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Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the…
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Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2014; vuoden 2008 painos)

– tekijä: Adam Zamoyski (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
388849,022 (4.04)9
"In the wake of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, the French emperor's imperious grip on Europe began to weaken, raising the question of how the continent was to be reconstructed after his defeat. While the Treaty of Paris that followed Napoleon's exile in 1814 put an end to a quarter century of revolution and war in Europe, it left the future of the continent hanging in the balance." "Eager to negotiate a workable and lasting peace, the major powers - Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia - along with a host of lesser nations, began a series of committee sessions in Vienna: an eight-month-long carnival that combined political negotiations with balls, dinners, artistic performances, hunts, tournaments, picnics, and other sundry forms of entertainment for the thousands of aristocrats who had gathered in the Austrian capital. Although the Congress of Vienna resulted in an unprecedented level of stability in Europe, the price of peace would be high. Many of the crucial questions were decided on the battlefield or in squalid roadside cottages amid the vagaries of war. And the proceedings in Vienna itself were not as decorous as is usually represented." "Adam Zamoyski draws on a wide range of original sources, which include not only official documents, private letters, diaries, and firsthand accounts, but also the reports of police spies and informers, to reveal the steamy atmosphere of greed and lust in which the new Europe was forged. Meticulously researched, masterfully told, and featuring a cast of some of the most influential and powerful figures in history, including Tsar Alexander, Metternich, Talleyrand, and the Duke of Wellington, Rites of Peace tells the story of these extraordinary events and their profound historical consequences."--BOOK JACKET.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:WojtekM
Teoksen nimi:Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
Kirjailijat:Adam Zamoyski (Tekijä)
Info:HarperCollins (2008), Edition: Reprint, 416 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (tekijä: Adam Zamoyski) (2014)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 8) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This book provides a great overview of the Congress of Vienna. It starts with the events leading up to the Congress, which is invaluable to help understand the discussions during the Congress itself. The book provides a good balance between the Viennese gossip ("who is sleeping with whom"),provided by the detailed police spy reports and letters of the participants, and the detailed negotiations. The gossipy details help to make the key figures of the Congress more human and therefore easier to understand.

This book is strongly recommended as a very readable overview of an event that changed world history. Reading it today helps explain the challenges facing political leaders in the EU who are trying to reach consensus on things as well as the challenges of trying to get discussions started on the Syrian crisis.
  M_Clark | Jan 31, 2016 |
Rites of Peace by Adam Zamoyski is an epic. At around 570 pages it is a thorough description of the people, events, and decisions surrounding the Congress of Vienna 1814-1815. Zamoyski provides a very readable account of a defining moment in European history starting with the very throes of Napoleon's France through to his eventual despatch to St Helena and the conclusion of the diplomatic concert that redrew Europe.

Zamoyski draws from a large number of sources especially the personal correspondence of the main actors. The copious letters and notes they drafted provides a treasure trove for historians. Zamoyski points out in his introduction the distinct absence of analytical coverage of the Congress of Vienna and indeed it is a surprisingly sparse field. With so much ink having been devoted to the all-conquering Napoleonic France, the lack of literature on the Congress is quite some gap. Zamoyski has filled the niche incredibly. His is an incredibly easy read for a 570 page treatise on a diplomatic negotiation. The personalities involved burst from the page, their interests and activities giving them rounded personalities.

Much of Zamoyski's work is about the people rather than just their deeds. The most prominent players at the Congress have plenty of pages devoted to them. Metternich, Castlereagh, and Alexander are the leads. Each of them is described in detail, their foibles exposed and analysed, their successes and their intrigues plotted out through the various turns of the negotiation.

While Zamoyski is describing a process and the people involved in it, he has also set out an entire class of person who existed in early 19th century Europe. Much like the generals for hire who fought for various causes in their careers, the statesmen involved appear as an elite and highly mobile cadre often promoting aims for leaders who were not of their own nationality.

Another class of person featured heavily in Zamoyski's work is the ambitious socialite woman. Zamoyski's tale is not just of the great men who changed the world around them but also the women who sought to profit and enjoy themselves along the way. At times the work reads a little less like a dedicated historical analysis and more like a breathless celebration of scandal and gossip. The number of balls and illicit encounters threaded throughout the work sometimes outweighs the limited progress the negotiations make.

