counter create hit Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made War, Peace, and Love at the Congress of Vienna - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made War, Peace, and Love at the Congress of Vienna

Availability: Ready to download

Vienna, 1814 is an evocative and brilliantly researched account of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With the feared Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated and exiled to the small island of Elba, heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to begin piecing together the ruins of his toppled empire. Major questions loomed: What w Vienna, 1814 is an evocative and brilliantly researched account of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With the feared Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated and exiled to the small island of Elba, heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to begin piecing together the ruins of his toppled empire. Major questions loomed: What would be done with France? How were the newly liberated territories to be divided? What type of restitution would be offered to families of the deceased? But this unprecedented gathering of kings, dignitaries, and diplomatic leaders unfurled a seemingly endless stream of personal vendettas, long-simmering feuds, and romantic entanglements that threatened to undermine the crucial work at hand, even as their hard-fought policy decisions shaped the destiny of Europe and led to the longest sustained peace the continent would ever see. Beyond the diplomatic wrangling, however, the Congress of Vienna served as a backdrop for the most spectacular Vanity Fair of its time. Highlighted by such celebrated figures as the elegant but incredibly vain Prince Metternich of Austria, the unflappable and devious Prince Talleyrand of France, and the volatile Tsar Alexander of Russia, as well as appearances by Ludwig van Beethoven and Emilia Bigottini, the sheer star power of the Vienna congress outshone nearly everything else in the public eye. An early incarnation of the cult of celebrity, the congress devolved into a series of debauched parties that continually delayed the progress of peace, until word arrived that Napoleon had escaped, abruptly halting the revelry and shrouding the continent in panic once again. Vienna, 1814 beautifully illuminates the intricate social and political intrigue of this history-defining congress–a glorified party that seemingly valued frivolity over substance but nonetheless managed to drastically reconfigure Europe’s balance of power and usher in the modern age.


Compare

Vienna, 1814 is an evocative and brilliantly researched account of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With the feared Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated and exiled to the small island of Elba, heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to begin piecing together the ruins of his toppled empire. Major questions loomed: What w Vienna, 1814 is an evocative and brilliantly researched account of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With the feared Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated and exiled to the small island of Elba, heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to begin piecing together the ruins of his toppled empire. Major questions loomed: What would be done with France? How were the newly liberated territories to be divided? What type of restitution would be offered to families of the deceased? But this unprecedented gathering of kings, dignitaries, and diplomatic leaders unfurled a seemingly endless stream of personal vendettas, long-simmering feuds, and romantic entanglements that threatened to undermine the crucial work at hand, even as their hard-fought policy decisions shaped the destiny of Europe and led to the longest sustained peace the continent would ever see. Beyond the diplomatic wrangling, however, the Congress of Vienna served as a backdrop for the most spectacular Vanity Fair of its time. Highlighted by such celebrated figures as the elegant but incredibly vain Prince Metternich of Austria, the unflappable and devious Prince Talleyrand of France, and the volatile Tsar Alexander of Russia, as well as appearances by Ludwig van Beethoven and Emilia Bigottini, the sheer star power of the Vienna congress outshone nearly everything else in the public eye. An early incarnation of the cult of celebrity, the congress devolved into a series of debauched parties that continually delayed the progress of peace, until word arrived that Napoleon had escaped, abruptly halting the revelry and shrouding the continent in panic once again. Vienna, 1814 beautifully illuminates the intricate social and political intrigue of this history-defining congress–a glorified party that seemingly valued frivolity over substance but nonetheless managed to drastically reconfigure Europe’s balance of power and usher in the modern age.

30 review for Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made War, Peace, and Love at the Congress of Vienna

