Enter your mobile number 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.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Qty:1
  • List Price: $30.60
  • Save: $1.80 (6%)
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
The Reluctant Empress: A ... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The pages are crisp and clean. The cover is clean with some light wear. Stored, Packed & Shipped by Amazon. Eligible for Free Shipping.
Trade in your item
Get a $2.77
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria Paperback – November 8, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$28.80
$24.55 $16.95

Up to 50% off select Non-Fiction books
Featured titles are up to 50% off for a limited time. See all titles
$28.80 FREE Shipping. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria
  • +
  • A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889
Total price: $42.84
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brigitte Hamann is a Ph.D. and specialist in 19th and 20th-century history, specifically of Austrian history. She is the author of many books in German, some of which have been translated into English, including The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Bertha von
Suttner. A Life for Peace.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; Main edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571271308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571271306
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #897,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brandon Wilkening on October 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I learned about this book a few weeks ago when reading Paul Lendvai's book "The Hungarians," which contains a chapter on Elisabeth, due to her support of Hungary's cause within the Hapsburg empire. I wouldn't normally be too interested in a subject like this; even though I love history, I've always been rather put off by our obsession with monarchs. But she sounded like a fascinating character, so I checked out the book, and am happy that I did so.

Not really knowing much about Elisabeth herself, I didn't have any expectations regarding the book's tone or the author's stance toward her subject. After the first few chapters, it seemed as if this was going to be a sympathetic portrait; Elisabeth was married into royalty at a very young age, forced to deal with an overly controlling mother-in-law, and found herself in a highly insular, arrogant royalist society in Vienna that was critical of her insufficient aristocratic credentials. Thus, it seemed as though this would be a fairly familiar, sympathetic tale of an idealistic young women struggling against the repressive social strictures of her time.

But the author takes an increasingly critical stance towards Elisabeth as the book progresses, revealing her neglect of her two older children, her extravagant travels and hobbies, her single-minded support of Hungary at the expense of other nationalities in the empire, and her chilly relations with her husband. The book contains so many fascinating, often horrifying nuggets of information: the one that sticks in my mind is Elisabeth's "adoption" of a young black boy (the author uses the term "blackamoor," which I had to look up) as a playmate for her youngest daughter.
Read more ›
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
A very well written, well researched book about an egnimatic persona. Her likeness adornes Vienna even today. Hotels named for her and many tourists attractions fueled by Die Kaiserin Elisabeth.

If you see the Grand Movie "Sissi" - you come away with a mythical fairytale. This book shatters that myth.

A countess says it best at the time of the suicide of the Crown Prince Rudolf. "If she had thought less of herself and more of her obligations, this tragedgy would not have happened."

The author does a great job of laying out facts and events, and backing them with historical events and private letters. My favorite are the letters and writings of her youngest daughter Valerie. It is amazing....truly amazing...how Valerie's sharp perceptions see through veils and even evolve when she recognizes the flaws in each parent. The author tries to give all perspectives that the reader comes to his or her own conclusions.

What is also wonderful in the book is the private lives of the people around Sisi, both the family and the notables of the day, and certainly Vienna itself.

Hindsight is 20 / 20 - but this is a portrait of a woman who could have done much in the shaping of the world. (at least she could have made an effort, as did Catherine the Great and Marie Antionette - each with vastly different results) If one reads closely one can see the "fin de siecle" and can see the proper course to have set the World (no less) on a kinder, less brutal course.

Sisi was not only a reluctant Empress. She was litterally an absent Empress.

Elisabeth was a woman of great charm and beauty, discipline and strong will. But she never cared for Vienna, and thus the people of Vienna never cared for her.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having recently visited Vienna with a tour guide who is a friend of the scholar Brigitte Hamann, my interest was piqued to know more details about Elizabeth's life and death. Although not an easy read, it was enlightening to learn more about this loved and despised character. It confirmed my original impression that she suffered from a number of disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a fantastic biography of Empress Elisabeth ('Sisi'). What I liked most was how Hamann chose to organize it thematically rather than chronologically. For example, there was a chapter on Sisi's involvement with Hungarian politics, a chapter on her horse and hunting obsession, and a chapter on (of course) her strange beauty rituals. This unique format wouldn't necessarily work with every biography, but I feel like it was the right choice in this case because Sisi has become such a mythologized figure in recent years. The sorting of chapters by subject matter addressed those myths quite effectively.

Hamann did incorporate the chronology of broader historical events, though. She also took an unbiased view of Sisi's life and choices, showing that while the Viennese court was a highly structured and unforgiving place, Sisi didn't make things any easier for herself with her frequent withdrawals from court and her refusal to participate in many fundamental traditions. I found the chapter on Sisi's involvement with Hungarian politics especially fascinating--I had no idea her support was so instrumental in bringing about the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

I would highly recommend Hamann's book to anyone interested in the real Sisi. Hamann drew on an extensive array of primary historical sources to show all sides of this remarkable woman--the good, the bad and the ugly. Hamann also provided excellent historical context and was careful to specify when a piece of information was speculation or gossip. This book was both readable and highly informative. I wish more of Hamann's works were available in translation, as I would definitely read them.

I also posted this review on Goodreads.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria