The Final Act: The Roads to Waterloo

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No diplomatic event in history had so stellar a cast as the Congress of Vienna: Tsar Alexander, with his mystical visions, his chimerical moods. Talleyrand, cunning and duplicitous, who would act as a victor though he represented a defeated nation. Castlereagh, alone in His Majesty's government to understand the necessity for a Concert of Europe, who single-handedly built Britain's foreign corps and who would end a suicide. Wellington, the Iron Duke, who would go on to underwrite the diplomatic decisions with ...
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1997 Hard cover First edition. American ed. New in new dust jacket. Hardcover, 1st ed with no marks or names. (S7) Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 560 p. Audience: ... General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

No diplomatic event in history had so stellar a cast as the Congress of Vienna: Tsar Alexander, with his mystical visions, his chimerical moods. Talleyrand, cunning and duplicitous, who would act as a victor though he represented a defeated nation. Castlereagh, alone in His Majesty's government to understand the necessity for a Concert of Europe, who single-handedly built Britain's foreign corps and who would end a suicide. Wellington, the Iron Duke, who would go on to underwrite the diplomatic decisions with military victory. And Metternich, the force majeure, seemingly everywhere at once, trading, entreating, finagling in his unremitting attack on the forces of liberalism. Along with a supporting cast of rogues and mistresses, clairvoyants and spies, they turned Vienna into a theater of intrigue that shaped the face of Europe for a century to come. And hovering over it all, the brooding presence of the man who was not there: Napoleon Bonaparte, whose shadow was the force that drove them to find common ground. He would confirm their worst fears, breaking free of exile to challenge them on the plains of Waterloo.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A delight . . . so engagingly well written and so informative. "-Alistair Horne, The Literary Review

"A splendid work of popular history that brings to life a period which shaped the Europe that exists today. Gregor Dallas . . . takes as his great subject the fall of Napoleon and the rebuilding of war-ravaged Europe in 1814-1815 with the Congress of Vienna . . . [A] gripping tale."-Los Angeles Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a scholarly account of the watershed years, 1814-1815, in Europe when the diplomats and sovereigns of England, France, Prussia and Austria sought to ensure peace after the first fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. Dallas At the Heart of a Tiger traces in excruciating detail negotiations in London, Paris and Vienna among a cast of personalities that includes the first Tsar Alexander of Russia, French statesman Talleyrand, Britain's Duke of Wellington and Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh and Prince Metternich, the Austrian foreign minister. The main focus is on the Congress of Vienna, at which the allies ranged against France drew up a peace accord to end the Napoleonic wars. Dallas outlines the intrigues, philandering and diplomatic chitchat among those who spent the winter in the gay capital on the Danube. The goal of permanent peace was sought through a complex balance of power, redrawing of frontiers and alliances built on secret treaties. These efforts were temporarily upset by the return of Napoleon from exile in Elba. The scarcity of narrative action up to then is somewhat alleviated by the story of his drive to regain mastery of Europe, leading to the climactic Battle of Waterloo. Because the author does not put the events of this era in historical context, general readers will have find it difficult wading through this otherwise worthy study. Illustrations. Oct.
Booknews
The inside front and backcover illustration of European power players prancing about parallels the intricate dance of nations played at the 1814-15 Congress of Vienna. With its stellar cast of all the rulers who mattered at the time except the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte, writer Gregor Dallas narrates the melodramatic history of this pivotal diplomatic event ostensibly to restore "the natural order"of Europe while each leader jockeyed for power, disputed territories, and attacked emerging liberalism. Key players included Tsar Alexander, Tallyrand, Wellington, and Mellernich<-->with a supporting cast of mistresses, spies, other rogues, and Beethoven. Napoleon, of course, was to challenge them anew at Waterloo. Quaint b&w illustrations. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A broad, colorful, engaging panorama of a crucial moment in the shaping of modern Europe, tracing the fall of Napoleon and the wily maneuvers of the victors to carve up his collapsed empire.

Dallas (At the Heart of a Tiger: Clemenceau and His World 18411929, 1993) has extraordinary material to work with, and he makes the most of it. The long, costly struggle of England, Russia, and their allies to vanquish Napoleon seemed, with his exile to the island of Elba in 1814, to be over. In the aftermath of the war, the mutually suspicious victors convened the Congress of Nations in Vienna to establish national boundaries, carve out zones of influence, and firmly reassert the place of monarchs in an increasingly republican world. A remarkable cast of characters gathered to map out the new Europe, among them Tsar Alexander of Russia, by turns a mystic and a determinedly shrewd expansionist; Talleyrand, France's representative, a man bright and adaptable enough to have survived both the Revolution and Napoleon's reign; Castlereagh, a moody, brilliant figure who had almost singlehandedly created the British Foreign Service; and Metternich, Austria's Machiavellian foreign minister. Then, incredibly, Napoleon broke loose, quickly rallied his armies, and set out to reclaim his empire. That quest ended at Waterloo, in the most pivotal battle of the 19th century in Europe. Dallas's portraits of leading figures, while frankly opinionated, are deeply informed. He uses his considerable research admirably, offering vivid, fresh depictions of Paris, London, and Vienna, and of the drawing rooms, counting houses, and battlefields that figured in the vast drama. His argument that the treaty that emerged from Napoleon's downfall largely created modern Europe—and the tensions that would lead to even bloodier wars—is persuasive.

A gripping and highly original work of popular history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805031843
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/1997
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.66 (h) x 1.60 (d)

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