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Okay, so you know how you're in that airport bookstore because you've tragically finished off your book before its even time to take off? (Because naturally nobody on goodreads would be caught there because they forgot to bring a book.) So you're standing, torn, between that shelf of NYT bestsellers, cheap thrillers, a few Serious Looking Histories... and those shiny, shiny pretty ridiculously indulgent magazine racks and trying to pretend like you don't care /at all/ if Brangelina had the world Okay, so you know how you're in that airport bookstore because you've tragically finished off your book before its even time to take off? (Because naturally nobody on goodreads would be caught there because they forgot to bring a book.) So you're standing, torn, between that shelf of NYT bestsellers, cheap thrillers, a few Serious Looking Histories... and those shiny, shiny pretty ridiculously indulgent magazine racks and trying to pretend like you don't care /at all/ if Brangelina had the world's most beautiful baby? (Or, for men, I don't know... sports porn magazines full of ridiculous statistics that you do not EVER need to know but like saying when you've had too many beers?) Okay, so this book solves all your problems. This should be placed strategically in the center of all these locations, and advertised better with a few more ripped bosoms on the cover, it would sell like hotcakes. I promise you. This book has something for us all. Yes, you probably need to care a bit about history and have some very basic knowledge about the Napoloeonic Wars (but really the bare facts of there was this little French dude Napoleon who tried to conquer Europe and pissed off everyone in the meantime and then got his own Mediterraean island afterwards while everyone tried to fix the continent in Vienna afterwards will suffice. Oh, also, the Bourbons are sissies). But other than that? You can really just dive right into this one. The first third of the book spends some time setting up the various important personages who took part in the congress, giving detailed character studies of their histories and personalities. It also deals with the various roads (both literal and figurative) that the nations took to the Congress, and the various positions that everyone came into it with, as well as what they wanted. He could have written the whole book just about that, these people are so incredibly colorful and rich. Metternich, Talleyrand, Tsar Alexander, Castlereagh, Wellington, and various little kings, princes, ministers and lords are all there, and all have their famous witty lines, shining moments, crazy rages, and emotional breakdowns to detail. This was the Romantic period, and these people embodied it to a T. Then he really gets into the good stuff. The 19th century was the century of diarists and letter writers, and the Congress was an epicenter of all of that. So there are sooo many good first hand accounts of "he said this at a party," and so many juicy quotes. Almost all the principals wrote memoirs or diaries of the time, so the first hand research is really really good. He really gets into the various rounds of political intrigue, combined with the parties in between the conference meetings, how people tried to stab each other in the back at balls, delivered devastating one liners at the opera that wrecked someone's career, how jockeying for seating at a concert was an olympic sport, and the /fortunes/ that people spent on doing all of it. Even better, the various love affairs going out throughout the Congress. He tends to stick to the ones at the very upper eschelon, but also takes particular glee in talking about the tsar's affairs with flower girls, princes' fruit selling mistresses, and this or that minister's pretty boy tucked out of the way. For some juicy examples: Prince Metternich's devastating affair with the Duchess of Sagan is chronicled in painstaking detail, showing this powerful, stern, intelligent man reduced to howling at the wind for this woman who didn't love him (they quote from his love letters to her frequently), and how the congress almost broke down from his lack of attention to the proceedings due to how distracted he was with his doomed pursuit of her. It also details the Duchess' rivalry with the Princess Bagration, a Russian noblewoman who used to be Metternich's lover, and is jealous of Sagan and wants to take her down, and so teams up with the Tsar (who hates Metternich), to plot against her. Some scheming person with a sick sense of humor put their apartments across a courtyard from each other in the same building, which makes it all the more intense as they host rival salons to each other. Talleyrand's young niece Dorothee (Sagan's younger sister) is only twenty when she comes to be the embassy's hostess, fleeing from a bad marriage and the death of a child, and comes out her powerful uncle's lover, having slept around with various military heroes and noblemen along the way. ... and on and on and on, weaving in these affairs into the intrigue and showing how these various loves, jealousies, jokes (Metternich's joke on the secretary of the Congress, Gentz, on April Fool's Day is absolutely fantastic) affairs gone sour and bitter rivalries shaped the outcome and course of the congress. The only complaint I have is that it wrapped up too soon, moving on to talk about Napoleon's Hundred Days after the escape from Elba, the campaign at Waterloo, Wellington's leadership, the state of affairs in France, etc. I wish that he had spent even more time detailing the various ins and outs of the