THE ARCHDUKE AND THE ASSASSIN: Sarajevo, June 28th, 1914 by Lavender Cassels

THE ARCHDUKE AND THE ASSASSIN: Sarajevo, June 28th, 1914

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Why another is indeed the question. Last year there was British author Gordon Brook-Shepherd's Archduke of Sarajevo, a flattering portrait of the assassinated heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne by a longtime champion of the Hapsburgs (and confidant of a Hapsburg survivor). Cassels is also British, and also Austrian-and Hapsburg-connected; but his dreary text is at least as much a chronicle of internal politics and international diplomacy (fully and better recounted by others) as it is about Franz Ferdinand and his teenaged Serbian-terrorist slayer, Gavilo Princip. About neither of these unprepossessing figures, moreover, does Cassels have anything novel to say. We hear once more about Europe's rivalries and alliances: Franz Ferdinand's morganatic marriage and other, cautious defiances of his aging uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph (including support for the restive minorities); the disputed annexation of Bosnia-Herzogovina and subsequent Serbo-Croatian intrigue/subversion (knowledgeably recounted in Vladimir Dedjier's The Road to Sarajevo). The point is really pointless: Princip ""did not know that the decision to annex these provinces had been taken over Franz Ferdinand's head, of his consistent opposition to war, his condemnation of Budapest treatment of the Croats and his conviction that the South Slavs of the Monarchy must be given more political and cultural autonomy, nor that the amount of influence which he could exert was limited. . . Princip was convinced that the Archduke was the principal enemy of the South Slavs, implacably opposed to their unification. Therefore he must be killed."" (Others have suggested, shrewdly, that Franz Ferdinand's very moderation made him dangerous to the revolutionaries,) Events are then serviceably if undramatically detailed, at both hands, through the shooting of Franz Ferdinand, the outbreak of war, and the conviction of the conspirators. Insofar as Cassels has integrated information from Austrian and Slavic sources with English-language scholarship, there is information here that doesn't appear together in any other single volume on Sarajevo--but it doesn't make for invigorating or eye-opening reading.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1985
Publisher: Stein & Day