• 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 (146 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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  • Overall
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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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Loved it!

I really enjoyed it and kept listening as much as I could. My only concern was the narrator imitating women’s voices which didn’t make sense at all. I don’t read a book and then switch my own voice to make me think it’s a woman speaking…

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Interesting history of old world imperialism

An interesting part of history I knew nothing about. The hubris was astonishing! Some of the writing was less compelling than other parts. I found the narrator serviceable for narration and male voices, but the bizarre pitch and accents for female voices was irritating and inconsistent.

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Great book!

A very interesting recount of a very interesting character. The history behind Maximilian’s and Carlota is presented in a very engaging form in this book. Strongly recommended.

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Excellent

With a clear voice, the drama of the Mexican Emperor is related. Expertly roots the rise of the empire in the 19th century

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Who Knew, Not Me Anyway

Intriguing historical account of Mexican history not that long ago. Bringing European Monarchy to the New World.
Some graphic details related to war, but also transcends to a world parallel to a time in American history that I do know of, so this is very relatable to me in understanding the course of history.
And though it’s history, it’s yet a world that seems as modern as today in its own way of how people behave and think, all the while mixing old and new.
On occasion, some extremely high vocabulary words. Bring a dictionary.
Excellent all around..