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Vienna, 1814 Vienna, 1814 Vienna, 1814 Vienna, 1814

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  467 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
"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 Napo
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Published March 11th 2008 by Harmony (first published 2008)
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Jan 23, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like gossip magazines but also like to pretend to be intellectual.
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 ...more
Dec 11, 2011 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 ...more
A.J. Howard
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 ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
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 ...more
Sherwood Smith
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 all more or less unreliable in that the
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
Jan 03, 2014 Juliet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
Dec 14, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all--written by a Kentuckian and a professor at my alma mater UK. Yeah! Okay, moving on...fascinating topic that I was not knowledgable about previously, and an interesting, novel-y writing style. I loved all the gossipy stuff about the parties and the love affairs, and all the lovely descriptions of gowns and mansions and various intrigues. And while a lot of the political/diplomatic information was interesting, I did get a little bogged down when this got extremely detailed; I'm simpl ...more
Rodney Harvill
Dec 10, 2015 Rodney Harvill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
After Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of the Nations and exiled to Elba, the European elite converged on Vienna to restore the pre-Napoleonic geopolitical power structure and to pick winners and losers in this effort. As it turned out, this was more of a giant party than anything else, and most of the decisions were made in back-room deals rather than open negotiations. When I had read Margaret Macmillan's book Paris 1919, I had noticed an incident in which a Romanian countess, during a chat ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Denise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis: "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" via David Fromkin, author of Europe’s Last Summer

Vienna, 1814 is a wonderuflly evocative and brilliantly researched account of one of the most audacious and extravagant peace conference in modern European history. With Napoleon Bonaparte presumably defeated (and exiled to Elba), heads of some 216 states gathered in Vienna to create
Scott Martin
Oct 05, 2014 Scott Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Audiobook). For a work discussing a key geo-political event (how the Congress of Vienna played a role in setting the foundation for a post-Napoleon Europe), it read an awful lot like a high-school drama. The big men on campus (the Russian Czar, the French and Austrian Foreign ministers, etc) were all trying to show they were the biggest and baddest men in the school, the key women trying to rule the social roost. Romance and recreation dominating the work environment, personal hatred and love a ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, long-18thc, war, 2014
Napoleon abdicated from the French throne in 1814, but his abdication didn't solve the problems created by the previous quarter-century of warfare and destruction and looting. Almost every political structure that Europe had built up was damaged or transformed, and there were an awful lot of grudges to be settled and damage to be repaired. But how to do it? The Vienna Congress set out to figure it all out, to put Europe back together again. The initial plan was to work in Vienna for a few weeks. ...more
May 12, 2014 M.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
David King's narrative on the Congress of Vienna following the (first) defeat of Napoleon is enjoyable and very much accessible to someone with only a casual interest in the period, but may lack something in addressing its greater ramifications.

The writing does a good job of conveying the event that was designed to divvy up and reorder Europe under the guidance of the winning powers following more than a decade under the shadow of l'Empereur. More a gossipy, never-ending party than a negotiatio
Bill Wallace
Apr 18, 2015 Bill Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning bit of history told like a good novel. Absolutely gripping from the first page and only flagging a little for me in the two-chapter oft told account of the Battle of Waterloo. For the Congress itself, the weave of diplomatic history with the depictions of celebratory extravagance and romantic intrigue make the book more than just a series of dry facts but a panorama of the circumstances that defined 19th Century Europe. Apart from the extravagant balls, Beethoven concerts, and a sleig ...more
This book has been criticized by some as too focused on the romantic intruigues surrounding the Congress (which after all the author makes clear in the subtitle), so I almost avoided it. While it is true that the book is much stronger on "human interest" than on hardcore geopolitical information, it did not descend into lurid or lascivious details. I found it an excellent overview of a period of history which is pretty hard to get a handle on from the current time/space distance. It helped make ...more
El Aguila
Feb 14, 2016 El Aguila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well written book, although a bit long. When it focused on political and military history, and the biographies of the major players such as Napoleon, Duke Wellington, Tsar Nicholas I and Wenzel von Metternich, it was at its best. This book was truly a global history of the Vienna Conference and Napoleon's impact on early 19th century Europe. I was very surprised to learn what a chaotic affair the Vienna Congress was while hammering out the next 100 years of European diplomacy. It ...more
David Kamioner
Oct 10, 2009 David Kamioner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
okay, it's a trend. the prequel to Versailles. really good stuff.
Jan 04, 2016 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sex, drugs and classical music in post-Napoleon Europe, all during a contentious peace conference. History buffs will love this book and salivate over the sensuous characters who redrew the map of Europe during a 9 month-long conference while carrying on affairs, partying all night long at extravagant balls, and generally leaching off the King of Austria who spared no expense to keep the party going. Everyone who was anyone was in attendance including one of the recently deceased Catherine the G ...more
May 31, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It isn't exactly historical fiction and it isn't exactly history - it something in between. He creates dialog between people but he knew that they had the conversation at that time and place. He quotes from diaries and reports from that period too.