Congress rather than moving away towards Napoleon. But that only happens right at the end, and obviously you can't not acknowledge it. (the earlier dealings with Napoleon in the book reveal a lot about his life on Elba and say a lot about why he left, so /that/ part is really intersting.) But I just felt like I knew a lot of the historical fact already, and you can find detailed military strategy in history books. I wanted more of the juicy character study and petty intrigue, is all, since that was clearly the book's strength. Anwyay, obviously highly recommended. You'll breeze right on through it I promise. Incredibly fast read. It's more like a novel than a historical book, really. He should have made it into one. If I were more ambitious, I would. I should. But yeah, it also makes for a great one to read out loud. Seriously, we were giggling insanely at some of the love letters written by the most powerful men of the era describing their devotion to their mistresses. You MUST do dramatic readings at that point. You're really missing out if you don't. Ed. Note: This is taking a little longer to get through than I thought it would, but only because the boyfriend and I have decided to read it aloud to each other, not because it isn't good. On the contrary, this is a rollicking, wonderfully good time, written like a colorful epic novel. We're just savoring it as much as possible with a deliciously slow reading. Original: OH. HELL. YES. My favorite historical period, combined with lots of gossip and intrigue. Hoping to really get into this on my vacation next week.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    "Kings, queens, princes, and diplomats would all pour into the city of Vienna in the autumn of 1814 for the highly anticipated peace conference. More than 200 states and princely houses would send delegates to settle the many unresolved issues. How were the victors to reconstruct the war-torn continent? How were they going to make restitution to the millions who had lost family members or suffered the horrors of Napoleonic domination? The Vienna Congress offered a chance to correct the wrongs of "Kings, queens, princes, and diplomats would all pour into the city of Vienna in the autumn of 1814 for the highly anticipated peace conference. More than 200 states and princely houses would send delegates to settle the many unresolved issues. How were the victors to reconstruct the war-torn continent? How were they going to make restitution to the millions who had lost family members or suffered the horrors of Napoleonic domination? The Vienna Congress offered a chance to correct the wrongs of the past and, many hoped, create the 'best of all possible worlds.' Reasoned opinion predicted that all negotiations would be wrapped up in three or four weeks. Even the most seasoned diplomats expected no more than six. But the delegates, thrilled by the prospects of a lasting peace, indulged in unrestrained celebrations. The Vienna peace conference soon degenerated into a glittering vanity fair: masked balls, medieval-style jousts, and grand formal banquets - a 'sparkling chaos' that would light up the banks of the Danube." First off, many thanks to Kelly for writing a great review of this book back in 2009 - she raved about this book, and I've always had it in the back of my mind when browsing the history section in bookstores. A few months ago, I finally found a copy and bought it. Never mind that I know nothing about the Napoleonic Wars aside from the fact that Napoleon got banished, escaped and invaded France again, and then got banished for real a second time; never mind that the only thing I knew about the Congress of Vienna was that I confused it with the Treaty of Versailles on an AP Western Civ test in high school. I was promised gossip, intrigue, politics, romance, gossip, parties, and a heaping dose of more gossip - so I was on board. And guys, Vienna 1814 delivers. I would say without reservations that this is probably the most readable history book I've ever come across. King's writing is clear and flows easily, and I had no trouble keeping the large cast of characters straight, despite never having heard of most of them. He does a wonderful job portraying all the different aspects of the Vienna Congress - on the one hand, you had all the delegates working around the clock to restore Europe to its pre-Napoleon state (which involved, among other things, deciding which of Napoleon's relatives would be allowed to keep the titles he had bestowed on them and which should be returned to the rightful heirs) and trying to keep everyone happy (which was impossible, of course) while at the same time there was a crazy party every single night, as well as salons where all the political powers were gathered. Often, a diplomat could accomplish more by attending a ball for an hour than he could by working in his office all day. And meanwhile, as all of this is happening, Napoleon is sitting on Elba, tenting his fingers and plotting his return to France. It isn't until he actually succeeds, landing in France and recruiting an army almost instantly, that all the Vienna Congress delegates look around and say, "Well, damn. Guess we'd better start figuring this out for real" and actually accomplish what they set out to do six months ago. All the characters (and they really feel like characters, not historical figures) are great, the descriptions are beautiful, and you shouldn't shy away from this book if you know almost nothing about Napoleon. Basically, if those first two paragraphs I quoted from the book intrigue you at all, the rest of the book will not disappoint.

