Vienna,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 somestates 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 seeBeyond 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 eyeAn 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 againVienna,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


10 thoughts on “Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made War, Peace, and Love at the Congress of Vienna

  1. Kelly Kelly says:

    Okay, so you know how you re in that airport bookstore because you ve tragically finished off your book before its even time to take off Because naturally nobody on goodreads would be caught there because they forgot to bring a book So you re standing, torn, between that shelf of NYT bestsellers, cheap thrillers, a few Serious Looking Histories and those shiny, shiny pretty ridiculously indulgent magazine racks and trying to pretend like you don t care at all if Brangelina had the world Okay, so you know how you re in that airport bookstore because you ve tragically finished off your book before its even time to take off Because naturally nobody on goodreads would be caught there because they forgot to bring a book So you re standing, torn, between that shelf of NYT bestsellers, cheap thrillers, a few Serious Looking Histories and those shiny, shiny pretty ridiculously indulgent magazine racks and trying to pretend like you don t care at all if Brangelina had the world s most beautiful baby Or, for men, I don t know sports porn magazines full of ridiculous statistics that you do not EVER need to know but like saying when you ve had too many beers Okay, so this book solves all your problems This should be placed strategically in the center of all these locations, and advertised better with a fewripped bosoms on the cover, it would sell like hotcakes I promise you.This book has something for us all Yes, you probably need to care a bit about history and have some very basic knowledge about the Napoloeonic Wars but really the bare facts of there was this little French dude Napoleon who tried to conquer Europe and pissed off everyone in the meantime and then got his own Mediterraean island afterwards while everyone tried to fix the continent in Vienna afterwards will suffice Oh, also, the Bourbons are sissies But other than that You can really just dive right into this one The first third of the book spends some time setting up the various important personages who took part in the congress, giving detailed character studies of their histories and personalities It also deals with the various roads both literal and figurative that the nations took to the Congress, and the various positions that everyone came into it with, as well as what they wanted He could have written the whole book just about that, these people are so incredibly colorful and rich Metternich, Talleyrand, Tsar Alexander, Castlereagh, Wellington, and various little kings, princes, ministers and lords are all there, and all have their famous witty lines, shining moments, crazy rages, and emotional breakdowns to detail This was the Romantic period, and these people embodied it to a T.Then he really gets into the good stuff The 19th century was the century of diarists and letter writers, and the Congress was an epicenter of all of that So there are sooo many good first hand accounts of he said this at a party, and so many juicy quotes Almost all the principals wrote memoirs or diaries of the time, so the first hand research is really really good He really gets into the various rounds of political intrigue, combined with the parties in between the conference meetings, how people tried to stab each other in the back at balls, delivered devastating one liners at the opera that wrecked someone s career, how jockeying for seating at a concert was an olympic sport, and the fortunes that people spent on doing all of it.Even better, the various love affairs going out throughout the Congress He tends to stick to the ones at the very upper eschelon, but also takes particular glee in talking about the tsar s affairs with flower girls, princes fruit selling mistresses, and this or that minister s pretty boy tucked out of the way For some juicy examples Prince Metternich s devastating affair with the Duchess of Sagan is chronicled in painstaking detail, showing this powerful, stern, intelligent man reduced to howling at the wind for this woman who didn t love him they quote from his love letters to her frequently , and how the congress almost broke down from his lack of attention to the proceedings due to how distracted he was with his doomed pursuit of her It also details the Duchess rivalry with the Princess Bagration, a Russian noblewoman who used to be Metternich s lover, and is jealous of Sagan and wants to take her down, and so teams up with the Tsar who hates Metternich , to plot against her Some scheming person with a sick sense of humor put their apartments across a courtyard from each other in the same building, which makes it all theintense as they host rival salons to each other Talleyrand s young niece Dorothee Sagan s younger sister is only twenty when she comes to be the embassy s hostess, fleeing from a bad marriage and the death of a child, and comes out her powerful uncle s lover, having slept around with various military heroes and noblemen along the way and on and on and on, weaving in these affairs into the intrigue and showing how these various loves, jealousies, jokes Metternich s joke on the secretary of the Congress, Gentz, on April Fool s Day is absolutely fantastic affairs gone sour and bitter rivalries shaped the outcome and course of the congress.The only complaint I have is that it wrapped up too soon, moving on to talk about Napoleon s Hundred Days after the escape from Elba, the campaign at Waterloo, Wellington s leadership, the state of affairs in France, etc I wish that he had spent eventime detailing the various ins and outs of the Congress rather than moving away towards Napoleon But that only happens right at the end, and obviously you can t not acknowledge it the earlier dealings with Napoleon in the book reveal a lot about his life on Elba and say a lot about why he left, so that part is really intersting But I just felt like I knew a lot of the historical fact already, and you can find detailed military strategy in history books I wantedof the juicy character study and petty intrigue, is all, since that was clearly the book s strength.Anwyay, obviously highly recommended You ll breeze right on through it I promise Incredibly fast read It slike a novel than a historical book, really He should have made it into one If I wereambitious, I would I should But yeah, it also makes for a great one to read out loud Seriously, we were giggling insanely at some of the love letters written by the most powerful men of the era describing their devotion to their mistresses You MUST do dramatic readings at that point You re really missing out if you don t Ed Note This is taking a little longer to get through than I thought it would, but only because the boyfriend and I have decided to read it aloud to each other, not because it isn t good On the contrary, this is a rollicking, wonderfully good time, written like a colorful epic novel We re just savoring it as much as possible with a deliciously slow reading.Original OH HELL YES My favorite historical period, combined with lots of gossip and intrigue Hoping to really get into this on my vacation next week


