A Personal History of Habsburg Europe

Book - 2014 | First American edition
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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 WW I, 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, Booklist.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Edition: First American edition
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780374175290
Branch Call Number: 943.603 WINDER
Characteristics: xiii, 551 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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rsmbarlow Jan 13, 2015

Really enjoyed this quirky book! I found the first 200 pages moved slowly, but the pace picked up and the last 200 pages were riveting. Winder explores a variety of themes which have sparked my interest to read more about this region and its complex history. Thanks for a great book!

Aug 17, 2014

When the author calls this a personal history, he really means you get to know about his obsession with weird, sometimes creepy, things – e.g., a stuffed war horse full of holes – and the personal peccadillos of many a Habsburg. And how many times is it necessary to mention the famous Habsburg chin (without showing even one picture of it)?

Winder is altogether too chatty, and strives rather too hard to be witty. So while one might learn a great deal about the several-century reign of an accidentally important family and how they affected the world, one must skim through a lot of silliness.

Jul 10, 2014

One of the best books I've ever read
Well it may be because my grandparents were from Hungary - but this author did a marvelous job of explaining what the concept of being from Hungary actually means, by tracing the history of its borders in a lively way.


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Aug 20, 2015

A very interesting history book. All of the events and figures were chosen specifically by the author because he found them interesting. At times it feels like you're reading history's footnotes. The history is portrayed in a very geographical way as well which is unique. It is as if you are on an epic road trip through history with the author.


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