This is the history of a governing family; their urge to power that motivated its empire-building, the methods they employed to retain it and the events that threatened and/or weakened the Habsburg governance. Anybody approaching this title under the impression that it will render up yeasty anecdotes of Austro-Hungarian scandal a la Meyerling or that the essence of stultifying Teutonic court life has been traced to its source, are in for a disappointment. This is for laymen interested in the course of history as it was shaped by dynastic hands. When the book first appeared in Germany in 1956 it quickly went into two editions. This is easily understood considering the dearth of objective material on the Imperial Family. Biographers had been either white-washers or mudslingers. Mr. Wandruszka's position is that of recorder-explainer. The evolution of the dynastic policy from Rudolph I in 1273 to Franz Joseph (the last to enjoy full reign) and the rejected heirs who followed, is set forth here in terms of the changing economics, strategic factors and the rise of nationalism. There is a special bibliography for the American edition, a genealogical table and an index. Maps. Charts.... On the whole, however, not in quite even balance with Edward Crankshaw's The Fall of the House of Habsburg which appeared last fall (p. 825)--Crankshaw is the superior stylist.