Indeed, Zamoyski may have been better off not replicating all of the soiree information and devoting a little more to the negotiation. It is ultimately the diplomatic dance that makes the Congress of Vienna a special moment in time rather than the socialising it has become notorious for.

The various phases of diplomatic action are the most fascinating parts of the work. The initial phase of battlefield diplomacy as Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Britain attempt to move themselves into the right positions as they converge on Paris. Of course it is Russia who gets to Paris first, setting the tone for the next couple years of negotiation battle. Alexander of Russia is the primary figure, his decisions seemingly often influenced only by his latest whim, the archetype of the monarch as despot unaware of the implications of his actions.

Getting to Paris first really seems to have given Alexander a first mover's advantage he never relinquished. For all his dancing and later mysticism, he is really the dominant figure of the Congress by Zamoyski's analysis. His obstructionism frustrates his allies in the later phases of negotiation, especially in securing his unusual aims for Poland as a nation under his rule as Russian Emperor.

The phases of the Congress itself often read like the worst excesses of the UN in the modern environment, small issues derailing the best of aspirations, and dogma getting in the way of progress. Zamoyski is particularly positive about the skills of French delegate Tallyrand. It is Tallyrand who displays by far the most skill in negotiation, clearly using techniques still credible today. Of all the participants, it is only Tallyrand who coes out with credit under Zamoyski's analysis. He is somewhat scathing about pretty much everyone else. In particular the British diplomats do not seem to fare well, clumsily failing to take advange of opportunities especially in the early going and finding themselves out-played frequently.

Of all the many characters present though it is the King of Württemberg who comes in for by far the most criticism. It is not clear exactly what Zamoyski has against him but every description is a rendition of Württemberg as a contemptuously obese monster.

It is all these second tier characters though which make Rites of Peace so excellent. The comprehensive coverage of the many issues at stake and the players involved works so well. The issues which carried on throughout much of the discussion seem never to have really been resolved. The Polish, Saxon, and Dutch questions were never really dealt with. Taking decisions on these kind of major issues requires serious leadership of a type that seems not to have been present at the Congress.

What was present though was pioneering diplomatic process. This must have been down to the combination of Metternich and Congress facilitator Gentz. The setting up of sub-committees to handle various lesser points in smaller groups is the way such matters have been dealt with ever since. It would have been nice to have seen a little more of how these sub-committee played out rather than their being reported on generically. The description of negotiators from States such as Spain and Portugal being difficult and obstructive when they owed their very existence to those they were being difficult to is a snapshot in time that could be entirely contemporary today.

The step-change in the pace of negotiation comes with the return of Napoleon and the Waterloo campaign. It all seems a bit of a rush compared to the turgid speed of the main negotiations. Zamoyski also rushes it a little, not giving a huge amount of space to the final decisions following Waterloo.

Once the discussions are over, Zamoyski's conclusion is really quite negative. Having been slightly critical of various actors throughout, especially of their personal failings, Zamoyski's own analysis in the final chapter is entirely negative. The Congress he has researchd and written about so outstandingly is a failure. It fails to solve the underlying issues within Europe, sets Britain firmly on a non-European track, leaves the fate of lesser nations such as the Poles at the mercy of others, sets Austria up for failure and Prussia up for militarised expansion. The most interesting element of Zamoyski's final analysis is the major disruption of the bonds between people and their rulers. Parcelling populations out undermines stability.

Zamoyski alludes to some of the other failings of the Congress, especially the abandonment of non-major powers. The great powers of Europe make decisions for themselves but their sacrifice of places like Genoa is really unforgivable. One legacy of the Congress which Zamoyski does not really recognise is that it put in place a system to defend the interests of Nation States against more localised interests. Today the international environment still suffers from the ubiquity of State in decision making to the exclusion of everything else. The Congress snuffed out so many great historical peoples, especially the City-States. The death warrant of Genoa, various Cantons in Switzerland, and the Hanseatic cities was explicitly signed by the Congress, cementing the power of the nation over that of the city.

