Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe Hardcover – January 21, 2014
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
The Habsburg Empire was a ramshackle, lumbering old giant centered in the Danube Valley that held a central place in European politics from the Middle Ages to the end of WWI, ruled by the dominant dynasty of Europe for four centuries, the Habsburg family. Winder set out to wander through the lands that used to constitute the empire, describing and reflecting on what he sees now, particularly in terms of the appearance of villages, towns, and cities, and what he knows through his research as to how things used to look when the Habsburgs held sway. The sentiment around which he builds his colorful narrative is that the longevity of the Habsburg dynasty was due to a mix of cunning, dimness, luck and brilliance. (About one particular archduke, Winder says, he was one of the Habsburgs who make the family worthwhile, who make up for all the pious timeservers who congest the family tree.) This personalized, almost you-are-there view of history results in an arresting combination of anecdote and scholarly examination, where the interests of serious armchair travelers and devoted students of European history meet. --Brad Hooper
“[Winder] never stops talking and rarely pauses for breath. Even then, however, you want to tell him: Forget about breathing and just go on talking. Danubia is a long book, yet this reader would not mind if it were longer still.” ―Andrew Wheatcroft, The New York Times Book Review
“In a rollicking book that is part travelogue and part history, Winder takes up the unwieldy topic of the Habsburgs. The sprawling family empire ruled much of Europe for more than centuries, owing to a combination of 'cunning, dimness, luck, and brilliance.' From the Middle Ages until the end of the First World War, Winder writes, 'there was hardly a twist in Europe's history to which they did not contribute.' Winder, whose best-seller Germania took a similar approach to German history, explores the story of the dynasty and the lasting imprint of its reign by travelling the expanse of its former empire and giving a lively account of his research. He is thorough and funny, and the book is rich with anecdotes and enthusiastic appreciation, and it includes a broad survey of the artifacts and landscapes that tell the story of the family that laid the foundation of modern Europe.” ―Andrea Denhoed, Page-Turner, The New Yorker online
“Making five centuries of Habsburg history fun seems like a tall order, but Winder pulls it off. He entertains because he is entertained . . . With unrelenting wit--sometimes smirking but also self-mocking--he traces the Habsburgs' fortunes . . . What gives the text verve is Winder's ability to interweave the eccentric details of the Habsburgs themselves with an absorbing cultural history, driven by his exuberant passion for the lives and music of great composers and textured by his skillful physical descriptions of forgotten corners of the realm.” ―Foreign Affairs
“With hearty dollops of humor in a unique blend of travel writing, historiography and speculation, Simon Winder remains clear-eyed and witty . . . Danubia is thick with scoundrels, dullards, the occasional wizard--and great art, architecture and musicians from Haydn to Mr. Winder's spiritual doppelganger, the mysterious Romanian Bela Bartok.” ―Carlo Wolff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“As with his previous work Germania, Winder describes this account as a ‘personal history', allowing him space for whimsy, for a great deal of Haydn, for careful analysis of paintings and the freedom to favour certain emperors because they were interesting people rather than political heavyweights. It all makes for an excellent, rich and amusing read.” ―Roger Boyes, The Times (UK)
“Winder is a puppishly enthusiastic companion: funny, erudite, frequently irritating, always more in control of his material than he pretends to be, and never for a moment boring . . . Danubia is a moving book, and also a sensuous one: we feel the weight of imperial coins, hear and smell the ‘medals and spurs clinking and everything awash in expensive gentleman's fragrances' as emperors and regiments meet at formal occasions. Winder says he researched it largely on foot, seeking out museums and castles, and listened to all 106 Haydn symphonies just to get in the mood . . . Miniaturist in its eye for detail, grand in its scope, it skips beats and keeps our attention all the way.” ―Sarah Bakewell, The Financial Times
“Winder's amalgam of travelogue and personal history follows on from his bestselling account of Germany, Germania, and is similarly infectious in its enthusiasms. In pages of cheerful, slang-dotted prose, Danubia dilates knowledgeably on the Habsburg dynasty as it flourished along the river from its source in Bavarian hills through Austro-Hungary and the Balkans to the Black Sea . . . Danubia is a hoot and well worth reading.” ―Ian Thomson, The Independent (UK)