  3. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Howard

    The genre of "popular history" is somewhat hard to pin down, over the years I've seen it defined in a number of different ways. The most common definition you'll find is any work of history written for a non-academic audience, but this has always seemed somewhat limiting to me. After all, can't a work accessible to the general populace also advance scholarship? This dichotomy between popular and academic history results in having the former type be almost overwhelmingly broad while the latter ty The genre of "popular history" is somewhat hard to pin down, over the years I've seen it defined in a number of different ways. The most common definition you'll find is any work of history written for a non-academic audience, but this has always seemed somewhat limiting to me. After all, can't a work accessible to the general populace also advance scholarship? This dichotomy between popular and academic history results in having the former type be almost overwhelmingly broad while the latter type is restricted to only nearly unreadable articles in academic journals. Bit of a tangent I know, but having said that, know that Vienna 1814 isn't just pop history, it's bubblegum history. (You might want to put a "not that there's anything wrong with that after all sweeping subjective opinions I make in this review.) A word of explanation: I ordered this used off Amazon, and only realized afterwords that I had gotten it confused with, Adam Zamoyski's Rites of Peace, published one year before this one, a book that I had flipped through at a book store shortly after it came out. Normally not a big deal, right? It's not like I have read any Zamoyski before, or had heard anything remarkable about that book. I just had wanted to read a history of the Congress of Vienna for a few years, and that one happened to pick my eye. My first hint of warning was that there were no maps. This alone left me pretty disappointed because, ever since My Father's Dragon I rather enjoy having a nice map to consult when I'm reading a book, especially when what's being discussed is some semi-obscure principality that I'm not 100% sure I can pronounce. After all, if any topic cries for at least a few handy reference maps, it's the multi-power conference that had to determine the fate of a continent full of semi-obscure republics formerly known as semi-obscure principalities. However, it turns I didn't need to be worried about the lack of reference materials, because David King isn't so much concerned with our friends the semi-obscure principalities. Instead he's interested in who was getting fucked. And not fucked in the Poles in the 17th century or Kurds in the 20th century sense (ahh Peace Conference humor), but fucked in the Real Housewives of the Hapsburg Empire sort of sense. The Congress of Vienna serves as a mere backdrop for King to describe lavish parties, profile fabulous nobles, and pass on tawdry gossip. It's not social history, it's tabloid history. (Again, not that there's anything wrong with that.) But that was absolutely not what I was looking for. I should say that King doesn't neglect the actual Congress itself at all. He even manages to artfully weave in an account of Napoleon at Elbe and his breathtaking escape and final hundred days in France. But it's all fairly bare bones. There's no real context to the events at all. When King gives the reader a closer look at important figures, there's a real sense that he's only relating what the general reader will find colorful or intriguing, not trying to build even a decent understanding of the individual. I finished this thing several months ago, so I'm going to refrain from going into much greater detail. To be fair, King obviously didn't set out to write the definitive history on the subject. He probably set out to write a entertaining history that happened to enlighten. I was just looking for something that attempted to do the same thing, I just prefer the other way around. However, if your interested in an incredibly readable, sometimes engaging, often titillating, and always professionally told account of atmosphere surrounding the Congress of Vienna, I can easily point you toward this book. Unfortunately, if you want any depth of understanding, I recommend you start elsewhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    This was gossipy and quite enjoyable. I rated this 1 star because the author kept talking about 'slavery' in reference to white europeans being sold by Muslims (?) into North Africa. I borrowed this as an audiobook from Scribd so perhaps I misunderstood some of the particulars here. Yet, these European nations are all profiting from many forms of slavery between the captivity of West Africans to the captivity of various ethnic groups across what is now 'India'. How fucking hypocritical and ridicu This was gossipy and quite enjoyable. I rated this 1 star because the author kept talking about 'slavery' in reference to white europeans being sold by Muslims (?) into North Africa. I borrowed this as an audiobook from Scribd so perhaps I misunderstood some of the particulars here. Yet, these European nations are all profiting from many forms of slavery between the captivity of West Africans to the captivity of various ethnic groups across what is now 'India'. How fucking hypocritical and ridiculous to act like slavery was only wrong when white europeans were harmed. I'm not surprised those at this conference felt that way but I'm disgusted that the author of a nonfiction historical text like this wouldn't explore this issue. In some way other than calling the concern over white europeans just a general 'call to free slaves'. They meant specific enslaved peoples here and I expect a modern author to handle this with considerably more accuracy. Otherwise, fun look at the players of this outrageous conference.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lea

