• For God and Kaiser

  • The Imperial Austrian Army, 1619-1918
  • By: Richard Bassett
  • Narrated by: Aaron Blain
  • Length: 28 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (87 ratings)

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For God and Kaiser

By: Richard Bassett
Narrated by: Aaron Blain
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Publisher's Summary

The definitive history of Austria’s multinational army and its immense role during three centuries of European military history.

Among the finest examples of deeply researched military history, Richard Bassett’s For God and Kaiser is a major account of the Habsburg army told for the first time in English. Bassett shows how the Imperial Austrian Army, time and again, was a decisive factor in the story of Europe, the balance of international power, and the defense of Christendom. Moreover it was the first pan-European army made up of different nationalities and faiths, counting among its soldiers not only Christians but also Muslims, and Jews.

Bassett tours some of the most important campaigns and battles in modern European military history, from the 17th century through World War I. He details technical and social developments that coincided with the army’s story and provides fascinating portraits of the great military leaders as well as noteworthy figures of lesser renown. Departing from conventional assessments of the Habsburg army as ineffective, outdated, and repeatedly inadequate, the author argues that it was a uniquely cohesive and formidable fighting force, in many respects one of the glories of the old Europe.

The book is published by Yale University Press.

©2015 Richard Bassett (P)2019 Redwood Audiobooks
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Ground-breaking history…few aspects of Austria's colourful history escape Bassett's eagle eye in a book that brilliantly fills a gaping hole in Europe's history.” (BBC History

“Superb new book.” (The National Interest)

What listeners say about For God and Kaiser

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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excellent insight

a typically ignored nation/dynasty this book gives a great overveiw and analysis of the true preformance of Austria in the early modern era

4 people found this helpful

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Learn to pronounce

The narrator should learn that the word "mischievous" is MISS-che-vuss, NOT miss-CHEE-VEE-uss. His mispronounced it three times so far (halfway through).

2 people found this helpful

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Thick and biased but excellent

I’m not a historian of this subject and most of knowledge of the content is from other sources with other focuses. I found his main theme, the union between Austrian Emperors and their Army, as very compelling. Often the author’s bias towards the Austro-Hungarians was so obvious as to not feel deceptive or dishonest, just the author’s clear love of the subject causes him to occasionally downplay disasters and note draws as great victories.
The reader was somewhat uninflected, but always upbeat and he crush about a million very difficult to pronounce German, Hungarian, Czech, and Croat names and places was stunning

1 person found this helpful

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Wow, that was stilted.

the author is such a heavy Austrophile that it it 9ozes out of the book.

1 person found this helpful

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Good book. Narration not the best.

This is a surprisingly good and thorough book. If you're interested in the 5 powers and pre-ww1 Europe this book will surprise you with its thoroughness. I tremendously enjoyed the content.

The narration is a little jarring, it sounded a lot like "small phrase"..."small phrase"..."small phrase" Almost like the pause button was getting pushed after every 3 words.

It was still a good read/listen

1 person found this helpful

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A Excellent book!

Personally, as a fellow student of history, military or not, I enjoy a lot have contact with a bit of eastern european history, normally bypassed in courses. Also was great to see a better picture of the often overlooked Austrian monarchy and military pre 1914

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  • J.
  • 01-03-22

Good soldiers, rotten generals

If Austria's track record on the battlefield is anything to go by, its citizens make bad soldiers. Richard Bassett however argues the Austrian military generally fielded fine soldiers. At times its cavalry and artillery were the best in Europe. It was poor general staffing that let down the side despite the occasional presence of outstanding field commanders and reforming ministers. The Austrian military often failed to exploit tactical victories to achieve the strategic destruction of opponents as Napoleon sought to do. Bassett stresses that this was because the Austrian military's primary role was not to win wars, but to insure the survival of the Hapsburg dynasty. Given the multiethnic makeup of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the state depended upon the military to defend it from internal threats. This inevitably led to conservative battle plans which sought to avoid the army's destruction rather than secure victory.

Good as the Austrian soldier might have been, Bassett's recount of Hapsburg campaigns is a linty of catastrophes. Defeats even come when competent generals are in command. Basset eludes to the absence of a competent Austrian military staff, but he does not explain why this was systemic and why after centuries of screw-ups the Empire did not address the problem.

Bassett does a good job of situating the Austrian military within the larger historical framework of the Thirty Years War, Napoleon and WWI. Much of the book is a description of troop movements that becomes bewildering to an audio listener. Have maps at hand. Bassett is at his weakest suggesting that the Germans might have colluded with Serbians in the assassination of Frans-Joseph in order to force Austria into a war to settle the Balkans.

The biggest let down of this audio book is Aaron Blain's narration. He lacks inflection and has the infuriating habit of leaving long pauses between sentences. This audiobook sounds like a string of bullet points. I almost quit this book, but slightly increasing the speed to reduce the pauses made it a tolerable listen. Still Blain mispronounces many words and there are numerous jarring sound splices where it is clear that overdubbing was used to correct flubs of names and places.

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Good story, bad narrator.

Great story. Narrator takes annoyingly long pauses after sentences though, otherwise it'd get five stars.

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An in-depth look at an often marginalized force

A great in-deep dive into the forces of the Habsburg Empire (later later the Austrian Empire, later the Austro-Hungarian empire) that sheds light on an army with a rich and storied history that is often simply used as a backdrop in most western histories as merely a means to advance the story of other nations. More often than not the armies of the Habsburgs are simply referenced in the histories as losing constantly to better opponents such as Napoleon, Frederick, and the armies of World War I, but if this is true then how did the Empire manage to stay together for as long as it did?

This book not only does a great job of showing that there's more to the armies of the Habsburg's then losing battles and backwards thinking. It is in fact an army at the head of many advancements in military technology and Innovative tactics. And is an force that has been at the forefront of many of the battles military historians still study today. The book also does a great job of showing that history is just as much of a force driven by individual personalities as it is driven by centrifugal forces around it.

As a word of caution though this book is not for the faint of heart. As this book is an analysis of the Armed Forces of the Habsburg's it will not go unduly out of its way to explain the political or economic history surrounding these events nor to the other nations it is involved with. Highly recommend knowing the history around this subject so you can have a full experience with this book.

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Good book with a lot of information

It took a while to get into the book and I really wish that it would have had a different reader for the book. This book also needs a PDF with maps and other documents.

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Profile Image for Jon lanģley
  • Jon lanģley
  • 12-25-19

Excellent historical account

Very well researched look at the moral issues of the Austrian army, from its inception until the end of WW1. I was overall very impressed , however, call it a matter of opinion, but the narrator would not have been my choice, though I did complete the book quite happily.