Final ACT

Gregor Dallas, Author, George Dallas, Author Henry Holt & Company $35 (560p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3184-3
This is a scholarly account of the watershed years, 1814-1815, in Europe when the diplomats and sovereigns of England, France, Prussia and Austria sought to ensure peace after the first fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. Dallas (At the Heart of a Tiger) traces in excruciating detail negotiations in London, Paris and Vienna among a cast of personalities that includes the first Tsar Alexander of Russia, French statesman Talleyrand, Britain's Duke of Wellington and Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh and Prince Metternich, the Austrian foreign minister. The main focus is on the Congress of Vienna, at which the allies ranged against France drew up a peace accord to end the Napoleonic wars. Dallas outlines the intrigues, philandering and diplomatic chitchat among those who spent the winter in the gay capital on the Danube. The goal of permanent peace was sought through a complex balance of power, redrawing of frontiers and alliances built on secret treaties. These efforts were temporarily upset by the return of Napoleon from exile in Elba. The scarcity of narrative action up to then is somewhat alleviated by the story of his drive to regain mastery of Europe, leading to the climactic Battle of Waterloo. Because the author does not put the events of this era in historical context, general readers will have find it difficult wading through this otherwise worthy study. Illustrations. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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