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10 teosta 386 jäsentä 4 arvostelua

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Richard Bassett worked in Central Europe for many years, first as a professional horn player and then as a staff correspondent of the London Times in Vienna, Rome, and Warsaw, where his dispatches covered the end of the Cold War. He divides his time between London and the Continent.

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My ignorance of the places and events Bassett talks about hampered my full appreciation of this excellent book. Even so, it was wonderful.
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dvoratreis | May 22, 2024 |
There are quite a few things that I could say about this work, but if you're looking for a history of the Austrian Empire's military from the perspective of a historian who tends to admire the House of Austria you could do much worse than this book. It is to be noted that the first half covering the Wars of Religion through the Napoleonic Era is the better half. The post-1814 portion dealing with Vienna's failures to cope with social and political change during the "long" 19th century has a certain routine quality about it, though Bassett is as dismissive of generals such as Conrad and Potiorek (the Austrian field commanders of 1914) as any other historian I've read; their failures had much to do with the Dual Monarchy ultimately having no future.… (lisätietoja)
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Shrike58 | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 3, 2020 |
A fantastically absorbing book about one of Europe's lesser-known military establishments - the Habsburg army. For 300 years the Austrian army existed not to defend a nation, because the Habsburg Empire was not a country but a hodgepodge of nationalities linked only by loyalty to the House of Habsburg. The Austrian army reflected this, soldiers owed allegiance to the Emperor and not their nationality. It was both a crippling liability when things went bad, but equally produced an army that was accounted by those who knew as one of the best in Europe. The Ottoman Turks, Frederick the Great and Napoleon all clashed with Austrian arms, and all came reluctantly to respect the power of the Double Eagle. Napoleon in particular was in no doubt that Austria was the toughest of his foes, the most intransigent and stubborn of his enemies. When the rest of Europe bar Britain, sitting impotently off the shore, fell under Napoleon's thumb, Austria alone remained defiant on the continent, arguably the proudest moment in Habsburg history. However this is not just a book about battles, as impeccably as it brings the great conflicts to life, it also about the personalities that shaped the Habsburg army, the rulers - Maria Theresa, Joseph II, Franz-Josef, and the the generals - Archduke Charles, Eugene of Savoy, Joseph Radetzky. It is also about the courage and elan of the soldiers, comprising 14 different nationalities and three religions, who unified to pull off some of the greatest military victories in European history. However, noble their history, the Austrian military was destined for decline and fall. After being demolished by the Prussians at Konniggratz in 1866, the Austrian army found itself behind the times and never able to catch up. In the end, poor leadership and unbelievable hubris from their generals threw an unprepared army into the meat-grinder of the Eastern Front, where despite fighting bravely for the most part, millions died.The end of the book is predictably sad, yet in a way uplifting, as many of the Empire's soldiers despite their nation falling apart under them, fought stubbornly to the last. In the end the Empire failed their army, not the other way round. This is a superb book, a rare example of detailed military history that is lively, absorbing and a pleasure to read. Fantastic reading, I cant recommend it any more highly.… (lisätietoja)
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drmaf | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 12, 2019 |
Very interesting book. I would have given it a higher rating, however it is highly inaccessible, expecting readers to have significant pre-existing knowledge of people, places, organizations, acronymns, etc., involving Europe, WWII, and more. Expect to interrupt your reading frequently to look things up online.
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mfagan | Aug 16, 2014 |


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