History remembers Wellington's defeat of Napoleon, but has forgotten the role of Field Marshal Radetzky in the battles which led to Napoleon's abdication and first exile in 1814. As Chief of Staff to the allied coalition of 1813-14, Radetzky determined the shape of the most decisive campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars by creating the strategy that defeated the Corsican in Germany and then France. Neither Russia nor Prussia had been able to overcome Napoleon in battle and it took the brilliant diplomacy of Metternich and the military genius of Radetzky to ensure victory over the Emperor. In short, the Austrian contribution decisively tipped the balance against Napoleon - a fact which has always been overlooked by historians. It was Radetzky, too, at the age of eighty-two, who defeated the Italians in 1848 and 1849 and thus saved Europe once again from the prospect of international war and revolution. The wars Radetzky fought - and won - throughout his extensive military career were of the greatest possible significance in European history, yet today, he is almost forgotten - remembered only in the music of the Radetzky March, dedicated to him by Johann Strauss the elder.
In this, the first biography of Radetzky to be published in English, Alan Sked paints a vivid picture of an exceptional, yet neglected commander of genius in a book which will be fascinating reading for enthusiasts of military and modern European history.
Chapter One: Early Career
Chapter Two: Saving Austria and Europe
Chapter Three: Educator of Armies
Chapter Four: Prelude to Revolution
Chapter Five: Saving Austria and Europe Again
Chapter Six: Ruling Italy
Alan Sked is Reader in International History at the London School of Economics, where he has taught all his professional life. His books on Habsburg history include The Survival of the Habsburg Empire: Radetzky, the Imperial Army and the Class War 1848; The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire 1815–1918, and Metternich and Austria: An Evaluation.
Brilliantly brings back to life the man who helped destroy Napoleon and preserved the Hapsburg Empire. An incisive study of a neglected military genius.
– John Charmley, Professor of Modern History, University of East Anglia
Reflecting the author’s own extensive researches in all the relevant European archives and his comprehensive knowledge of the secondary literature, this biography of Radetzky – the first of its kind in English – has all the qualities that will appeal to both students of nineteenth-century Europe and the general reader, being, while authoritative, both well paced and of a manageable length. In Alan Sked's view, Radetzky the soldier, was in fact a strategist who twice played the key role in "saving Austria and Europe" (from Napoleon in 1813 and from the Revolution in 1848); he has also been underestimated as a military reformer and statesman and patronisingly disparaged as a man. The closing chapter, a detailed account of Radetzky’s failure in the 1850s to manage Austria’s increasingly problematical Italian inheritance is perhaps an unexpected bonus for students of the Risorgimento, here refreshingly illuminated "from the other side".
– F.R. Bridge, Emeritus Professor of Diplomatic History, University of Leeds
Alan Sked provides a brief introduction to the often neglected figure of Radetzky, and esential context to this biography. Read it now...
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 07 Dec 2010
Number of Pages: 296
Illustrations: 16 bw plates