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The Army of Francis Joseph First Thus Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1557531452
ISBN-10: 1557531455
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About the Author

Gunther Rothenberg was the world's leading authority on the Napoleonic Wars. He served with the British, Israeli and US Military and was Professor of History at Purdue University in the USA. He was the leading English-speaking historian of warfare in the German-speaking lands. His many distinguished works include The Army of Francis Joseph and The Hapsburg Military Frontier.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Purdue University Press; First Thus edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557531455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557531452
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,577,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on October 16, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Army of Francis Joseph is a scholarly examination of the Hapsburg (Austrian) army during the period 1815-1918. This army was primarily designed to safeguard the stability of the Hapsburg Dynasty and during this period, the Dynasty was primarily reflected in the 68-year reign of the Emperor Francis Joseph. Gunther E. Rothenberg, a professor at Purdue University, is an acknowledged expert on the Austrian military and he has unearthed a wealth of information from Austrian archives about this heretofore-neglected army. Furthermore, the examination of Austria-Hungary's security situation from 1867-1914 is critical in understanding much of the political and military background to the First World War. Rothenberg concludes that in the end, while the Hapsburg army was never among the best armies in Europe, it fought hard and did it's professional duty to the dynasty despite difficult circumstances.
The Army of Francis Joseph consists of fourteen chapters and an epilogue. The author also provides a detailed list of sources and endnotes. However, the lack of any maps, charts or photographs does not make this a "user-friendly" book. For example, while the author provides considerable data in the text on important items like Austrian military budgets, army strengths, and ethnic composition of the military, he does not compile this information into tables or charts. Thus if the reader wants to determine how Austrian military spending changed over the 19th Century or the army demographics changed, one must be prepared to flip a great many pages and keep a notepad handy. While the author's intent was an organizational study rather than a campaign history, a few maps of the main campaign areas would have been appreciated.
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By A Customer on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is probably the best available treatment of the last seventy years of the Hapsburg Army. Rothenburg has in essence waded through an immense amount of material that would otherwise have remained undigested in unreadable regimental histories or official studies, and the result straddles the line between popular historical entertainment and readability. Few books that try to do this succeed, but Rothenburg manages it pretty well, particularly when you stop to consider what a truly esoteric subject he's covering. The real value of the work is, however, not so much in the style- M1A1 military-political history- as it it in the fact that Rothenburg is almost the only modern scholar to study it. While the book itself is a good general guide and outline to the politics and (to a lesser degree) the doctrinal and technical development of the kUk Army, it is an essential starting point for the more serious scholar. The bibliography and endnotes are a goldmine of references, not only memoirs but some archival information that will be useful to the researcher interested in doing work in the field.
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By A Customer on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
this is a truly wonderful book that will appeal to two types of readers. those who want to understand the decline and fall of the hapsburg monarchy will treasure a detailed and lucid explanation of the political and social role played by the army. against the rising tide of nationalism in the 19th century, the army was a source of unity for two reasons. one, the army used force to keep the empire intact. two, the army was a symbol of unity and an institution in which, generally, the various ethnic groups of the hapsburg lands were treated equally. rothenburg does a very good job of explaining how this symbol was able to keep the empire intact, despite loosing major wars, yet how it ultimately succumbed to separatist sentiments, especially those of the magyars.
those who want to understand why the hapsburgs lost three consecutive majors wars (austro-italian, austro-prussian, ww1) will also be enlightened. the hapsburg role in these three struggles makes little sense unless one understands the political role of the army, a point that rothenburg stresses. the hapsburgs were a declining power hopelessly trying to hang on to great power status and this was reflected in the army. the army's failure to modernize and to learn from past mistakes were clearly noted by rothenburg. this failure ultimately led to final defeat in ww1, after which the empire was in such disarray that it could not prevent its dismemberment at the hands of its enemies.
this book is not an account of the campaigns of the hapsburg army. it is, however, a detailed study of its operation, structure, funding, recruiting, and role in the life of the empire during its decline. i highly recommend this book for students of 19th century military history and general central european history.
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Format: Paperback
I carried a battered old hardbound copy of Gunther Rothenberg's "The Army of Francis Joseph" with me all through the days when I was finishing my doctoral thesis. It was always there on my table in the Vienna Kriegsarchiv while I was researching the nationality issue in the k.-u.-k. armies. Rothenberg's book was-- and remains --an invaluable introduction to the armies of the later Habsburg Monarchy.

I will agree with other reviewers here that the book is sadly lacking in maps and diagrams and charts, and Rothenberg neglects the economic reasons for the stagnation of the Monarchy's armies from the 1880s onward. He also gives insufficient attention to the changing demographics of the army and to the attitudes of the high command to the nationalities wearing the emperor's coat. Rothenberg hints at, but does not sufficiently expand on the despair that settled on the army's generals after 1900--- the growing conviction that dissolution and defeat were inevitable, embodied in a flurry of doomsaying books (e.g., "Unser Letzter Krieg") appearing after the Hungarian crisis of 1905. Rothenberg's account of the early years of Francis Joseph's reign needs revising in light of Alan Sked's account of nationalism and desertion rates of Hungarian and Italian troops in 1848/49. Rothenberg in general neglects the political context of the Monarchy when describing the forces shaping military decisions.

Nonetheless--- Rothenberg's book is still the best introduction to the unjustly neglected imperial-and-royal armies, and gives due credit to the tenacity of the Monarchy's forces in the Great War and the loyalty of its soldiers. Almost twenty years on, I'd still carry a copy with me everyday should I go back to the Kriegsarchiv--- there is no better introduction in English to the structure and personalities and events of the Monarchy's armies in the last seventy years of its existence.
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