoleon began in 1812 and was dissolved ten years later.
The main argument runs as follows: The basic principle that is required in order to establish an alliance is an agreement between at least two states to "subordinate their separate interests to a single purpose" (p. 49). In 1813 (as well as in 1914 and 1939) the purpose was the defeat of a common threat and enemy. However, once victory seems in reach, the common purpose begins to fade away on behalf of the separate interests of the allies. In other words, the constitutive element in the alliance is crumbling. The political controversials between the members are only brought to the surface once the war enters its final stage, even though the disinterests might have been latent all the way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Hanson on November 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
The book begins with Napoleon's retreat from Moscow in 1812, at the point when the rest of Europe realized that Napoleon could be beaten and they began to band together to do so. It ends ten years later with the last of the annual European Conferences and the suicide of Castlereagh. I'm passing familiar with the military history of these years, but that history is so not the point here--the Waterloo campaign gets all of three sentences: "On June 12 Napoleon left Paris determined at any price to prevent the junction of the Prussian and the British armies. On June 18 was fought the battle of Waterloo. On June 21 Napoleon returned to Paris a defeated man." No, this book is a study of international diplomacy and statesmanship OFF the battlefield, among and between the Allies and France; the eponymous Congress of Vienna does get pride of place, but is not the sole focus by any means.

Mostly a study of personalities: the suave Metternich, Henry Kissinger's hero in modern times; the club-footed Talleyrand, who changed sides within France as easily and as often as Lord Gro in "The Worm Ouroboros"; the mystical and reactionary Tsar Alexander; and mostly Castlereagh, the British Foreign Minister: glacial, inarticulate, overworked and depressed, and (so long as Britain's rule of the seas is not questioned, as indeed it wasn't) totally dedicated to a perfect balance of power. Maybe: Nicolson's sympathies are completely with Castlereagh and Britain (Britain's interests are "our" interests throughout the book), and it's not always clear, reading between the lines, that those interests were as absolutely impartial and altruistic as he makes them sound.

Note the date of publication.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Carr on June 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
The fact that this book has been so widely forgotten is a genuine tragedy -- because it is the only book that truly explains the workings of a major diplomatic conference by a participant in a later one (who also happened to be a very talented writer) ever committed to paper.
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By Alex Elizalde on November 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great!
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