  2. Madeline Madeline says:

    Kings, queens, princes, and diplomats would all pour into the city of Vienna in the autumn of 1814 for the highly anticipated peace conference More than 200 states and princely houses would send delegates to settle the many unresolved issues How were the victors to reconstruct the war torn continent How were they going to make restitution to the millions who had lost family members or suffered the horrors of Napoleonic domination The Vienna Congress offered a chance to correct the wrongs of Kings, queens, princes, and diplomats would all pour into the city of Vienna in the autumn of 1814 for the highly anticipated peace conference More than 200 states and princely houses would send delegates to settle the many unresolved issues How were the victors to reconstruct the war torn continent How were they going to make restitution to the millions who had lost family members or suffered the horrors of Napoleonic domination The Vienna Congress offered a chance to correct the wrongs of the past and, many hoped, create the best of all possible worlds Reasoned opinion predicted that all negotiations would be wrapped up in three or four weeks Even the most seasoned diplomats expected nothan six But the delegates, thrilled by the prospects of a lasting peace, indulged in unrestrained celebrations The Vienna peace conference soon degenerated into a glittering vanity fair masked balls, medieval style jousts, and grand formal banquets a sparkling chaos that would light up the banks of the Danube First off, many thanks to Kelly for writing a great review of this book back in 2009 she raved about this book, and I ve always had it in the back of my mind when browsing the history section in bookstores A few months ago, I finally found a copy and bought it Never mind that I know nothing about the Napoleonic Wars aside from the fact that Napoleon got banished, escaped and invaded France again, and then got banished for real a second time never mind that the only thing I knew about the Congress of Vienna was that I confused it with the Treaty of Versailles on an AP Western Civ test in high school I was promised gossip, intrigue, politics, romance, gossip, parties, and a heaping dose ofgossip so I was on board And guys, Vienna 1814 delivers I would say without reservations that this is probably the most readable history book I ve ever come across King s writing is clear and flows easily, and I had no trouble keeping the large cast of characters straight, despite never having heard of most of them He does a wonderful job portraying all the different aspects of the Vienna Congress on the one hand, you had all the delegates working around the clock to restore Europe to its pre Napoleon state which involved, among other things, deciding which of Napoleon s relatives would be allowed to keep the titles he had bestowed on them and which should be returned to the rightful heirs and trying to keep everyone happy which was impossible, of course while at the same time there was a crazy party every single night, as well as salons where all the political powers were gathered Often, a diplomat could accomplishby attending a ball for an hour than he could by working in his office all day And meanwhile, as all of this is happening, Napoleon is sitting on Elba, tenting his fingers and plotting his return to France It isn t until he actually succeeds, landing in France and recruiting an army almost instantly, that all the Vienna Congress delegates look around and say, Well, damn Guess we d better start figuring this out for real and actually accomplish what they set out to do six months ago All the characters and they really feel like characters, not historical figures are great, the descriptions are beautiful, and you shouldn t shy away from this book if you know almost nothing about Napoleon Basically, if those first two paragraphs I quoted from the book intrigue you at all, the rest of the book will not disappoint


