The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey

Overview

Who are the Austrians and what is their significance as a nation? Are they the heirs of composers such as Mozart and Schubert, of revolutionary thinkers such as Freud and Wittgenstein, or of politicians such as Hitler and Kurt Waldheim? To what extent have the Austrians come to terms with their Nazi past, as opposed to the Germans? Is their future founded in the Holy Roman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Dynasty, or the Anschluss? These are some of the questions noted historian Gordon Brook-Shepherd ...
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Overview

Who are the Austrians and what is their significance as a nation? Are they the heirs of composers such as Mozart and Schubert, of revolutionary thinkers such as Freud and Wittgenstein, or of politicians such as Hitler and Kurt Waldheim? To what extent have the Austrians come to terms with their Nazi past, as opposed to the Germans? Is their future founded in the Holy Roman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Dynasty, or the Anschluss? These are some of the questions noted historian Gordon Brook-Shepherd addresses in this authoritative work. With a lifetime's personal intimacy with Austria, associations with several of its leaders, and access to private Habsburg family archives, Brook-Shepherd traces the identity of a nation, as it developed over a millennium, at the heart of Europe's political existence.

With a lifetime's personal intimacy with the country, friendships with several of its Chancellors, and access to private Habsburg family archives, Brook-Shepherd traces the identity of a nation over a millennium at the heart of Europe's political existence. 24 pp of photos & maps. 512 pp.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How could the nation that produced Mozart and Schubert also have brought forth Hitler and served as accomplice to the Nazi genocide? "There is a pendulum built into the Austrian psyche," observes popular British historian Brook-Shepherd The Last Empress and others in this engrossing, elegantly written history. He views the Austrian national character as instinctively conservative, hesitant and ambivalent, with a tendency to brush unpleasantness of any kind under the carpet-a trait made glaringly evident with the Kurt Waldheim affair, when Austrians were forced to face up belatedly to their role as collaborators in Hitler's Third Reich. This dramatic, lively narrative is primarily a political, military and diplomatic history, with astute passing references to Biedermeier and baroque, to Freud, Klimt, playwright Arthur Schnitzler, satirist Karl Kraus, architect Adolf Loos. Brook-Shepherd persuasively portrays the Austrians as a people whose quest for national identity has been thwarted by their multinationalism-the sprawling Hapsburg Empire was a loose confederation of Danubian peoples-and, even more so, by their fateful ties to Germany. Stalin ironically emerges as the founding father of Austria's postwar independence-the U.S. and Britain initially opposed Austrian self-rule, while Stalin insisted on it, the author speculates, because of secret plans to roll in the tanks later, an option never taken. Austria's 1994 decision to enter the European Union, the author opines, was a major turning point away from isolationism and neutrality. Photos. Apr.
Library Journal
Brook-Shepherd (The Last Empress, HarperCollins, 1991) attempts to give an overview of 1000 years of Austrian history in one volume. Because he was posted by the British Army to Vienna during the post-World War II occupation and personally knew many important Austrians, it is hardly surprising that he takes only 150 pages to cover 996-1914 and 362 pages to cover the final 82 years. Sadly, a disdain for footnotes and attribution defeats a lively writing style, and the work also suffers from annoying generalizations about national characteristics (e.g., "the endemic slackness of the Austrians"). Brook-Shepherd's inside knowledge, however, makes the book worthwhile. When he finally attributes new documents from the Hapsburg family archives, such as Empress Zita's previously unknown diary from the final days of the empire, he reveals new information. For public and undergraduate libraries but a frustration to scholars.Randall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, Iowa
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786705207
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/26/1998
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Map: The Growth of the Habsburg Empire
Map: Austria-Hungary: Ethnic Divisions
Map: Present-day Austria
Foreword
Prologue: A Styrian Painting
Pt. 1 The Path to Empire 1
Pt. 2 Francis Joseph: The Path to Kakania 57
Pt. 3 The Road to War 121
Pt. 4 The Road to Destruction 169
Pt. 5 The Road to Hitler 231
Pt. 6 The Swastika Years 321
Pt. 7 The Road Home 375
Epilogue: Perceptions 451
Note on Bibliography 457
Index 461
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