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The Habsburg Monarchy 1809-1918: A History of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 26. Juli 2012

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A history of the Habsburg monarchy from the end of the Holy Roman Empire to the monarchy's dissolution in 1918. The book offers an insight into the problems inherent in the attempt to give peace, stability and common loyalty to a hetergeneous population.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

A.J.P. Taylor (1906-1990) was one of the most controversial historians of the twentieth century. He served as a lecturer at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and London.

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Format: Taschenbuch
Gut geschriebenes Buch was einen sehr umfangreichen Überblick über die Habsburger Monarchie des 19ten Jahrhunderts liefert.
Man muss allerdings schon sehr gut Englisch können um alles zu verstehen.
Teilweise etwas zu detailliert aber insgesamt auf alle Fälle empfehlenswert.
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Format: Taschenbuch
I would be glad to take this opportunity in consideration -offer my review- once having read the original edition of 1941.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9b1d7e88) von 5 Sternen 20 Rezensionen
41 von 44 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b0e2b58) von 5 Sternen Still Very Good 5. Februar 2001
Von R. Albin - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Published in 1948, this concise book is a good overview of the Habsburg monarchy over the last century of its existence. It is written with the wit and sometimes sarcastic judgements for which Taylor was known well. Taylor's theme is the attempt of the Empire to cope simultaneously with the internal pressures exerted by the awakening of nationalism among the subject peoples of the regime and the external pressures of dealing with the rising powers of Germany and Russia. This is primarily a political history but draws astutely on relevant social and intellectual history. This book can only be read by individuals with a good basic knowledge of 19th century European history. Taylor shows that the survival of the Habsburg state was a paradoxical function of internal and external conflicts that embroiled it. The aggressive Hungarians, for example, wished to preserve it because it provided a vehicle for their domination of other ethnic groups within the historic borders of Hungary. Bismarck wanted to preserve the Habsburg state to avoid the diplomatic and internal political complications that would follow its dissolution. For decades, external and internal conflicts existed in uncomfortable equipoise punctuated by recurrent conflicts that never resolved any of the basic issues. Taylor provides a sophisticated analysis of this problem and interesting characterizations of the major interest groups and political figures involved. A particularly interesting aspect of this book is the concise analysis of developing nationalism. While this is not the main theme, Taylor provides some interesting insights into the development of nationalism in the various parts of the Habsburg state. He shows, in particular, the dynamic quality of nationalism, its origin in most cases as Romantic intellectual movements, and its development as being tied up in many cases with the organs of the Habsburg bureaucracy. There has been much written in recent years about the social construction of nationalism and recent events in the Balkans have given this topic a great deal of relevance. Taylor's analysis antedates by decades the writing of scholars like Benedict Anderson, whose book Imagined Communities has been very influential, but these recent scholars would have taught Taylor nothing. An interesting example of rediscovering the wheel.
30 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b0e2bac) von 5 Sternen Basic on Habsburg History 22. April 2002
Von William L. Harwood - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This was the first book I read on the topic that later became the basis for my dissertation. Taylor captured the big picture best, wrote the best, brought in enough detail to tell the story vividly, stated his biases and viewpoint clearly, and did it in far fewer pages than most others. Absolutelyl necessary, but not for beginners. This should be your second book. All the more important today as the Soviet Empire breakup and discussion of the American "empire" bear close comparison with a REAL dynastic empire.
15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b0e2fe4) von 5 Sternen Taylor being Taylor, as always 17. Dezember 2005
Von A. Lowry - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
You don't want to miss Lagavulin, but you don't want it to be all you drink, either.

Edward Crankshaw's book on "The Fall of the House of Habsburg," while ostensibly starting in 1848, is a good suggestion for the "first" book called for by so many reviews. Crankshaw, an intelligent old-school conservative, appears to have written his book in part as a retort to Taylor (judging by his comments in the text). Very readable, though without Taylor's wit.
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b0e53cc) von 5 Sternen The myth of inevitability 18. Juli 2010
Von H. Schneider - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
The book covers mainly the endgame, the last century of the Habsburg Dynasty, the rulers of the Austrian and Hungarian double monarchy. As a look at a map of the time will show us, even the name of that monarchy is phony. The entity was `a collection of provinces accidentally ruled by the same prince'. It was a European superpower at its time and any confusion with the current respectable but modest countries Austria and Hungary would be going in the wrong direction. It was a part of an instable balance of powers: the Turks, Russians, French, and in the last phase the Prussians were all competing for overlapping areas of influence.
The period starts with the end of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which was smashed into pieces by Napoleon's France. This `holy' empire had a Habsburg at its top, as Kaiser, for most of its time. When it ended, a new German Confederation was started, without a comparable nominal head, and with Austria and Prussia as twin leaders. The struggle between the two was won by Prussia, who established a new German Empire, leaving the Habsburgs to their now `Austrian Hungarian' empire.