The Congress of Vienna is a significant point in history, a possible precursor to the League of Nations, United Nations, and European Union. It is a moment in history that saw a change of eras. The people involved are fascinating and Adam Zamoyski has brought them to life magnificently. His very readable history has shone a light on the Congress, bringing it to the mainstream and providing outstanding desription of the unfolding of one of the greatest episodes of negotiation the world has ever seen. ( )
1 ääni Malarchy | Jun 27, 2013 |
Om iets te begrijpen van hoe Europa van vandaag werkt, is het raadzaam om dit boek te lezen. ( )
  ChrisHeynen | Jul 27, 2009 |
For two decades the scourge of the ancien régime Napoleon Bonaparte has been the fear and master of the crowned heads of Europe, but his attempt to add Russia to his list of conquests proved the beginning of his downfall. In December 1812 he was forced back to Paris in advance of his retreating army by the Russians, who as they advanced across Europe, turned his former allies Prussia, Austria, and the other German states into theirs. In April 1813 the allied armies joined by England and several exiled kings arrived in Paris and forced Napoleon’s surrender. But months before the question of how to undo what revolutionary and then imperial France had done to Europe occupied the minds of the kings and their diplomats as much as defeating the French army.

Following victory parades and triumphal visits they convened in the Austrian capital in 1814 to work out the details of the peace. They were filled with a hope for a lasting peace and the new ideal of international law. They even invited the defeated power, France, represented by newly restored monarchy to attend the Congress. Ironically the French ambassador, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, had previously done the same job for the last French ruler, Napoleon. The Congress with its multiple attending sovereigns immediately became the new center of European diplomacy and social life, compete with accompanying diversions. As the author puts it,

“Perhaps the most striking aspect of the great charade known as the Congress of Vienna is the continuous interplay between the serious and the frivolous, an almost parasitical co-existence of activities which might appear to be mutually exclusive. The rattling of sabres and talk of blood mingled with the strains of the waltz and court gossip, and the most ridiculously trivial pursuits went hand in hand with impressive work.” Page 385

Zamonyski has plowed though voluminous official archives and memoires of the participants to give a detailed, highly readable, account of the preparation for and the proceedings of the Congress, both official and social, followed by his own assessment of what it accomplished: consultation and cooperation between multiple states, what we would now call a Summit Meeting, as a means of resolving an international crisis, and what it failed to accomplish: a permanent peace and stable boundaries. ( )
1 ääni MaowangVater | Jul 26, 2009 |
This book is mainly about the 1815 Congress of Vienna, at which there was some frenetic diplomacy, a lot of fornication, and an amazing amount of dancing. Again, it is the stories that are fascinating; such as the Austrian secret police report on one of the British delegates, which noted that he, a friend and some very loose women had taken a Viennese house and 'turned it into a f---ing-shop'. Zamoyski casts a caustic eye on these and other shenanigans, and shows how Waterloo and The Hundred Days was all Tsar Alexander's fault (because he was an impulsive fathead, and set Napoleon up in Elba without consulting any of his allies first); how the British claim to be the disinterested brokers of Europe was so much humbug; and chiefly, how desperately tawdry and cynical the whole business was. The fascinating cast includes, besides Alexander, sliding from swollen-headed arrogance to religious mania, Napoleon, Wellington, Metternich, Castlereagh, Beethoven, Blucher and an assortment of ladies of dubious virtue. ( )
1 ääni sloopjonb | May 9, 2008 |
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"In the wake of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, the French emperor's imperious grip on Europe began to weaken, raising the question of how the continent was to be reconstructed after his defeat. While the Treaty of Paris that followed Napoleon's exile in 1814 put an end to a quarter century of revolution and war in Europe, it left the future of the continent hanging in the balance." "Eager to negotiate a workable and lasting peace, the major powers - Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia - along with a host of lesser nations, began a series of committee sessions in Vienna: an eight-month-long carnival that combined political negotiations with balls, dinners, artistic performances, hunts, tournaments, picnics, and other sundry forms of entertainment for the thousands of aristocrats who had gathered in the Austrian capital. Although the Congress of Vienna resulted in an unprecedented level of stability in Europe, the price of peace would be high. Many of the crucial questions were decided on the battlefield or in squalid roadside cottages amid the vagaries of war. And the proceedings in Vienna itself were not as decorous as is usually represented." "Adam Zamoyski draws on a wide range of original sources, which include not only official documents, private letters, diaries, and firsthand accounts, but also the reports of police spies and informers, to reveal the steamy atmosphere of greed and lust in which the new Europe was forged. Meticulously researched, masterfully told, and featuring a cast of some of the most influential and powerful figures in history, including Tsar Alexander, Metternich, Talleyrand, and the Duke of Wellington, Rites of Peace tells the story of these extraordinary events and their profound historical consequences."--BOOK JACKET.

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