ost historians, when writing of the Habsburg Monarchy, treat it none too ndly. More often than not they have aligned themselves with the peoples of the mpire and have been most unsympathetic and at times harsh to the rulers who attempted to contain these peoples. Edward Crankshaw has succeeded in reversing this policy"" in his superb, detailed but very readable political and social history of the waning years of an ancient European dynasty. From the day Franz Josef acceded to the throne during the Revolution of 1848 until his death on the eve of Austria's efeat in World War I, a period of more than sixty-eight years, we are told step by step and with welcome clarity of what went wrong. The empire was a mixture of peoples held together only by the personal power of the dynasty. As the outside world Russia, Italy, France, England) vied to control the balance of power, the empire's internal course continually shifted. The fall of the dynasty was completed with World War I. An able intelligence is at work in this epochal portrait of disintegrating power.