The main theme of the book is the struggle of this supranational structure against the growing phenomenon of the `nation'. The ghost of nationalism had been awakened by Napoleon's raids across the continent. This had to come to a clash with the Habsburgs: `In other countries, dynasties are episodes in the history of the people; in the Habsburg Empire peoples are a complication in the history of the dynasty'.

It could have been such an interesting book. Alas, it is not quite so interesting. It is useless as an introduction or summary to the subject due to the author's habit of not telling or explaining, but assuming things to be known and referencing them like in a discussion of their meaning, with peers who share the same information level. I remember quite a few `history books' written in that method. AJPT clearly had no didactic intentions with this book (despite his quaint suggestions for pronunciation of Hungarian or Czech name).
The book is organizing its vast material by chronological chapters, which is a recipe for confusion. It might have worked better if it had been organized according to subject matters. It focuses heavily on individual leaders, like Metternich, without really giving them a profile. It treats a huge issue like the earthshaking 1848 revolution, which caused a level of chaos that had not yet been solved a hundred years later, at the time when the book was written, without going into the causes that started it.
The book is far too short for its subject, or, from the other angle, much too stuffed with facts, without the clear line of thought.

Did Taylor try to prove something? It seems so. He starts on the first text page with his basic philosophy: the defeat of the supranational structure against the rising forces of nationalism was `inevitable'. He declares that all thoughts about missed opportunities to avoid the destruction are `liberal illusions'.
Now, it may very well be that the Habsburgs were a lost cause, that they stood no chance to keep up their rule against the trends of time. But is that the same as `inevitability'? From what I know of Taylor's writings about the Nazis (I have not read his other books, but have read about him), he also uses this `inevitability' concept for the Nazi take over from Weimar's defeat.
I object strongly against the thought that any historical development is `inevitable'. Of course, once it has happened, it can't be avoided any more. We may be into hindsight reasoning here.
Historical inevitability is a foundation stone of Hegelianism and its offspring, Marxism. Taylor seems to represent the rightwing shoot of that school. The idea that laws of history dominate the development of the world is in essence totalitarian and anti-political.

Apart from this basic displeasure of mine, I find the book sometimes boring in its casual way of amassing facts, sometimes thrilling, when it comes up with sometimes brilliant sentences that encapsulate real insights.
I am easily annoyed by small things. Take this trifle: in German, a Kreis can be two things, it can be a circle, and it can be a district, in the sense of a subdivision of a province. In the Habsburg Empire, the Kreishauptmann was a key administration official (if I am not mistaken, the main Trotta character in Roth's Radetzkymarsch is a Kreishauptmann), translated as a district governor or president. (If you ask Google's translation tool, it gives you `governor'.) Taylor translates it as Captain of the Circle. That is either a howler which somehow puts the man's understanding of his subject in doubt, or it is a very deep insight into historical developments, in the sense that the political division `Kreis' is derived from ancient concepts of dividing an area into circles under sub-leaders. I suspect the former.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b0e5378) von 5 Sternen Emperor vs Nationalism and the Disintegration of the Hapsburgh Empire 2. Juni 2010
Von James E. Egolf - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
A.J.P. Taylor first had this book (THE HAPSBURG MONARCH:1809-1918)publsihed in 1948 which Harper and Row republished in 1965. This book is a solid summary of the gradual disintegration of the Hapsburg Monarchy and Empire. Taylor clearly and effectively diagnosed the political and diplomatic problems that undermined the Hapsburgs by the end of World War I.

The early sections of the this book dealt with the problems the Hapsburgs faced from the 16th. to the early 19th. century. The problems of the Reformation and Counter Reformation plus the serious Turkish invasions were concisely treated and gave readers a clear historical understanding the problems the Hapsburghs faced prior to the French Revolution and the rise and fall of the Napoleanic Empire.

