The Rites of Peace by Adam Zamoyski
The full title is The Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. This is the successor volume – dare I say “sequel” – to Zamoyski’s last book 1812, which was a fantastic read. The first thing to note is that this is not as compelling a book as 1812 – this is due in large part to the subject matter. However interesting and important the Congress of Vienna was, it is not as intrinsically thrilling as Napoleon’s march on Moscow and subsequent defeat. However, once again Zamoyski has written a great piece of history and at the same time has upset some entrenched notions of what we thought happened in the 19th Century. His detailed examination of what happened at the Conference (and surrounding events) – from the momentous to the trivial – is illuminating. His teasing out of the impacts that the Conference had on the subsequent events in Europe is fascinating. Most definitely read this book if you are interested in 19th Century European history, or if you are interested in tracing the roots of conflict in Europe in the 20th Century.