From Publishers Weekly
Leaders from the world's five major diplomatic forces—Great Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia—convened in Vienna in 1814 to found a new order for post-Napoleonic Europe. Historian King (Finding Atlantis
) calls it the greatest and most lavish party in history, at which delegates would plot, scheme, jockey for position, and, in short, infuriate each other as they competed in affairs of state and the heart. King covers the diplomatic wrangling well, particularly over the fates of Poland, Saxony and the Kingdom of Naples. His greater strength is in depicting the personalities and motivations of the key players, such as Metternich's daring love affair with a baroness and Czar Alexander I's growing reliance on a German mystic. Despite endless parties, the Congress achieved pioneering work in culture and human rights, including Jewish rights and a vote to abolish slavery. Most important, it established alliances that defeated Napoleon's attempt to regain power in 1815 and helped foster a spirit of cooperation that, in some ways, has still not been surpassed. King's fine work is not quite as scholarly as the book it recalls, Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919
, but it is more deftly paced and engagingly written. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.)
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“King reveals his talent for narrative flow and portraiture in a biography that will thoroughly inveigle history readers.”
“A teeming…personality-rich panorama of the first truly international peace conference.”
“A fascinating tale that shines light on a unique aspect of the relationship between scholarship and nationalism.”
"It would have been more fun to attend the Congress of Vienna than any other political assembly in history. Next best is to immerse yourself in David King's Vienna 1814
, which reads like a novel. A fast-paced page-turner, it has everything: sex, wit, humor, and adventures. But it is an impressively-researched and important story that it tells. There was much frivolousness in the Vienna congress, but it did bring peace to Europe and shape the 19th century; and while the deliberations of the Vienna statesmen took place, the fate of the world hung in the balance."
—David Fromkin, author of Europe’s Last Summer
“Deftly paced and engagingly written.”
“King does a superb job of evoking the bedazzling social scene that served as the backdrop to the Congress of Vienna. This is a worthy contribution to the study of a critical historical event long neglected by historians. It should be in every European history collection.”
—Library Journal, starred review