  3. A.J. Howard A.J. Howard says:

    The genre of popular history is somewhat hard to pin down, over the years I ve seen it defined in a number of different ways The most common definition you ll find is any work of history written for a non academic audience, but this has always seemed somewhat limiting to me After all, can t a work accessible to the general populace also advance scholarship This dichotomy between popular and academic history results in having the former type be almost overwhelmingly broad while the latter ty The genre of popular history is somewhat hard to pin down, over the years I ve seen it defined in a number of different ways The most common definition you ll find is any work of history written for a non academic audience, but this has always seemed somewhat limiting to me After all, can t a work accessible to the general populace also advance scholarship This dichotomy between popular and academic history results in having the former type be almost overwhelmingly broad while the latter type is restricted to only nearly unreadable articles in academic journals Bit of a tangent I know, but having said that, know that Vienna 1814 isn t just pop history, it s bubblegum history You might want to put a not that there s anything wrong with that after all sweeping subjective opinions I make in this review A word of explanation I ordered this used off , and only realized afterwords that I had gotten it confused with, Adam Zamoyski s Rites of Peace, published one year before this one, a book that I had flipped through at a book store shortly after it came out Normally not a big deal, right It s not like I have read any Zamoyski before, or had heard anything remarkable about that book I just had wanted to read a history of the Congress of Vienna for a few years, and that one happened to pick my eye My first hint of warning was that there were no maps This alone left me pretty disappointed because, ever since My Father s Dragon I rather enjoy having a nice map to consult when I m reading a book, especially when what s being discussed is some semi obscure principality that I m not 100% sure I can pronounce After all, if any topic cries for at least a few handy reference maps, it s the multi power conference that had to determine the fate of a continent full of semi obscure republics formerly known as semi obscure principalities However, it turns I didn t need to be worried about the lack of reference materials, because David King isn t so much concerned with our friends the semi obscure principalities Instead he s interested in who was getting fucked And not fucked in the Poles in the 17th century or Kurds in the 20th century sense ahh Peace Conference humor , but fucked in the Real Housewives of the Hapsburg Empire sort of sense The Congress of Vienna serves as a mere backdrop for King to describe lavish parties, profile fabulous nobles, and pass on tawdry gossip It s not social history, it s tabloid history Again, not that there s anything wrong with that But that was absolutely not what I was looking for I should say that King doesn t neglect the actual Congress itself at all He even manages to artfully weave in an account of Napoleon at Elbe and his breathtaking escape and final hundred days in France But it s all fairly bare bones There s no real context to the events at all When King gives the reader a closer look at important figures, there s a real sense that he s only relating what the general reader will find colorful or intriguing, not trying to build even a decent understanding of the individual I finished this thing several months ago, so I m going to refrain from going into much greater detail To be fair, King obviously didn t set out to write the definitive history on the subject He probably set out to write a entertaining history that happened to enlighten I was just looking for something that attempted to do the same thing, I just prefer the other way around However, if your interested in an incredibly readable, sometimes engaging, often titillating, and always professionally told account of atmosphere surrounding the Congress of Vienna, I can easily point you toward this book Unfortunately, if you want any depth of understanding, I recommend you start elsewhere


