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The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the Worldby Greg King
Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on rare primary sources and new interviews with Hapsburg descendants, King and Woolmans explode the myths and tell the true story behind the assassination that sparked World War I
When summer 1914 opened, Europe was dominated by three great Empires: Austria Hungary, Germany, and Russia. By the end of World War I, all three monarchies had disappeared from the face of the earth. One event precipitated the conflict, and at its heart was a tragic love story. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was heir to an empire with millions of subjects, many of whom resented the central government. When he chose to marry for love against the wishes of the Emperor and the Court, he and his wife were marked for destruction by reactionaries who feared their modernizing influence. King and Woolmans prove that they were deliberately sent to Sarajevo, a city seething with revolutionary violence, in the hope they would be killed.
Set against a backdrop of glittering privilege and an Imperial Court consumed with hatred, The Assassination of the Archduke paints a portrait of a couple who were deeply in love, devoted to their children, and determined to bring Austria-Hungary into the modern world. Instead, they were murdered in cold blood, their empire destroyed and their children doomed to go from magnificent castles to the horrors of concentration camps under the Nazis. Using a documentary technique similar to books about another famous assassination in Dallas fifty years later, this book lays bare the lethal circumstances surrounding that fateful Sunday morning in 1914 and the hidden forces that may have sent them to their deaths.
"For all the horror that his assassination caused, Archduke Franz Ferdinand the man remains under-recognized. Made heir after his cousin committed suicide and his father declined the throne, Ferdinand was not the Emperor Franz Josef's favorite. Making things worse, Ferdinand fell in love with Sophie Chotek, who despite aristocratic ancestry was considered unfit for marriage. They did marry, but it was a hollow victory: Sophie became a morganatic spouse, excluded from the privileges of Austro-Hungarian royal society. Rather than the romantic storyline, which feels forced (Princess Isabella of CroÃ¿ 'plays the role of wicked stepmother'), it is the descriptions of royal society where the account is strongest. The inane and petty rules and procedures of a long dead monarchial society led to the consistent humiliation of Franz and Sophie in royal court and also likely contributed to their demise. The Emperor and royal officials insisted that Ferdinand visit Sarajevo in 1914, despite the volatile political climate and Ferdinand's multiple attempts to cancel the trip. King and Woolman craft a sophisticated portrait of a man who cared deeply for his family, and was destroyed not just by an assassin's bullet, but by a decrepit society that could not tolerate his independent streak. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Drawing on unpublished letters and rare primary sources, King and Woolmans tell the true story behind the tragic romance and brutal assassination that sparked World War I
In the summer of 1914, three great empires dominated Europe: Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. Four years later all had vanished in the chaos of World War I. One event precipitated the conflict, and at its hear was a tragic love story. When Austrian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand married for love against the wishes of the emperor, he and his wife Sophie were humiliated and shunned, yet they remained devoted to each other and to their children. The two bullets fired in Sarajevo not only ended their love story, but also led to war and a century of conflict.
Set against a backdrop of glittering privilege, The Assassination of the Archduke combines royal history, touching romance, and political murder in a moving portrait of the end of an era. One hundred years after the event, it offers the startling truth behind the Sarajevo assassinations, including Serbian complicity and examines rumors of conspiracy and official negligence. Events in Sarajevo also doomed the couples children to lives of loss, exile, and the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, their plight echoing the horrors unleashed by their parents deaths. Challenging a century of myth, The Assassination of the Archduke resonates as a very human story of love destroyed by murder, revolution, and war.
About the Author
GREG KING is the author of eleven previously published books, including the UK bestseller The Duchess of Windsor, and the internationally acclaimed The Fate of the Romanovs, The Court of the Last Tsar, and the forthcoming Resurrection of the Romanovs.
A BBC manager in London, SUE WOOLMANS is a royal historian and writer. She recently edited the memoirs of Tsar Nicholas IIs sister, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, entitled Twenty-Five Chapters of My Life with Paul Kulikovsky.
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