A Personal History of Habsburg Europe

Book - 2013
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For centuries much of Europe was in the hands of the very peculiar Habsburg family. An unstable mixture of wizards, obsessives, melancholics, bores, musicians and warriors, they saw off - through luck, guile and sheer mulishness - any number of rivals, until finally packing up in 1918. From their principal lairs along the Danube they ruled most of Central Europe and Germany and interfered everywhere - indeed the history of Europe hardly makes sense without them. Simon Winder's extremely funny new book plunges the reader into a maelstrom of alchemy, skeletons, jewels, bear-moats, unfortunate marriages and a guinea-pig village. Danubia is full of music, piracy, religion and fighting.
Publisher: London : Picador, 2013.
ISBN: 9781447229773
Characteristics: 550 p. : ill., 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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