  4. Lois Lois says:

    This was gossipy and quite enjoyable.I rated this 1 star because the author kept talking about slavery in reference to white europeans being sold by Muslims into North Africa I borrowed this as an audiobook from Scribd so perhaps I misunderstood some of the particulars here Yet, these European nations are all profiting from many forms of slavery between the captivity of West Africans to the captivity of various ethnic groups across what is now India How fucking hypocritical and ridicu This was gossipy and quite enjoyable.I rated this 1 star because the author kept talking about slavery in reference to white europeans being sold by Muslims into North Africa I borrowed this as an audiobook from Scribd so perhaps I misunderstood some of the particulars here Yet, these European nations are all profiting from many forms of slavery between the captivity of West Africans to the captivity of various ethnic groups across what is now India How fucking hypocritical and ridiculous to act like slavery was only wrong when white europeans were harmed I m not surprised those at this conference felt that way but I m disgusted that the author of a nonfiction historical text like this wouldn t explore this issue In some way other than calling the concern over white europeans just a general call to free slaves They meant specific enslaved peoples here and I expect a modern author to handle this with considerablyaccuracy Otherwise, fun look at the players of this outrageous conference


  5. Lea Lea says:

    Absolutely fantastic A play by play of the most fascinating peace conference in all of History, with its months of intense negotiations by some of the most brilliant diplomats ever, a never ending social callendar, and a glittering parade of Europe s nobility and all the amazing gossip that entails Great for the detailed explanation of the tricky politics AND the scandalous affairs, this book is indispensable for those who really want to understand the Congress of Vienna and its protagonists Absolutely fantastic A play by play of the most fascinating peace conference in all of History, with its months of intense negotiations by some of the most brilliant diplomats ever, a never ending social callendar, and a glittering parade of Europe s nobility and all the amazing gossip that entails Great for the detailed explanation of the tricky politics AND the scandalous affairs, this book is indispensable for those who really want to understand the Congress of Vienna and its protagonists


  6. Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) says:

    If you re at all interested in modern European history, and looking for a bit of a racy tale too, then this book is for you David King is to be commended for crafting such an elegant and engaging work that really does read like a novel Vienna 1814 details the doings of the Congress of Vienna, held in Vienna, Austria, in late 1814 and early 1815, its expressed purpose to restore Europe following the abdication of Napoleon to Elba and the end of nearly 20 years of war across Europe Kings and Qu If you re at all interested in modern European history, and looking for a bit of a racy tale too, then this book is for you David King is to be commended for crafting such an elegant and engaging work that really does read like a novel Vienna 1814 details the doings of the Congress of Vienna, held in Vienna, Austria, in late 1814 and early 1815, its expressed purpose to restore Europe following the abdication of Napoleon to Elba and the end of nearly 20 years of war across Europe Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, and diplomats from all across Europe gathered together to try and bring order from the chaos and advance a long period of peace The problem was that every nation came with its own hidden agenda and only looked to further its own national interests.This very well written book focuses on the efforts and activities of Austria s Prince Metternich, Russia s Tsar Alexander, England s Lord Castlereagh and Duke of Wellington, Prussia s Chancellor Hardenberg, France s Talleyrand, and a whole host of papal legates, minor plenipotentiaries and ministers These men also brought their wives and mistresses to Vienna There are also numerous cameo appearances of many of Europe s wealthy, artistic, and intellectual elite like Beethoven, Antonio Salieri, Jacob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm fame , and so forth Throw into the mix that the conference also attracted every scoundrel, rogue, courtesan, and spy and you have the perfect recipe for political intrigue, espionage, and sexual seduction on a scale never before seen.While the diplomats struggled and schemed in their negotiating sessions during the day, in the evening they attended great parties and balls hosted by the various embassies, or salons, scattered across the Viennese landscape with each country trying to outdo the other in cuisine and grandiose entertainment Flirtations, secret liaisons and seductions, and even flagrant affairs were common among the participants Mr King includes a tremendous amount of background material on each of these fascinating men and women that makes it very easy for the reader to see that they were just like the A List celebrities of our time It is also easy to see where authors like William Makepeace Thackeray, Georgette Heyer, and so many others, got their inspiration Personally, I think that this book would provide terrific fodder for a script for a very entertaining and slightly smutty period drama miniseries on one of the cable channels an early 19th century Peyton Place Even with the diversions of all of the fancy balls and entertainment held during the several months of the Congress of Vienna, the European nations did reach some important multi national agreements and milestones They restored or recognized, in large part, many of the small kingdoms and countries that existed prior to Napoleon s conquests They also redrew borders, and added or took away land and resources from one nation and gave it to another In a fashion they endeavored to ensure that the rule of public law international law would be implemented and applied across the continent An enlightened and consensus position was also adopted that condemned and prohibited the institution of slavery among the signatory states Russia and Prussia were probably the big winners, with much of Poland falling into the hands of the Tsar, and much of the Rhineland being taken from France and added to Prussia Creation of this large German confederation was thought by the diplomats to be a moderating influence on future European affairs a decision that would haunt the continent in less than 100 years in the future with the horrors of World Wars I and II.David King s book climaxes with the escape of Napoleon from his exile on the island of Elba, his return to Paris, and his marshaling of hundreds of thousands of Frenchman to his flag In response, the book describes the rapid mobilization and militarization of the Allies in their fierce determination to defeat Napoleon and the French Army for the last time The Duke of Wellington rides to Brussels, assumes command of the Allied Army, and meets Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo Napoleon is defeated and this time he is exiled to the island of St Helena, an isolated chuck of rock in the middle of the desolate South Atlantic Ocean.This book is important for anyone looking to better understand the Europe of the 20th and 21st centuries but unlike many histories, this book is anything but dusty, musty, or dry as it has the added benefit of being incredibly engaging and loads of fun to read too My only gripe I wish it were longer I wantedI highly recommend David King s Vienna 1814 How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna


