The Habsburg Empire

  • by Pieter M. Judson
  • Narrated by Michael Page
  • 18 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In a panoramic and pioneering reappraisal, Pieter M. Judson shows why the Habsburg Empire mattered so much, for so long, to millions of Central Europeans.
Rejecting fragmented histories of nations in the making, this bold revision surveys the shared institutions that bridged difference and distance to bring stability and meaning to the far-flung empire. By supporting new schools, law courts, and railroads along with scientific and artistic advances, the Habsburg monarchs sought to anchor their authority in the cultures and economies of Central Europe. A rising standard of living throughout the empire deepened the legitimacy of Habsburg rule, as citizens learned to use the empire's administrative machinery to their local advantage. Nationalists developed distinctive ideas about cultural difference in the context of imperial institutions, yet all of them claimed the Habsburg state as their empire.
The empire's creative solutions to governing its many lands and peoples - as well as the intractable problems it could not solve - left an enduring imprint on its successor states in Central Europe. Its lessons remain no less important today.

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What the Critics Say

"[A] subtly argued work of deep scholarship.... A nuanced scholarly reappraisal of a significant European empire." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Important counter to today's nationalisms

Judson's book is a fascinating attempt to dispel a persistent narrative, bolstered by nationalist and Cold War historians, of the Empire as a silly anachronism that somehow suppressed the 'natural' development of the ethnic groups within it. Obviously, there are some resonance in Europe today and Judson is clearly making a case for supra-national organisations in general as enablers of a benign and controlled expression of ethnic identity in contrast to its rather nastier post-Empire iterations (he tips his hand a bit in the closing chapter)

Like all serious history books, it becomes a bit bogged down in its audio version when getting in to some of the details, but attention is amply rewarded.

The reading is crisp and engaging throughout, although the decision to rather pedantically ensure every town and city was listed under its names in different languages was occasionally a bit wearisome.
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- Mr. M. J. Bright

Book Details

  • Release Date: 25-01-2017
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio