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Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at… (edition 2009)

by David King

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Member:jjmiller50
Title:Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna
Authors:David King
Info:Broadway (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 448 pages
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Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna by David King

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Showing 5 of 5
Fantastic book. I could see the movie playing in my head as I read it. He dwells a bit too much on the superficial details of the entertainments associated with the congress, but that's one of the few criticisms I can offer. Lovely stuff.
  BrianFannin | May 31, 2013 |
It is said, "To the victors, belong the spoils" Whether one agrees with it or not, it became all too clear as the Viennese conference unfolded. The Four conquerors of Napoleon paid lip service to being "fair and equitable" but the ambitions, fears, & vengeful overrode everythng else & Napoleon's return (which Tsar Alexander's folly had created) only served to exacerbate an already intense situation. Metternich, fully aware of Austria's weaknesses, driven to near despair by Russia's ambitions & Prussia's vengeful attitude and Britain's distraction with the American war, brings in France over the objections of Russia & Prussia. Britain's choice of Castlereagh as representative, a dull personality & limited lackluster role exposed Castlereagh's inability to establish Britain's leadership in the conference. Prussia's humiliation at the hands of France blinded them to any other possibilities other than complete destruction of the French yet its emperor did nothing without the Tsar's support. Russia's ambitions fueled from serious fears & desire for respect as a major player in Europe yet Alexander I's bizarre views & love affairs wreaked havoc & nerve racked conferees. In his last triumph in a long life filled with intrigues & surviving revolution & imperial power, France's representative,Tallyrand took full advantage of Metternich until Napoleon's return undercut him.
As King unfolds the events, even the women in these conferees' lives began to dictate the decision making between the five powers as the private battles heated up. By the end of the conference, the battle lines hardened and though so much was accomplished, very little stood up over time. In many ways, though at times a farce, too many questions were left on the table while pretensions to ideals were soon exposed to be unrealistic & inappropriate to the political realities elsewhere. As King delved into the personalities of each of the major conferees as well as the women they loved. It is quite revealing that personalities do influence the events of the day but do not foretell the future. In the end, political realities do the work, the influences of personalities can only either help or destroy.
  wcsdm3 | Feb 8, 2013 |
This book is a piece of serious scholarship, based on hundreds of sources, with detailed analysis of the facts. It is also highly readable with a cast of hundreds of characters, many of whom were the crowned heads of Europe but who were also mad, bad, and dangerous to know. The whole event becomes somewhat surreal when you learn that the full Congress never met.

Yet out of the deliberations of the participants who often worked through informal get togethers at the lavish salons and balls, came arrangements for a post-Napoleon era where some international borders are still recognisable today.

Insightful and well-written, this is a story to ponder over and wonder how so much could be achieved affecting so many people. ( )
  broughtonhouse | May 2, 2012 |
Oh so good, but drags just a touch. ( )
  AngieN | Aug 23, 2009 |
Vienna 1814
by David King
A Review by Colin J. Edwards
Published by Harmony Books $27.50 2008 434 pps.

“The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.” Aldous Huxley
Do not be confused by this book about the Congress of Vienna in 1814. It reads like a novel, but it is serious history as the almost 90 pages of “Notes & Sources” can testify. The style is easy: perhaps a little simplistic in places, but none-the-less an excellent read.
If your politics lean ever so slightly to the left, David King’s book will drive you to distraction. It describes in detail how the privileged few, carved up Europe after Napoleon’s abdication. It demonstrates the blatant greed and narcissism of Kings, Emperors and their Ministers.
We learn about the rich man’s wars, but not too much about the poor man’s fight. King takes us deeply into the chess game that was European politics, and we can see the mind-set that set Europe ablaze in 1914.
Well-behaved women rarely make history. Vienna 1814 confirms that in spades. I never cease to be amazed by man’s inability to keep his level of concentration above his navel for more that limited periods. The future of Europe was never allowed to interfere with the latest sexual conquest. A 100 years later, nothing had changed. During cabinet meetings discussing the war in France, H.H.Asquith (Prime Minister), wrote love letters to Venitia Stanley. They were not very effective. She got engaged to one of his staff – but omitted to mention it.
There were however two notable exceptions to this broad condemnation of the ‘Powers that be’; and they were both English. The first was Robert Stewart – Lord Castlereagh, foreign secretary under Lord Liverpool, and the Duke of Wellington. Castlereagh did his best to get some sense out of the Congress, and was fired for his trouble. The Iron Duke took over and was fortunate that Napoleon skipped Elba and he was able to charge off to Waterloo and win the ultimate battle.
The frightening thing about this book is that nothing has changed. The Congress of Vienna was dominated by an aggressive Russia hell-bent on expansion. Replace Tsar Alexander with Mr Putin, and it is apparent that we have not progressed very far in the last 194 years. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight – ‘twas ever thus.
  Ductor | Oct 8, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307337162, Hardcover)

“Reads like a novel. A fast-paced page-turner, it has everything: sex, wit, humor, and adventures. But it is an impressively researched and important story.”
—David Fromkin, author of Europe’s Last Summer


Vienna, 1814 is an evocative and brilliantly researched account of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With the feared Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated and exiled to the small island of Elba, heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to begin piecing together the ruins of his toppled empire. Major questions loomed: What would be done with France? How were the newly liberated territories to be divided? What type of restitution would be offered to families of the deceased? But this unprecedented gathering of kings, dignitaries, and diplomatic leaders unfurled a seemingly endless stream of personal vendettas, long-simmering feuds, and romantic entanglements that threatened to undermine the crucial work at hand, even as their hard-fought policy decisions shaped the destiny of Europe and led to the longest sustained peace the continent would ever see.

Beyond the diplomatic wrangling, however, the Congress of Vienna served as a backdrop for the most spectacular Vanity Fair of its time. Highlighted by such celebrated figures as the elegant but incredibly vain Prince Metternich of Austria, the unflappable and devious Prince Talleyrand of France, and the volatile Tsar Alexander of Russia, as well as appearances by Ludwig van Beethoven and Emilia Bigottini, the sheer star power of the Vienna congress outshone nearly everything else in the public eye.

An early incarnation of the cult of celebrity, the congress devolved into a series of debauched parties that continually delayed the progress of peace, until word arrived that Napoleon had escaped, abruptly halting the revelry and shrouding the continent in panic once again.

Vienna, 1814 beautifully illuminates the intricate social and political intrigue of this history-defining congress–a glorified party that seemingly valued frivolity over substance but nonetheless managed to drastically reconfigure Europe’s balance of power and usher in the modern age.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Details the 1814 Congress of Vienna, offering portraits of the participants and discussing the political intrigues, illicit affairs, tangled alliances, and bitter rivalries that marked the occasion that transformed the face of nineteenth-century Europe.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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