Taylor then introduced readers the problems the Hapsburgs faced when their armies were decisively defeated by Napoleon's armies in 1806 and 1809. These defeats showed signs of political ineptness and weakness. The "subject nationalities" were not slow to recognize these weaknesses. Taylor made clear the reason why Metternich (1773-1859)was the guiding force at the Congress of Vienna( 1814-1815). Metternich knew very well that if the subject nationalities such as the Czechs, Polish, Reuthenians (Little Russians),Serbs, Italians, etc. ever got political independence, that would be the end of the Hapsburg Empire. The Hapsburgs had to do a politcal balancing act both within their empire and with the Russians, Prussians (Nothern Germans), and some of the Italian rulers. The Quadruple Alliance worked tolerably well. However when the Hapsburg Emperor Francis died in 1835, he was replaced by Ferdinand (1835-1848)who was lazy and incompetent. Taylor made clear that Ferdinand was NOT the one to keep the Empire intact. To do so required someone who was intelligent and politically astute, and even with the most skilled political and diplomatic political figures this was difficult at best.

Ferdinand's incompetence was in part the reason for the 1848 revolutions which erupted throughout Europe and especially in the Hapsburg Empire. Franz Joseph (1848-1916) replaced Ferdinand and used the Hapsburg armies to crush rebellions in Austria, Italy, etc. The one area that the Hapsburg troops could not subdue was Hungary where the Magyars led by Louis Kossouth (1802-1894)were not crushed until Russian troops under Czar Nicholus II (1825-1855 intervened. Taylor stated the reason for Hungarian military successes was the fact that the Hungarian army was bascially a Hapsburg army. As Taylor stated, Franz Joseph and Hapsburg aristocrats knew that changes were needed such as eliminating the Robot or forced labor imposed on workers and peasants. Both the German and Magyar aristocrats knew very well that their future was with the Emperor rather than national loyalty. Another interesting event was the Crimean War (1854-1855)whereby the Russians expected Hapsburg help but were threatened by Hapsburg troops. The Hapsburgs figured that the Russians were a threat since they would champion Slavic nationalism within the Hapsburg Empire.

The next major crisis for the Hapsburgs was the Seven Weeks War (1866) when the Prussian German troops shocked the Hapsburgs and forced the Hapsburgs to sign the Treaty of Prague which effectively ended Hapsburgs' control in what is today Germany. The Hapsburgs also lost most of their lands and political control in Italy and had to "retrench."

The Hapsburgs approved the National School Act in 1867 whereby students age 6-12 years could be taught in their native language. There was also a sham Diet or Parliament which gave the appearance political representation. This system worked tolerably well and was very effeective from 1879-1893. However, the Young Czech Movement and other natioalties made any work in the Diet almost impossible thereafter. Franz Joseph had to rule mostly by edcit from 1983 to 1914. Taylor noted that the Hapsburgs got breathing space in 1908 when they got control of Bosnia which prevented a South Slavic State (Yugoslavia). One of the problems that Taylor noted that most appointments re business, university teaching, etc. was state approved which led to nationality resentment that the "wrong" people were chosen.

Taylor made a good point when he argued that dynastic loyalty and clericalism were not enough to insure loyalty. Nationalism and the masses were what counted which the Hapsburgs feared as did the aristocrats. The days of the old loyalties were over. World War I ended the Hapsburg Empire. Taylor had a good quote on page 232 when he wrote, "War can only accelerate: it makes a dictatorial state more dictatorial, a democratic state more democratic, an industrial state more industrial, and-as with Austrial-Hungary-a rotten state more rotten."

The "allies" of World War I had little interest in what was left of the Hapsburg Empire. No reform or economic aid were used. As Taylor noted, the "allies" were more interested in stemming Bolshevism that promote sensible nationalism. The power vaccum left after the disintegration of the Hapsburg Empire was an inviting target for the resurgent Germans and Soviets.

The undersigned's only criticism of Taylor's book is that he could have more carefully investigated the actual causes and events of the assassination of the Arch Duke Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 which precipated World War I. However, Taylor wrote an informative book that is concise and clearly written. Readers will be impressed with Taylor's thorough research, concise written expression, and wry sense of humor.

James E. Egolf
June 1, 2010
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