    Absolutely fantastic. A play-by-play of the most fascinating peace conference in all of History, with its months of intense negotiations by some of the most brilliant diplomats ever, a never-ending social callendar, and a glittering parade of Europe's nobility (and all the amazing gossip that entails). Great for the detailed explanation of the tricky politics AND the scandalous affairs, this book is indispensable for those who really want to understand the Congress of Vienna and its protagonists Absolutely fantastic. A play-by-play of the most fascinating peace conference in all of History, with its months of intense negotiations by some of the most brilliant diplomats ever, a never-ending social callendar, and a glittering parade of Europe's nobility (and all the amazing gossip that entails). Great for the detailed explanation of the tricky politics AND the scandalous affairs, this book is indispensable for those who really want to understand the Congress of Vienna and its protagonists.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)

    If you're at all interested in modern European history, and looking for a bit of a racy tale too, then this book is for you. David King is to be commended for crafting such an elegant and engaging work that really does read like a novel. Vienna 1814 details the doings of the Congress of Vienna, held in Vienna, Austria, in late-1814 and early-1815, its expressed purpose to restore Europe following the abdication of Napoleon to Elba and the end of nearly 20 years of war across Europe. Kings and Qu If you're at all interested in modern European history, and looking for a bit of a racy tale too, then this book is for you. David King is to be commended for crafting such an elegant and engaging work that really does read like a novel. Vienna 1814 details the doings of the Congress of Vienna, held in Vienna, Austria, in late-1814 and early-1815, its expressed purpose to restore Europe following the abdication of Napoleon to Elba and the end of nearly 20 years of war across Europe. Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, and diplomats from all across Europe gathered together to try and bring order from the chaos and advance a long period of peace. The problem was that every nation came with its own hidden agenda and only looked to further its own national interests. This very well-written book focuses on the efforts and activities of Austria's Prince Metternich, Russia's Tsar Alexander, England's Lord Castlereagh and Duke of Wellington, Prussia's Chancellor Hardenberg, France's Talleyrand, and a whole host of papal legates, minor plenipotentiaries and ministers. These men also brought their wives and mistresses to Vienna. There are also numerous cameo appearances of many of Europe's wealthy, artistic, and intellectual elite; like Beethoven, Antonio Salieri, Jacob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm fame), and so forth. Throw into the mix that the conference also attracted every scoundrel, rogue, courtesan, and spy and you have the perfect recipe for political intrigue, espionage, and sexual seduction on a scale never before seen. While the diplomats struggled and schemed in their negotiating sessions during the day, in the evening they attended great parties and balls hosted by the various embassies, or salons, scattered across the Viennese landscape; with each country trying to outdo the other in cuisine and grandiose entertainment. Flirtations, secret liaisons and seductions, and even flagrant affairs were common among the participants. Mr. King includes a tremendous amount of background material on each of these fascinating men and women that makes it very easy for the reader to see that they were just like the "A-List" celebrities of our time. It is also easy to see where authors like William Makepeace Thackeray, Georgette Heyer, and so many others, got their inspiration. Personally, I think that this book would provide terrific fodder for a script for a very entertaining (and slightly smutty) period drama miniseries on one of the cable channels -- an early 19th century "Peyton Place." Even with the diversions of all of the fancy balls and entertainment held during the several months of the Congress of Vienna, the European nations did reach some important multi-national agreements and milestones. They restored or recognized, in large part, many of the small kingdoms and countries that existed prior to Napoleon's conquests. They also redrew borders, and added or took away land and resources from one nation and gave it to another. In a fashion they endeavored to ensure that the rule of "public law" (international law) would be implemented and applied across the continent. An enlightened and consensus position was also adopted that condemned and prohibited the institution of slavery among the signatory states. Russia and Prussia were probably the big winners, with much of Poland falling into the hands of the Tsar, and much of the Rhineland being taken from France and added to Prussia. Creation of this large 'German' confederation was thought by the diplomats to be a moderating influence on future European affairs; a decision that would haunt the continent in less than 100 years in the future with the horrors of World Wars I and II. David King's book climaxes with the escape of Napoleon from his exile on the island of Elba, his return to Paris, and his marshaling of hundreds of thousands of Frenchman to his flag. In response, the book describes the rapid mobilization and militarization of the Allies in their fierce determination to defeat Napoleon and the French Army for the last time. The Duke of Wellington rides to Brussels, assumes command of the Allied Army, and meets Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo. Napoleon is defeated and this time he is exiled to the island of St. Helena, an isolated chuck of rock in the middle of the desolate South Atlantic Ocean. This book is important for anyone looking to better understand the Europe of the 20th and 21st centuries; but unlike many histories, this book is anything but dusty, musty, or dry as it has the added benefit of being incredibly engaging and loads of fun to read too. My only gripe? I wish it were longer -- I wanted more! I highly recommend David King's Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Anyone interested in the Napoleonic era might enjoy this look at the personalities gathered at the Congress of Vienna over the latter part of 1814 through early 1815, when the protracted (and killingly expensive) gaieties were summarily interrupted by Napoleon's escape from Elba. It was amusing to recognize bits from this or that memoir or set of letters, however unlike those, King navigates between the Scylla of unreliable narrators (and the memoirists are all more or less unreliable in that the Anyone interested in the Napoleonic era might enjoy this look at the personalities gathered at the Congress of Vienna over the latter part of 1814 through early 1815, when the protracted (and killingly expensive) gaieties were summarily interrupted by Napoleon's escape from Elba. It was amusing to recognize bits from this or that memoir or set of letters, however unlike those, King navigates between the Scylla of unreliable narrators (and the memoirists are all more or less unreliable in that they all wrote with an intention, often to paper over their own shortcomings and affairs de coeur with penetrating hindsight and noble patriotism, or to slander an enemy)and the Charybdis of nineteenth and early twentieth century whitewashing. So we know who was sleeping with whom (including proof of one of Metternich's more important indiscretions, the letters illustrating which having lain secretly in a Swedish palace wall until 1989), who was friends or rivals with whom, peppered with the popular Prince de Ligne's wit. The man was not the least important in state affairs, but he knew everyone pretty much the entire century, and he had his refined finger on the pulse of society all his long life. And people knew it. It's just this sort of person who is usually excised from histories in favor or earnest politicians or determined military men, which robs a history of a sense of the time. Most important, I think, King successfully demonstrates how (though we use the term "Napoleonic" for the era) Talleyrand was at least as influential, as powerful, and far, far more longsighted. Talleyrand never led armies to smite thousands of lives, but he was expert in shaping the fallout into a semblance of order, and then rejuggling as those statesmen and military leaders rushed about grabbing what they could. Revolving like satellites are personalities like Alexander of Russia, and those who influenced him, including his mysterious sage. That's another thing I like: King does not leave out the women. Though they were kept from prominence in the legal sense, they had tremendous influence socially and intimately, which King demonstrates. Finally, he illustrates what it was like for so many kings to live for this protracted time in close proximity--something that had never before occurred. He also illustrates what it was like to participate in inventing a government from afar (Louis XVIII's) and what happens when that government begins to disintegrate, and nobody knows what will happen next (the escape from Elba). Finally, we get a succinct overview of Waterloo, and the desperate days of the Alliance. It ends shortly after Napoleon is sent off to St. Helena. I would have liked more delving into Castlereagh, so conflicted and interesting a character, and a bit more focus on the Polish question and their remarkable champion, but this is a short book, and the writer must pick and choose.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    Peculiar mismatch of modern and period interests. I hate to tell you this, but the fortunes of different peculiarly named German noble houses have turned out to have fuck all historical interest after that little thing we call the 20th century. Unless you're going to include the nasty details, I also do not care who Mitternich was dreaming about shagging on any given day. (I think it was mostly the Tsar. Or maybe thats the author.) But, yes, let's dedicate chapters and chapters to that and only Peculiar mismatch of modern and period interests. I hate to tell you this, but the fortunes of different peculiarly named German noble houses have turned out to have fuck all historical interest after that little thing we call the 20th century. Unless you're going to include the nasty details, I also do not care who Mitternich was dreaming about shagging on any given day. (I think it was mostly the Tsar. Or maybe thats the author.) But, yes, let's dedicate chapters and chapters to that and only briefly skim over such curious irrelevant historical asides as the first international statement against slavery and the seed of humanitarian issues in global politics, or one of the Grimm brothers wandering around complaining about book piracy and the beginning of the notion of intellectual property. Those aren't interesting at all to a modern reader, lets talk about someone's hat some more instead!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Brown

