• The Last Emperor of Mexico

  • The Dramatic Story of the Habsburg Archduke Who Created a Kingdom in the New World
  • By: Edward Shawcross
  • Narrated by: Gustavo Rex
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (238 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The true operatic tragedy of Maximilian and Carlota, the European aristocrats who stumbled into power in Mexico - and faced bloody consequences.

In the 1860s, Napoleon III, intent on curbing the rise of American imperialism, persuaded a young Austrian archduke and a Belgian princess to leave Europe and become the emperor and empress of Mexico. They and their entourage arrived in a Mexico ruled by terror, where revolutionary fervor was barely suppressed by French troops. When the United States, now clear of its own Civil War, aided the rebels in pushing back Maximilian’s imperial soldiers, the French army withdrew, abandoning the young couple. The regime fell apart. Maximilian was executed by a firing squad and Carlota, secluded in a Belgian castle, descended into madness.

Assiduously researched and vividly told, The Last Emperor of Mexico is a dramatic story of European hubris, imperialist aspirations clashing with revolutionary fervor, and the Old World breaking from the New.

©2021 Basic Books (P)2021 Basic Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Mr. Shawcross, a British historian, creates a balanced and deeply human portrait of the emperor…[a] deeply researched narrative.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Crisply written and meticulously researched, Shawcross’s engaging book tells a lively story that will appeal to most history buffs.” (Library Journal)

“The story of Maximilian is one of the most compelling, absurd, cynical, and revealing chapters in the history of Mexico and the nineteenth-century Atlantic world. Edward Shawcross has marvelous material to work with, and he handles it with insight and panache.” (H.W. Brands, author of The General vs. the President)

What listeners say about The Last Emperor of Mexico

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Excellent

I initially expected a fawning hagiography. Instead, Shawcross deftly navigates between sympathy and honesty in this frank and fascinating look at a man who became absorbed in a quixotic fantasy that claimed thousands of lives. A lot of footwork was done on including the Mexican context, an aspect sorely and strangely lacking in other treatments of Maximilian's doomed reign.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book!

24 people found this helpful

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Interesting & informative historical account

The book is well written with interesting and informative historical accounts. The narrator was fine, but I found his imitation of female voices unnecessary and off putting.

20 people found this helpful

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Viva La Mexico!

Terrific writing. A Lot of European colonial hubris. And the narration by Gustavo Rex was also phenomenal considering all the French and Spanish phrases and names at times. Well done.

15 people found this helpful

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GreatListen

Aside from some clunky passages from the author and a narrator who at times feels compelled, more than enthused, to narrate, both author and narrator have presented a great story about a curious and intriguing chapter of history. Easy recommendation.

13 people found this helpful

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Interesting

The story not only provided more insight into Mexico’s history, but also of the role of imperialism. History certainly repeats itself. France’s involvement in Mexico reminds one of our involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan; and the same result.

1 person found this helpful

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Not a Balanced History

Monarchies and empires are miserable to live under unless one is wealthy, which is why my ancestors sacrificed everything to get to the United States, including millions of Mexicans. We want the freedom this imperfect country offers. If you agree with this, you will not like this book. The author favors monarchs and dictators over the freedoms the USA has to offer. In the epilogue, he states that the problems that Mexico, and most of the world have, are due to the imperialism of the United States. Rubbish! I’m returning this book and do not recommend it.

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Captivating

Ashamed to say how little I knew of this being a long-time resident of Texas. Shawcross does a really good job of making the story interesting and the characters sympathetic, but not perfect. Makes me want to read more Mexican history.

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Great book on understudied topic; Poor narrator

I greatly appreciated this detailed and engaging portraits of the Second Mexican Empire, a fascinating historical topic that one almost never sees covered, or if covered only cursorily so.

However, the narrator has a robotic off putting Casanova and he takes odd breaks in narration in seemingly the middle of paragraphs or sentences. His cadence is uniform almost without regard to the mood of tone of a certain passage.

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Reader was perfect.

Every Californian needs to know this story. I lived in Mexico City for 5 years in the 1970s an knew nothing of this history. Perfectly read. Bravo

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Great writing, great story

Well done, Edward Shawcross! I've been studying Latin America for nearly two decades now, and I found this to be a wonderfully balanced and eloquently written history of a poorly understood but devilishly important moment in time, relevant not only to Mexico but also to all of the Americas and Europe as well. A joy to read.

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