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The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  345 ratings  ·  54 reviews
From the palaces of the Habsburg Empire to the torture chambers of StalinOCOs Soviet Union, the extraordinary story of a life suspended between the collapse of the imperial order and the violent emergence of modern Europe"
ebook, 353 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published 2008)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  345 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”When Wilhelm was arrested in August 1947, his Soviet guards removed an Omega watch from his wrist. This was the brand later worn by James Bond on the silver screen. The fictional Bond family even took a Habsburg motto for its own: ‘The World is Not Enough.’ By the time this was revealed by Bond’s creator Ian Fleming in 1963, only a very few Europeans would have remembered its Habsburg origins. By the time James Bond wore an Omega Seamaster watch in Goldeneye in 1995, it is fair to guess that no ...more
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent overview of the fading of the Hapsburg Monarchy and 20th Century history of the Ukraine and Poland. For all I have read on causes and consequences of WWI and II, this short book, covering one small corner of history helped me frame not so much what happened, but how it happened.

Through the lives of this minor branch of the Hapsburg family we learn how the Ukraine developed its national identity and, despite the dedication of Wilhelm Hapsburg (aka Vasyl Vyshyvanyi) and other
Данило Судин
Цікава, але двозначна праця Тімоті Снайдера. Перша, яку переклали українською мовою, та найбільш українська зі всіх, які я читав. По-перше, в ній автор найбільш прихильно ставиться до українців (в Перетворення націй: Польща, Україна, Литва, Білорусь 1569-1999 та Криваві землі: Європа поміж Гітлером та Сталіним він часто описує події української історії більш упереджено, ніж пасувало б сучасному історикові), хоча і тут не бракує химерних помилок. Наприклад, батьки Зиґмунда Фройда, згідно з Т.Снай ...more
A fascinating life of a paradoxical and almost-pivotal figure told with a historian's eye for the bigger picture

My gripes with this book come with its penultimate chapter and they don't detract from Snyder's masterful telling.

(view spoiler)
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Archduke Wilhem of Austria, son of Karl Stephan and Maria Theresia of Tuscany, came of age just before WWI, when his father was scheming to embrace a Polish identity and have his branch of the family become pre-eminent, if not independent as rulers of Poland, going so far as to marry his daughters to Lithuanian-Polish nobles. Independent, democratic Poland absolutely refused to consider this project after 1920, and Wilhelm personally switched his interest to the Ukraine, where he had served in t ...more
Harriet Steel
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
The Red Prince has taken me longer than I anticipated, not because I haven’t enjoyed it, quite the reverse, but because I’ve been busy with the final stages and launch of my new novel, City of Dreams (on a Goodreads Giveaway until 30th May if anyone is interested in entering).

Going back to The Red Prince, however, it’s an excellent book that tells the story of Wilhelm von Habsburg who was born in 1895 at a time when the power of the Habsburg dynasty was showing signs of strain. Like many of his
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1580, the House of Habsburg reigned in a good third of Europe: Spain, Portugal, the Low Countries, the southern half of Italy, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and smaller principalities; the Habsburgs were also emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. By 1914, their realm had shrunk in some places and expanded in others, comprising a huge country in Central and Eastern Europe, consisting of many peoples and tongues, as reflected in the almost-fractal complexity of its coat of arms. Josef Haydn's ...more
Oct 04, 2016 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Wanda by: Laura
4 OCT 2016 - spied on Laura's feed. Sounds super!
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This biography of a minor Habsburg makes the political machinations in "Game of Thrones" look more like "Game of Candyland."

I picked this book up for 2 reasons:

1) I wanted to learn more about the Hapsburgs
2) This particular Hapsburg struggled his whole adult life to create a free Ukraine in order to be its king.

