ARTICLE ALERT: Sked, Rethinking the History of the Habsburg Empire: Judson’s New History, Review in Canadian Journal of History

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Pieter M. Judson, The Habsburg Empire: A New History. Cambridge MA and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016. xiii, 567 pp. $35.00 US (cloth), $21.95 US (paper), ISBN 9780674986763

Reviewed by: Alan Sked (London School of Economics)

Excerpt: Professor Judson is a noted scholar of the Habsburg Empire whose works are often cited by fellow historians. He has now produced a new history of the empire, which covers the period from Maria Theresa till the end of World War I. I wish I could say that I had learned a lot of new things from it but, alas, his book turns out to be an idiosyncratic, discursive, extended essay that examines social and economic as well as constitutional matters in a very patchy kind of way to the almost total exclusion of foreign policy, military history, and even major political developments. As a result it is not only Hamlet without the Prince but without Gertrude, Ophelia, Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Sometimes events occur without explanation (World War I, for example) while others are totally omitted (Metternich's supposed plans for the federalization of the empire or Taaffe's Iron Ring to give only two examples, both of which actually relate to Judson's favourite theme of the management of nationalism within the Empire). Again, some themes—Austro-Slavism in 1848 for example—are mentioned but are never heard of again.

If Judson's book is a rather empty one it is none the less highly pretentious, since he claims to speak on behalf of a generation of scholars whose work on Central Europe is so brilliant that it constitutes a beacon of enlightenment to other scholars of modern Europe whose achievements no longer measure up. 

For the entire review see Sked, Alan. "Rethinking the History of the Habsburg Empire: Judson's New History." Canadian Journal of History, vol. 54 no. 1, 2019, p. 166-174. Project MUSE