I happen to love Vienna so it was great to "visit" it in this book. I kept thinking I want to go see that place or this place when I read about events occurring there. The people who attended the Congress were also very inte
Oct 15, 2008 Erik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long story short: people are people, no matter the time or place. Vienna 1814, an ultimate argument for the aforementioned thesis, captures this point effectively in retelling the story of the greatest party and slowest peace negotiation that graced nineteenth century Europe. It had everything - drunks, old guys that tell their wars stories to anyone who will listen, societal bigwigs, international intrigues and, of course, divas. While Paris Hilton wasn't there, she'd probably surmise the level ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte has been defeated and exiled to the island of Elba, and the representatives of the victorious European states gathered in Vienna to decide how to construct the peace. There are important questions to be decided: how should France be treated/punished, how should the liberated territories be divided, how should states be compensated for their losses? But in the background of the peace conference, Vienna is a vitual Vanity Fair as kings, queens, diplomats, and socialit ...more
Oct 23, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book. It probably would have been a better read for European History as opposed to Military History as it is much more about the various negotiations and hagglings after the bulk of the Napoleonic Wars had been fought. The book does do a very good job of detailing the major issues of Vienna, the fates of Poland, Saxony, and the Kingdom of Naples, as well as lesser issues, the struggle to end slavery, the struggle to get rights for Jews, and the struggle to protect publish ...more
Apr 27, 2008 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts very slow, with the admittedly required set-up of the characters. Metternich, Tallyrand, and the other key figures at the Congress of Vienna are placed in their historical context, and the reader gets a primer on each of their backgrounds and what makes each one tic. Next comes a section which makes a reader feel like he is reading Us Weekly, rather than a historical work, with details of sordid affairs, and other gossip that is seemingly unworthy of a serious look at one of the ...more
Aug 22, 2008 lisa_emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: viennaphiles, historical-waltzers
I read a study somewhere, perhaps long ago, that men tended to read history and women tended to read fiction. Well, Vienna, 1814 should appeal to both type of readers- it presents history with a dramtic flair. In the first chapter, King opens the world stage by parading the pivotal world leaders who will determine Europe's boundaries and power alliances after Napolean's attempt of a total takeover. Heads of state, royalty and side players all convene in Vienna in 1814 while Napolean schemed and ...more
May 29, 2009 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual and lively account of the 1814 Congress of Vienna that focuses as much on the social life as on the politics. The point is that the European and aristocratic rulers appeared to be far more interested in balls, sleigh rides and mock medieval tournaments than in rebuilding Europe after Napoleon had been banished to Elba. The major emphasis is on Tallyrand and Metternich, who come across as full personalities, but also follows more minor participants. I think this is a good approach that pr ...more
Patrick Ross
Sep 02, 2013 Patrick Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The Congress of Vienna dragged on and on, and at times this book drags as well. But for the most part it moves at a good clip, and has something for lovers of history as well as those who love zany characters doing outrageous things. Because the fact is that the individuals who had climbed to the top of the diplomatic rungs at the end of Napoleon's first run were over-the-top and, naturally, held an over-the-top congress to redraw the map of Europe. The process of that map redrawing is fascinati ...more
May 26, 2015 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.49 stars. The personal lives of the big players at Vienna 1814 mattered - the political decisions of these people, while of course significantly constrained by external factors, could and were modulated by their moods, social lives etc. King does a nice job of describing these elements, but about midway through the book, the number of pomegranates or Pomeranians or whatever on the menu at the ball at Countess Drechenstein's palace at 379 Einsplatz Ave. began to wear on me. The narrative picks ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
King brings to life all of the personalities and foibles of the men (and occasional woman) who brokered the peace after Napoleon's European conquest and ill-fated attempt to emperorize himself a second time. I feel much more informed about a period in Europe's history about which I knew embarrassingly little. Castlereagh is the ultimate tragic figure in this human drama and his ignoble end was a real downer, but humans are like that, I suppose.
Jul 24, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can look past the tediously tabloidish chatter about the romping love lives of the participants, this is an interesting and sprightly history of a crucial moment in the history of Europe. In a transparent effort to add pizzazz to a topic not known for great sales potential, the books is stuffed with sexual nuggets big and small, rendered with a gleeful tattletale flavor that does serious damage to quality of this book. This is a shame, because the book is otherwise well-written, fascinati ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tallyrand, Tsar Alexander, Metternich, Wellington, Napolean, and all their various friends and lovers play a role in forming a new Europe, as well as providing a fascinating view of the end of early modern Imperial life. While gathered in post - Napoleanic Vienna to try to restore Europe to a pre-1793 life, the Allied leaders instead recreate Europe, and ensure a century of turbulence. While creating the first ever peacetime alliance, they set in motion the rise of Prussia, and the remarkable al ...more
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  • Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
  • Talleyrand
  • The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815
  • The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It
  • The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy
  • Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814
  • Napoleon's Wars: An International History, 1803-1815
  • The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871
  • 1848: Year of Revolution
  • Frederick the Great
  • A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889
  • Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536
  • The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-1871
  • The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes
  • Waterloo: June 18, 1815: The Battle For Modern Europe
  • The Vertigo Years: Europe 1900-1914
  • Defeat: Napoleon's Russian Campaign
  • The Red Prince
David King is the author of "Finding Atlantis", "Vienna 1814", and, most recently, "Death in the City of Light".
A Fulbright Scholar with a master's degree from Cambridge University, King taught European history at the University of Kentucky before becoming a full-time writer.
More about David King...

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