Wilhelm von Habsburg, a relative of the famous Archduke Ferdinand, was born at the height of his family's imperial power, which gradually disintegrated during the rise of national sovere
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Red Prince” offers a fascinating window into the life of a one-time Habsburg archduke, while simultaneously telling the story of Central and Eastern Europe from the outbreak of the First World War to the ¬consolidation of Communist power in 1949. Archduke Wilhelm’s story is a rather interesting study of the fluidity/rigidity of European ethnic identity in the short 20th century – a Habsburg by birth, a Pole by upraising, a Ukrainian by choice, a German by Nazi racial standards, and an Austr ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kakanien, sachbuch
Hut ab vor Timothy Snyder für dieses Werk. Hier wird Geschichte spannend und lebendig wie in einem James Bond Film. Fein granuliert breitet der Autor das Leben des Erzherzog Wilhelm aus. Es ist faszinierend was sich z.B. alleine im Sommer 1918 alles zugetragen, wer wen alles getroffen hat und wie die Mitteleuropäische Geschichte andere Bahnen hätte nehmen können.

Vergleicht man wie unsere Postmoderne Gesellschaft in ihrer grauen Angestelltensicherheit (bzw. -unsicherheit) vor sich hin lebt mit de
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un retrato fascinante de un personaje olvidado por la historia y de una época en la que el mundo vivió un sinfín de cambios tanto políticos como sociales y en los que el protagonista se fue deslizando y adaptando poco a poco para sobrevivir en una desgarrada Europa cada vez mas violenta.
Guillermo de Habsburgo ayudó a crear la identidad nacional ucraniana en una época en que Ucrania no existía como país sino que estaba repartida entre varios imperios, sus habitantes no tenía siquiera una noción d
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If, like me, you never really "got" what the first world war was about, and felt fuzzy about the whole Holy Roman Empire thing, and that bit about Poland disappearing for a few years sounds somewhat familiar, then this book is an interesting way to clear some of that up. It's a biography of one of the last archdukes of the Hapsburg dynasty, a guy who spoke several languages but had no nationality, who rebelled against his father by trying to become king of the Ukraine (he almost did it), and who ...more
Matt Poland
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the finest books I've read. Although it is nearly perfectly written, with an historian's skill channeling the fluxes of time into a sense of their proportion and unexpected continuity, frequent readers of biography might say that Wilhelm von Habsburg never takes his proper place at the center of this story, as, indeed, he never did in the story he fashioned for himself. But this points at one of the accomplishments of this book: to show how enmeshed its subject is in his time, how ...more
Ruud Meij
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ukraine, europe
Timothy Snyder wrote a fascinating and briljant book on European history. Using the archduke Wilhelm von Habsburg Snyder writes something like an archeology of the present. Snyder sketches a vivid sympathetic picture of the choices which the Habsburgs as leading political elite had to make in the making of modern Europe as a Europe of nations, dismantling the Europe of empire. In the end it puts Ukraine at the center of the European stage, and makes fhe point of the Euroepean Union as the succes ...more
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biographical
L'histoire mouvementée d'une personne et d'un pays qui m'a permis d'élucider quelques mystères familiales - notamment pourquoi est-ce que mon grand oncle à été envoyé dans les camps de goulag 2 fois de suite, quels étaient les habitants d'origine de l'empire des Habsbourgs et comment les membres de ma famille ont pu se déplacer librement dans une Europe des empires, qui a toujours été (assez faussement) décrite comme non-démocratique, remplie des polices secrètes et dotée d'une atmosphère intell ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Red Prince is a book I read a blurb about somewhere and thought it sounded interesting and educational so I put it in my library queue. The book jacket also mentions that Archduke Wilhelm occasionally liked to wear dresses which piqued my interest even more. Wilhelm was a nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph, cousin of Franz Ferdinand (the man, not the band) and he himself set forth from an early age with a plan to become ruler of a Ukrainian state.