  7. Sherwood Smith Sherwood Smith says:

    Anyone interested in the Napoleonic era might enjoy this look at the personalities gathered at the Congress of Vienna over the latter part of 1814 through early 1815, when the protracted and killingly expensive gaieties were summarily interrupted by Napoleon s escape from Elba.It was amusing to recognize bits from this or that memoir or set of letters, however unlike those, King navigates between the Scylla of unreliable narrators and the memoirists are allor less unreliable in that the Anyone interested in the Napoleonic era might enjoy this look at the personalities gathered at the Congress of Vienna over the latter part of 1814 through early 1815, when the protracted and killingly expensive gaieties were summarily interrupted by Napoleon s escape from Elba.It was amusing to recognize bits from this or that memoir or set of letters, however unlike those, King navigates between the Scylla of unreliable narrators and the memoirists are allor less unreliable in that they all wrote with an intention, often to paper over their own shortcomings and affairs de coeur with penetrating hindsight and noble patriotism, or to slander an enemy and the Charybdis of nineteenth and early twentieth century whitewashing.So we know who was sleeping with whom including proof of one of Metternich simportant indiscretions, the letters illustrating which having lain secretly in a Swedish palace wall until 1989 , who was friends or rivals with whom, peppered with the popular Prince de Ligne s wit The man was not the least important in state affairs, but he knew everyone pretty much the entire century, and he had his refined finger on the pulse of society all his long life And people knew it It s just this sort of person who is usually excised from histories in favor or earnest politicians or determined military men, which robs a history of a sense of the time.Most important, I think, King successfully demonstrates how though we use the term Napoleonic for the era Talleyrand was at least as influential, as powerful, and far, farlongsighted Talleyrand never led armies to smite thousands of lives, but he was expert in shaping the fallout into a semblance of order, and then rejuggling as those statesmen and military leaders rushed about grabbing what they could Revolving like satellites are personalities like Alexander of Russia, and those who influenced him, including his mysterious sage That s another thing I like King does not leave out the women Though they were kept from prominence in the legal sense, they had tremendous influence socially and intimately, which King demonstrates.Finally, he illustrates what it was like for so many kings to live for this protracted time in close proximity something that had never before occurred He also illustrates what it was like to participate in inventing a government from afar Louis XVIII s and what happens when that government begins to disintegrate, and nobody knows what will happen next the escape from Elba Finally, we get a succinct overview of Waterloo, and the desperate days of the Alliance It ends shortly after Napoleon is sent off to St Helena.I would have likeddelving into Castlereagh, so conflicted and interesting a character, and a bitfocus on the Polish question and their remarkable champion, but this is a short book, and the writer must pick and choose


