Probably, Perhaps

Dan Jacobson

  • The Red Prince: The Fall of a Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Europe by Timothy Snyder
    Bodley Head, 344 pp, £20.00, June 2008, ISBN 978 0 224 08152 8

Readers with a taste for misfortune and ineffectiveness are more likely than others to enjoy this extended study of Wilhelm von Habsburg, the eponymous ‘Red Prince’. To begin with, Habsburg though he undoubtedly was, and an archduke to boot, Wilhelm hardly cut much of a figure among those closest to the throne occupied by Karl, the wartime successor to the aged Franz Josef and the last of the emperors to rule over Austria. Nor was Wilhelm much of a ‘red’, though the blurb-writers for the book do their best to turn him into something of a martyr to both the anti-Nazi and the anti-Communist cause. In fact he seems to have been ready to flirt with almost any group, the Communists aside, that he hoped might put him in a post appropriate to his rank.

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