Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Crossroads of Civilization: A History of Vienna (Angus Robertson)

Vienna has held unique importance in European and international affairs for centuries. From rising to prominence with the Habsburg Dynasty, to hosting an international peace conference in the wake of Napoleon’s defeat in 1814-1815, to its present as a home to promote diplomacy and international relations, Vienna is the crossroads of not only Europe but also the world. Angus Robertson, a Scottish politician whose prior media career included a stint reporting on news from Vienna, documents the rich history of Vienna in Crossroads of Civilization: A History of Vienna.

Many of us know that great works of art and music were created in Vienna and many great historical events occurred within the Austrian capital. Robertson’s book documents much of the Habsburg dynasty and its contribution to Europe and prominence in European affairs during the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries. He also devotes much of the book to the chaos after the end of Habsburg rule in 1918, the fascism that soon took over, and Nazi occupation during World War II. After the war, Vienna took on its current role as a more neutral international city, hosting several global agencies and acting as a major scene of espionage between Western Europe and the Communist Bloc during the Cold War.

Despite no longer being an imperial capital, Vienna’s adaptability as a cosmopolitan city has served it well in becoming the modern crossroads of political and scientific diplomacy. Crossroads of Civilization effectively captures the important role Vienna played and will continue to play in culture and politics throughout Europe and beyond.