From the palaces of the Habsburg Empire to the torture chambers of Stalin's Soviet Union, the extraordinary story of a life suspended between the collapse of the imperial order and the violent emergence of modern Europe.
Wilhelm Von Habsburg wore the uniform of the Austrian officer, the court regalia of a Habsburg archduke, the simple suit of a Parisian exile, the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and, every so often, a dress. He could handle a saber, a pistol, a rudder, or a golf club; he handled women by necessity and men for pleasure. He spoke the Italian of his archduchess mother, the German of his archduke father, the English of his British royal friends, the Polish of the country his father wished to rule, and the Ukrainian of the land Wilhelm wished to rule himself.
In this exhilarating narrative history, prize-winning historian Timothy D. Snyder offers an indelible portrait of an aristocrat whose life personifies the wrenching upheavals of the first half of the 20th century, as the rule of empire gave way to the new politics of nationalism. Coming of age during the First World War, Wilhelm repudiated his family to fight alongside Ukrainian peasants in hopes that he would become their king. When this dream collapsed, he became, by turns, an ally of German imperialists, a notorious French lover, an angry Austrian monarchist, a calm opponent of Hitler, and a British spy against Stalin.
Played out in Europe's glittering capitals and bloody battlefields, in extravagant ski resorts and dank prison cells, The Red Prince captures an extraordinary moment in the history of Europe, in which the old order of the past was giving way to an undefined future - and in which everything, including identity itself, seemed up for grabs.
©2008 Timothy Snyder; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.