  8. Tamara Tamara says:

    Peculiar mismatch of modern and period interests I hate to tell you this, but the fortunes of different peculiarly named German noble houses have turned out to have fuck all historical interest after that little thing we call the 20th century Unless you re going to include the nasty details, I also do not care who Mitternich was dreaming about shagging on any given day I think it was mostly the Tsar Or maybe thats the author But, yes, let s dedicate chapters and chapters to that and only Peculiar mismatch of modern and period interests I hate to tell you this, but the fortunes of different peculiarly named German noble houses have turned out to have fuck all historical interest after that little thing we call the 20th century Unless you re going to include the nasty details, I also do not care who Mitternich was dreaming about shagging on any given day I think it was mostly the Tsar Or maybe thats the author But, yes, let s dedicate chapters and chapters to that and only briefly skim over such curious irrelevant historical asides as the first international statement against slavery and the seed of humanitarian issues in global politics, or one of the Grimm brothers wandering around complaining about book piracy and the beginning of the notion of intellectual property Those aren t interesting at all to a modern reader, lets talk about someone s hat someinstead


  9. Lisa Brown Lisa Brown says:

    A fascinating history of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when the European powers met to decide how to put the world back together after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated What was supposed to be a congress turned into the most lavish party of all time, witharistocracy and royalty gathered in one place than any other point in history, from kings to tzars And while they were busy not accomplishing anything, Napoleon Bonaparte just happened to escape from Elba I truly knew none of this histo A fascinating history of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when the European powers met to decide how to put the world back together after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated What was supposed to be a congress turned into the most lavish party of all time, witharistocracy and royalty gathered in one place than any other point in history, from kings to tzars And while they were busy not accomplishing anything, Napoleon Bonaparte just happened to escape from Elba I truly knew none of this history before, and although I knew about Napoleon, and what he did as he conquered different lands, I never really thought about the mess that was left behind for the leaders of Europe to deal with I really enjoyed this, and the fun little asides and histories of each of the key players


  10. Juliet Juliet says:

    About how the Congress of Vienna arrived at the decisions that it made after Napoleon s first abdication, and why it took such a tremendously long time for them to arrive at a conclusion King does a good job of making all the players distinct and memorable The pictures also help tremendously But this book DESPERATELY NEEDS MAPS King kept referring to this or that country which no longer exists, and how this one was next to that one and why that proximity made it a region that some other coun About how the Congress of Vienna arrived at the decisions that it made after Napoleon s first abdication, and why it took such a tremendously long time for them to arrive at a conclusion King does a good job of making all the players distinct and memorable The pictures also help tremendously But this book DESPERATELY NEEDS MAPS King kept referring to this or that country which no longer exists, and how this one was next to that one and why that proximity made it a region that some other country didn t want someone else to have In other words, the geography of the time was hugely important to all the decision makers concerns and decisions, and not to have a picture of what Europe looked like before Napoleon, after Napoleon, and the changes being proposed during the Congress was a huge omission My dad agreed He read this in two days, but it took me a couple of weeks I found all the deliberations to be slow reading especially in the absence of maps Sometimes I liked the filler stuff about the balls and parties The passage about Count Razumovsky s house burning to cinders I found interesting But other times the entertainment frippery was described with little purpose or specificity The chapters about Napoleon werelively When he escapes from Elba, everything in the book picks up speed and interest there s conflict Something is happening The chapters on Waterloo were very well done just enough detail to be informative yet with enough pace to keep moving forward.In spite of whatever complaints I might have had including the fact of occasional grammar errors , this was enlightening material in that it helped me understand a phrase that got bandied about in my history classes all the time with little explanation Metternich s Europe I understand better the ingredients that were in the pot when the events that triggered WWI happened, and I have aspecific sense of how Napoleon s actions affected Europe both during his time and for centuries afterward I m glad I read this