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Maximilian and Juarez recounts one of the great tragicomedies of the nineteenth century, the attempt by Napoleon III to establish Archduke Maximilian of Austria as the Emperor of Mexico. The celebrated author Jasper Ridley provides a colourful narrative of this ill-starred undertaking that pitted liberals against conservatives and the New World against the Old, ending with the execution of Maximilian, the insanity of his wife Charlotte, and the emergence of the United States as a world power. This strange episode is at once a central part of American history and a tragic tale of human ambition and cultural misunderstanding.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781842121504
ISBN-10: 1842121502
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 235mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson History
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 15-Feb-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Impressively researched but flatfooted history of Mexico's mid-19th-century struggles for independence, as personified by the main antagonists, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and the Zapotec Indian Benito Juarez. Once again, Ridley (Elizabeth I, 1987, etc.), displays near-obsessive fact-gathering abilities but fails to shape his material into an involving narrative. Ridley's title characters were so antithetical they might have been fictional creations: Maximilian - tall, blond, and self-deluding; Juarez - short, swarthy, pragmatic. The religious-conservative and secular-liberal elements of Mexican society had long been in conflict, and, Ridley contends, Maximilian and Juarez came to represent this conflict in their persons and their attitudes. Driven from power in the 1850's by a liberal government, the ousted conservatives went looking for a European power that could restore their hegemony. Napoleon III, eager for glory, became interested; convincing Maximilian to accept the conservatives' offer to be named emperor, Napoleon sent French troops to Latin America, purportedly to protect France's nationals but in reality to enforce Maximilian's rule. But liberals, despite continual intraparty rivalry, eventually managed to defeat the foreign armies and to topple - and execute - Maximilian. Brimming with fascinating historical figures - in addition to the principals, there are Lincoln, Grant, Francis Joseph of Austria, etc. - but Ridley sticks mostly to the facts, probing neither motivation nor character, and so fails to vivify his sprawling action and its players. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Jasper Ridley

Jasper Ridley gave up his practice at the bar to become one of the leading historical biographers of England, and his most recent book, Lord Palmerston, was awarded the James Tait Black Prize. He has twice stood for Parliament, and his personal experience of political affairs has given him added insight into the career of the most successful of Nineteenth-century revolutionaries. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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