Books in Brief

The Habsburg Empire: A New History, by Pieter M. Judson (Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard; 592 pp., $35.00).  This book continues the arguments historians have made over the past three decades that challenge the long-received and -accepted view of the Habsburg Empire as an anachronism among European states in the 19th century.  As Judson says, historians had previously presented the history of Western and Eastern Europe as that of “‘civic nationhood’ versus ‘ethnic nationhood,’ ‘developed’ versus ‘backward,’ ‘democratic’ versus ‘authoritarian,’ ‘ethnic homogeneity’ versus ‘ethnic mosaic.’”  But these oppositions, he argues, are not justified by the study of the local societies that made up the Habsburg Empire.  Rather, “by the last third of the nineteenth century the empire of the Habsburgs increasingly asserted its unique ability to create a productive unity out of the cultural diversity of its peoples.”  Within the empire, national and imperial concepts and sentiments took form in a structured relationship, so that by 1900 imperialists were simultaneously nationalists, while nationalists sought to achieve their ambitions within the legal context of the empire.  Thus,

The mere existence of linguistic, religious, and regional differences...

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