Wednesday 13 March 2019

Book Review: Twilight of the Habsburgs - The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph by Alan Palmer (Non-Fiction/History/Biography)

Title: Twilight of the Habsburgs: The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph
Author: Alan Palmer
Weidenfeld and Nicholson

Publication Date: 2001 (1994)
Bought Secondhand


No ruler in modern times reigned in full sovereignty for as long as Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia - and many other lands, too. Titular master of central Europe from 1848 until 1916, he was centre stage throughout the dramatic era in which Italy and Germany emerged as united nation states. His personal decisions were vital both to the outcome of the Crimean War and to the onset of World War I, sixty years later.

Twilight of the Habsburgs is an interesting and informative biography. I have read several biographies of Sissi, in which Franz-Joseph is relegated to a semi-background role, so it was fascinating to read of events told more from his point of view. It certainly gave me a new appreciation for him, and for the difficulties he faced. The only thing I disliked, which I find in many English-written biographies about the Habsburgs, was the use of anglicized names. There's really no need for it. What's wrong with/so difficult about Franz-Joseph? I found it jarring to see it written as Francis Joseph all the time. Overall, though, this is a good, readable biography, so I am giving it four stars.

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