    A fascinating history of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when the European powers met to decide how to put the world back together after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated. What was supposed to be a congress turned into the most lavish party of all time, with more aristocracy and royalty gathered in one place than any other point in history, from kings to tzars. And while they were busy not accomplishing anything, Napoleon Bonaparte just happened to escape from Elba. I truly knew none of this histo A fascinating history of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when the European powers met to decide how to put the world back together after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated. What was supposed to be a congress turned into the most lavish party of all time, with more aristocracy and royalty gathered in one place than any other point in history, from kings to tzars. And while they were busy not accomplishing anything, Napoleon Bonaparte just happened to escape from Elba. I truly knew none of this history before, and although I knew about Napoleon, and what he did as he conquered different lands, I never really thought about the mess that was left behind for the leaders of Europe to deal with. I really enjoyed this, and the fun little asides and histories of each of the key players.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    About how the Congress of Vienna arrived at the decisions that it made after Napoleon's first abdication, and why it took such a tremendously long time for them to arrive at a conclusion. King does a good job of making all the players distinct and memorable. The pictures also help tremendously. But this book DESPERATELY NEEDS MAPS! King kept referring to this or that country which no longer exists, and how this one was next to that one and why that proximity made it a region that some other coun About how the Congress of Vienna arrived at the decisions that it made after Napoleon's first abdication, and why it took such a tremendously long time for them to arrive at a conclusion. King does a good job of making all the players distinct and memorable. The pictures also help tremendously. But this book DESPERATELY NEEDS MAPS! King kept referring to this or that country which no longer exists, and how this one was next to that one and why that proximity made it a region that some other country didn't want someone else to have. In other words, the geography of the time was hugely important to all the decision-makers' concerns and decisions, and not to have a picture of what Europe looked like before Napoleon, after Napoleon, and the changes being proposed during the Congress was a huge omission. My dad agreed. He read this in two days, but it took me a couple of weeks. I found all the deliberations to be slow reading (especially in the absence of maps!). Sometimes I liked the "filler" stuff about the balls and parties. The passage about Count Razumovsky's house burning to cinders I found interesting. But other times the entertainment frippery was described with little purpose or specificity. The chapters about Napoleon were more lively. When he escapes from Elba, everything in the book picks up speed and interest -- there's conflict! Something is happening! The chapters on Waterloo were very well done: just enough detail to be informative yet with enough pace to keep moving forward. In spite of whatever complaints I might have had (including the fact of occasional grammar errors), this was enlightening material in that it helped me understand a phrase that got bandied about in my history classes all the time with little explanation: "Metternich's Europe." I understand better the ingredients that were in the pot when the events that triggered WWI happened, and I have a more specific sense of how Napoleon's actions affected Europe both during his time and for centuries afterward. I'm glad I read this.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    First of all--written by a Kentuckian and a professor at my alma mater UK. Yeah! Okay, moving on...fascinating topic that I was not knowledgable about previously, and an interesting, novel-y writing style. I loved all the gossipy stuff about the parties and the love affairs, and all the lovely descriptions of gowns and mansions and various intrigues. And while a lot of the political/diplomatic information was interesting, I did get a little bogged down when this got extremely detailed; I'm simpl First of all--written by a Kentuckian and a professor at my alma mater UK. Yeah! Okay, moving on...fascinating topic that I was not knowledgable about previously, and an interesting, novel-y writing style. I loved all the gossipy stuff about the parties and the love affairs, and all the lovely descriptions of gowns and mansions and various intrigues. And while a lot of the political/diplomatic information was interesting, I did get a little bogged down when this got extremely detailed; I'm simply not well-informed enough about this topic to get much out of the minute details of a broken alliance between Russian and Prussia about Saxony, or whatever. Some sections seemed more well-suited for the academic reader, or at least for someone with a burning interest in the congress of Vienna (which I totally get, since I have these burning interests in a number of totally random topics). But this is definitely still a good choice for the layman (or laylady) with an interest in lively, gossipy histories--with just a little bit of scanning around some of the sections.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Kamioner

    okay, it's a trend. the prequel to Versailles. really good stuff. okay, it's a trend. the prequel to Versailles. really good stuff.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vintagebooklvr

