"[T]old with brio and narrative punch. This is a page-turning history of imperial hubris and nemesis, deceit and delusion, love and betrayal on a grand scale, written in an easy, lucid style.” —Sunday Times
“A superbly entertaining and well-researched account that sets a new standard for histories of the doomed escapade.” —Financial Times
“Majestic . . . Shawcross’s vivid details turn the emperor into a character as ornate as the silk tapestries he imported.” —Spectator
“This is by far the best book we have on Maximilian and Carlotta’s ill-fated rule in Mexico.” —Alice L. Baumgartner, author of South to Freedom
This is history's judgement on the events surrounding the ill-fated reign of Maximilian of Mexico, the young Austrian archduke who in 1864 crossed the Atlantic to assume a faraway throne.
He had been convinced to do so by a duplicitous Napoleon III. Keen to spread his own interests abroad, the French emperor promised Maximilian a hero's welcome, which he would ensure with his own mighty military support. Instead, Maximilian walked into a bloody guerrilla war - and with a headful of impractical ideals and a penchant for pomp and butterflies, the so-called new emperor was singularly unequipped for the task.
The ensuing saga would feature the great world leaders of the day, popes, bandits and queens; intrigue, conspiracy and cut-throat statecraft, as Mexico became the pivotal battleground in the global balance of power, between Old Europe and the burgeoning force of the New World: American imperialism.
The Last Emperor of Mexico is the vivid history of this barely known, barely believable episode - a bloody tragedy of operatic proportions, and a vital debacle, the effects of which would be felt into the twentieth century and beyond.