“[Winder] is an extremely interesting fellow and a very good writer . . . the journey is so interesting, exciting and very often laugh-out-loud hilarious . . . [a] glorious romp of a book.” ―Rosemary Michaud, Charleston Post and Courier
“[Winder's] personalized, almost you-are-there view of history results in an arresting combination of anecdote and scholarly examination, where the interests of serious armchair travelers and devoted students of European history meet.” ―Brad Hooper, Booklist
“Winder is an entertaining writer, and an erudite one.” ―Ian Brunskill, The Wall Street Journal on Simon Winder
Top Customer Reviews
The style of the book is somewhat original (or depending on your point of view idiosyncratic). I can imagine some readers will not appreciate the sudden changes in focus from a panoramic view of the grand stage of European History to a minute discussion of some museum piece or work of art. For example he goes from discussions of urbanization's effect on Nationalism in the late 19th Century to a description of a guinea pig village in a zoo in Budapest. The reader has to use his mind to find the links which I am sure exist, but nevertheless is not a mental exercise that I feel has much urgency nor resonance for the average contemporary reader. Danubia defies easy categorization and it's a book about a somewhat obscure section of Europe for most English speakers produced in an age when interest in foreign lands and their history seems to be in decline.Read more ›
I love history and majored in it, but I rarely had any clue what period Winder was discussing, he jumps around so much from the present to the past and all over the world with no sense of reason. This book is often brilliant, but it can also be very challenging and not in the best way.
Central Europe for centuries,,, odd people, clinging to antiquated ideas, WInder takes you to
Galicai, BOhemia, Slovakai, Vienna, Brno, Prague and Krawkow. a perfect history, rich, colorful,
violent, only beef is needs MORE MAPS ! buy this and book a trip to Budapest !
Beware; the title states 'Danubia. A Personal History of Habsburg Europe'. With emphasis on 'Personal'. Much of the book deals with the author's visits to places mentioned in the history and his personal reactions. And discussion of his reaction to the music and literature of the times and area.
There's a lot that's worth reading, such as the penultimate chapter dealing with the collapse caused by the Great War. There's also a lot of padding, which is tedious to read. And also careless errors, such as the statement that von Schlieffen died in 1906 (he actually retired then and actually died in 1913).
The book, at least in the eBook version, would be considerably improved if the author had set up a website with photos of the locations he describes. And provided links to the website in the text.
Winder's points out the dangers of petty nationalism while still engaging the reader in a lively history of a very dangerous part of the world.
The fact that two of my grandparents were born in the realm of the Habsburgs makes it all the more interesting to me.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get into it at all. I couldn't find any structure to it anywhere and I tried to start the book in several different places.
Personal is the word here. Although I'm sure there are plenty of facts, I found the authors scathing comments, about most things that occurred over several hundred years, rather irritating. I'm not sure what there is to enjoy about this book. After about 6 starts It got put into the charity bin..
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Danubia is written in an oddly personable style that can clash with the sometimes brutal details of Habsburg history. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Bruce Rusterholz Turner
Last year I read a book about the “golden age” of Spain because, while working on genealogy, I found out that Ferdinand and Isabella—who bank rolled Christopher Columbus—are my... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Carol Menges
Danubia provides a delightful but serious introduction to Eastern European history, which for most Americans is very unknown. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you liked Winder's GERMANIA, you'll love his subsequent book, DANUBIA. This companion book to the earlier one details the equally droll and informative story of the Habsburg... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kalikiano Kalei
Wonderfully written and researched. Winder somehow strikes a fantastic balance between eloquence and down-to-earth prose. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ryan