See the full review here: http://mrssmithreads.tu
Kimberly Taylor
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think most of us know the name of Archduke Ferdinand in conjunction with his assassination, but this book goes more in depth regarding the entire family in this period of European history and how their once glorious empire crumbled. The only thing I did not care for especially was the writing style. The author seems to go on and on about a single point for pages when one paragraph would suffice. (IMHO)
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the lesser-known facets of the Massive World War (my term for the period between 1914 and 1948), this compact biography of one of the last archdukes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire illuminates the muddy history of the eastern European transition from 19th Century to modern states-hood. One among many dreams that never came to fruition as expected by people who thought they had the momentum of history on their side.
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read by Snyder and I've become a fan. He does a very nice job of weaving detail and analysis into an entertaining and informative read. His sheer delight in Wilhelm's character was contagious. My question: did Gary Trudeau (also an Eli) read this and did it inspire his Red Rascal character in Doonesbury?
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the creation of the modern day Ukraine. The author has used the biography of a Habsburg archduke to tell the tale, much in the manner that Neil Sheehan used the life of John Paul Vann in A Bright Shining Lie to tell the story of America's involvement in Viet Nam. As late as 1918, it turns out, "Ukraine" was little more than a Russian backwater, though a highly productive one agriculturally. The Russian revolution was the direct result of German foreign policy. In the spring ...more
Jan Szczerbiuk
Concerning the antics of Wilhelm von Habsburg who decided to become Ukrainian, mainly to irritate his father (I grew my hair long, seemed to work), who had himself previously become Polish (anything but Austrian it seems). Wilhelm was so fond of being Ukrainian that he decided that he wanted to be their king. Bad timing as this was at a time when people were deciding that they might like a say in things like that. The suggestion is that having minor Habsburgs as the titular heads (all very const ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Читати Снайдера завжди суцільне задоволення, а в поєднанні з дуже неординарною історією безпосереднього зв'язку Габсбургів з Україною в бурхливі часи першої половини 20 століття, і яка мабуть абсолютна невідома для більшості, (як і мені до читання цієї книги) - роблять цю книгу справді a very good read.

Щоправда виникає враження, що у підготовці україномовного видання редактор недопрацював
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helder verhaal over een nogal gecompliceerd stukje geschiedenis. Wat mij op den duur wel wat tegen begon te staan was de schrijfstijl. Veel "wat als" en alles constant naar het grotere geheel vertalen. Maar misschien maakt dit het wel beter te begrijpen.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has taken me forever to get to this book. It is Snyder at his best. He uses the case of the largely forgotten Prince William of Habsburg to engage readers with a number of issues, the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, nationalism, the dislocation brought about by WWI, and the peculiar effects it had on a family for whom a good portion of the blame for that war can be placed, even if Prince William was far removed from the decision to avenge the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife ...more
Kyla Squires
This was an immensely enjoyable read about Wilhelm, aka Vasyl Vyshyvanyi, a random Habsburg that I knew nothing about.

Judging by the notes, this is pretty extensively researched, and the style of writing was so engaging that my husband was subjected to constant excerpts as I frequently felt the need to read whole paragraphs aloud. I enjoyed the presentation of the chapters as a box of crayons, and am eager to read the memoirs of the British nanny quoted in this book, as well as other books by T
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable history that reads like a page-turning historical novel. Snyder tracks the amazing life the life of the relatively unknown Archduke Wilhelm von Habsburg, youngest son of Archduke Stefan and great-great-grandson of Emperor Leopold II. And although he never achieved his dynastic ambitions of giving a new lease on life to the ancien regime, he spent most of his adult life working to arouse nationalism and create a unified and independent Ukraine.
I never want to see the insides of this book again, it was such a pain to get through. So much unnecessary information, such dry story-telling. The summary at the back of the book made this book sound exciting, colourful and everything it was not.
It's a really pretty hardcover with a nice name though, so I'll keep it in my shelf.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a child if the allies it is inviting to learn the historical references of 20th Century Europe from those who struggled from within the Axis. Monarchy is a foreign concept that is interesting to learn.
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Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.

His most recent book is Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, p
“All citizens do have a measure of control, at least in democracies where their votes are counted, of how they belong to their nations. Perhaps they will have more confidence in unconventional choices if they see that each nation's founders were disobedient and unpredictable, men and women of imagination and ambition. The steel of every national monument was once molten.” 1 likes
“The nation faces forward. It is made and remade every day. If we believe that the nation resides in the orderly recitations of history given to us by our leaders, then our story is over” 0 likes
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