    This is a rare bird in history. Not a dry, historical monograph 2 feet high or a breezy, gossipy tell-all of the biggest political and social party of all times (which it could easily have been either one). Instead, it is a comprehensible, somewhat meaty, almost novel-like book of a complex, lengthy, and important event influenced as much by personalities, parties, and love affairs as by the aftermath of 20 years of a brutal series of wars that left countries devastated, bankrupt, countless dead This is a rare bird in history. Not a dry, historical monograph 2 feet high or a breezy, gossipy tell-all of the biggest political and social party of all times (which it could easily have been either one). Instead, it is a comprehensible, somewhat meaty, almost novel-like book of a complex, lengthy, and important event influenced as much by personalities, parties, and love affairs as by the aftermath of 20 years of a brutal series of wars that left countries devastated, bankrupt, countless dead, borders eradicated--in some cases, countries--and hundreds of hot spots and issues that could spring up into another European conflagration at any time. Any one aspect of this event could inspire multiple books, so to be able to weave the many threads into a work that covers so many subjects with some substance and provides a context for one another is remarkable. This work would have benefited from maps. Lots of these territories were small principalities and city-states that the reader probably doesn't know exactly where they are on a map and in relationship to each other which would help explain some of the disputes. This would be particularly useful with regard to Prussia, Saxony, Poland and other bits being offered up as so many cuts of turkey on Thanksgiving. It is important to include Napoleon's return to power during the Congress because it explains the way some things ended up and were left unfinished as well why things decided at the Congress were changed at the Treaty of Paris. However, I wish a little less time was spent on it and more on the German issue. This was an important step to the eventual unification of Germany and the domination of Prussia, never mind the source of many military flare-ups in the next 100 years. I loved the use of primary material in this book. It livened up the text and gives an insight to the personalities at work. There is also a good bibliography and endnotes that provides further reading for those that are interested (there will be some I'll be looking into).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    A fascinating account of the peace conference that established many of the conventions of modern diplomacy and statecraft that we still follow today. It was particularly interesting to me because historical figures I have read about are placed in specific Viennese locations where I have been. This book rises above the ordinary history because it tells a story, and its source material are the diaries, love letters, correspondence, and government files of the persons and nations who participated. M A fascinating account of the peace conference that established many of the conventions of modern diplomacy and statecraft that we still follow today. It was particularly interesting to me because historical figures I have read about are placed in specific Viennese locations where I have been. This book rises above the ordinary history because it tells a story, and its source material are the diaries, love letters, correspondence, and government files of the persons and nations who participated. Most compelling were the files of Metternich's secret police, devoured by the Austrian Emperor every morning before diplomacy began. That and the influence that two women, Princess Dorothea of Courland and her elder sister Princess Wilhelmina the Duchess of Sagan. Their salons, their love lives, and their flirtations had profound impact on the "Congress that Danced." And they knew it at the time and wielded that power with intention. Well behaved women rarely make history--and these women really did make history. One downer: If one is going to record a volume about European history, especially with an American narrator, it would behoove one to either chose a narrator who is capable of rudimentary French and German pronunciation, or else have a production supervisor who monitors the audio version and corrects his appalling Americanese. If you don't know how to say, "Vive l'Empereur!" you should not record this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Excellent book about the Congress of Vienna, or the 'Maybe' Congress of Vienna. How much really was accomplished because everyone basically partied for 9 months, until Napoleon escaped from the Isle of Elba and began his last 100 days, which would lead to the Battle of Waterloo. I felt like it read like a novel because it explored how the all the personal drama going on in each of the leaders' lives impacted any and all decisions being made. Some leaders confided the negotiations to their mistres Excellent book about the Congress of Vienna, or the 'Maybe' Congress of Vienna. How much really was accomplished because everyone basically partied for 9 months, until Napoleon escaped from the Isle of Elba and began his last 100 days, which would lead to the Battle of Waterloo. I felt like it read like a novel because it explored how the all the personal drama going on in each of the leaders' lives impacted any and all decisions being made. Some leaders confided the negotiations to their mistresses, asking their opinion. Metternich was so lovesick for the Duchess Sagan, I wondered how he was able to get anything accomplished. I listened to this on audiobook while driving in my van or while running the local trails. I was engrossed in the history and side-stories of each major player during this peace conference. I even found myself laughing out loud at some parts. Historians later looked down upon the Congress of Vienna, because of all of the excess: parties every day, lavish dinners, drinking, etc, all made for slow progress of the peace treaty. In his epilogue, the author notes that this may have been a good thing. All of the major world leaders were in the same geographic location when Tallyrand received the message that Napoloen had escaped. They were able to decide, together, how to defeat him once and for all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Quinby6696 Frank

    I'll always remember the AP modern history exam question my senior year in high school 'lo these 54 years ago. Something to the effect of: pick one statesman - either Metternich, Talleyrand or Castlereagh - and discuss his approach to diplomacy vis a vis the other two at the Congress of Vienna. A nifty and thought-provoking question. If I had read David King's book way back then I would have had so much more to say! King makes that famous congress come alive with his well-researched portrayal of I'll always remember the AP modern history exam question my senior year in high school 'lo these 54 years ago. Something to the effect of: pick one statesman - either Metternich, Talleyrand or Castlereagh - and discuss his approach to diplomacy vis a vis the other two at the Congress of Vienna. A nifty and thought-provoking question. If I had read David King's book way back then I would have had so much more to say! King makes that famous congress come alive with his well-researched portrayal of all the major and minor players with plenty of juicy anecdotal material to hold the reader's interest. The book makes clear the immense difficulty faced by this massive collection of representatives from the powerful and not-so-powerful countries - conquerors of Napoleon - all with differing agendas trying to forge a lasting peace while maintaining a strong balance of power. A valuable contribution to modern European diplomatic history.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    First, I listened to the audio book version so my review is colored by that lens. This book is quite interesting yet I feel sometimes the author focuses more on the salons, balls, gossip, etc than the actual diplomacy in the room. Saying that, he does do a good job in connecting the extracurricular activities into how it affected the leaders and diplomats of the main five powers. I plan to read Adam Zamoyski's book on this event sometime soon, and I will come back to add a comparison once comple First, I listened to the audio book version so my review is colored by that lens. This book is quite interesting yet I feel sometimes the author focuses more on the salons, balls, gossip, etc than the actual diplomacy in the room. Saying that, he does do a good job in connecting the extracurricular activities into how it affected the leaders and diplomats of the main five powers. I plan to read Adam Zamoyski's book on this event sometime soon, and I will come back to add a comparison once completed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Frederic Kerr

