A strange episode that is at once a central part of American history and a tragic tale of human ambition and cultural misunderstanding. In an ill-starred undertaking, Napoleon III attempted to install Archduke Maximilian of Austria as the Emperor of Mexico. The move pitted liberals against conservatives, and the New World against the Oldand ended with Maximilian's execution, the insanity of his wife, Charlotte, and the emergence of the United States as a world power. "Jasper Ridley has written a riveting account of an episode which is exciting throughout and tragic at the end; it is also essential reading to understand the history of the United States today."Antonia Fraser.