    This is written more like a 19th century gossip column than a history book, but it's well done. The Congress of Vienna not only re-set Europe's borders after Napoleon's first abdication in 1814, but also entrenched religious rights for Jews and took steps toward abolishing slavery. Interesting to learn about the personalities and rivalries involved. There's a very quick treatment of the Hundred Days before Napoleon's second abdication, culminating with Waterloo and his exile to Saint Helena. The This is written more like a 19th century gossip column than a history book, but it's well done. The Congress of Vienna not only re-set Europe's borders after Napoleon's first abdication in 1814, but also entrenched religious rights for Jews and took steps toward abolishing slavery. Interesting to learn about the personalities and rivalries involved. There's a very quick treatment of the Hundred Days before Napoleon's second abdication, culminating with Waterloo and his exile to Saint Helena. The book made me want to learn more about Metternich and Talleyrand, two of the main diplomats.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Fantastic historical nonfiction account of the peace congress in Vienna in 1814 following Napoleons exile to Elba. The author kept the tale from ever being dry or dull. It almost read like a novel. I definitely want to check out other books written by David King as this was so enjoyable and so well written. It also had so much detail and truly set the scene. One could imagine exactly how it would be living in Vienna and experiencing it all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    A wonderful history about the Vienna Congress of 1814, a super fascinating 9 month event that happened in Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars in which all of the different European powers met together to discuss how to move forward, to allocate territories, set boundaries, and of course see and be seen.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Roderigo

    Covered the facts, good for people new to history. Personally found it an easy read but too sallow and his habit of repeating interesting facts about people numerous times was quite annoying (i remembered the first reference David). Covers all main facts for someone not looking to read anything heavier.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Helen Yoest

    Geez, who knew! What a wild bunch!! In the end, I heard so much the accomplishes during that time, and it was all detailed except of course, the increase in birthrate. lol A NYC blackout ain't got notting on these people. I loved it. Geez, who knew! What a wild bunch!! In the end, I heard so much the accomplishes during that time, and it was all detailed except of course, the increase in birthrate. lol A NYC blackout ain't got notting on these people. I loved it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Millo

    Informative, interesting, and well written. In contrast to Kissinger's A World Restored, this book contains more information about the social and cultural side of the congress. Highly recommended. Informative, interesting, and well written. In contrast to Kissinger's A World Restored, this book contains more information about the social and cultural side of the congress. Highly recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A Good Read, I must add if you like to learn about real History. Talleyrand Turns out to be a Diplomat worth learning about. I liked this book very much.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    David King is a great historical storyteller.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christine Schmidt

    Lots of details for a history geek. AP Euro teachers' catnip. Lots of details for a history geek. AP Euro teachers' catnip.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maithili

    Audiobooked this before a trip to Vienna, interesting enough to add history to being in that town but narratively not great. A little gossipy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aishuu

    It's interesting to see the evolution of early international politics through this conference. Plenty of good information here, and highlights the less famous aspect of Napoleon's fall. It's interesting to see the evolution of early international politics through this conference. Plenty of good information here, and highlights the less famous aspect of Napoleon's fall.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steven Shane

    So detailed with the social history, I wanted to have as vivid a picture of the political details too.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Napoleon abdicated from the French throne in 1814, but his abdication didn't solve the problems created by the previous quarter-century of warfare and destruction and looting. Almost every political structure that Europe had built up was damaged or transformed, and there were an awful lot of grudges to be settled and damage to be repaired. But how to do it? The Vienna Congress set out to figure it all out, to put Europe back together again. The initial plan was to work in Vienna for a few weeks. Napoleon abdicated from the French throne in 1814, but his abdication didn't solve the problems created by the previous quarter-century of warfare and destruction and looting. Almost every political structure that Europe had built up was damaged or transformed, and there were an awful lot of grudges to be settled and damage to be repaired. But how to do it? The Vienna Congress set out to figure it all out, to put Europe back together again. The initial plan was to work in Vienna for a few weeks. That proved wildly optimistic, as six months of negotiations (fit in around an awful lot of socializing and conspicuous consumption) decided almost nothing. Then word came that Napoleon had left Elba, the little island off Italy where he had been exiled--not imprisoned, it's important to note; he was made Emperor of the island and allowed to retain a small number of ships and soldiers--limits he promptly exceeded, of course. How did anyone really expect this colossally restless and egomaniacal man to be content supervising renovations on his house and playing at being ruler of this unimportant place? So he left Elba. And everyone in Vienna panicked (one could hardly blame them). And then they had to go about defeating him again, with all the attendant horrors and waste and loss of life (anyone who is tempted to admire Napoleon for his daring should remember just how expendable he thought all other people were in pursuit of his own magnificence). The Congress is interesting both as social history--so many glittering and powerful people gathered together in one glittering place with so many different agendas and values and goals, everything from creating new nations to ending slavery to covering one's debts to seducing a new mistress to reforming international copyright law--and as political and diplomatic history. The idea that regular meetings between national leaders is an important way to negotiate disputes and maintain peace, the basic assumption behind everything from the UN to the G7, begins here. And the delegates to the Congress--which never actually met in full, largely because the leading powers found it more appealing to meet in private and settle things without dozens of smaller political units and independent entities interfering--in the end set the course for much of the next century, for good or for ill. I really enjoyed this book and learned a great deal from it. I did find the copyediting to be inconsistent and sometimes oddly deficient; there were a number of small errors in the writing that I found distracting. Like this: "He had moved to Hapsburg capital twenty-two years before..." (where's the definite article?). Or a description of a decorative handrailing made of "muskets captured from Napoleon's armies at the Battle of Leipzig and strewn together with branches of a willow tree" (strewn? this word does not mean what you think it means). These may be small errors, but there are more of them than there should be, and they're distracting.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.