Author: Edward Shawcross
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Published April 2022
'One of the most monstrous enterprises in the annals of international history,' said Karl Marx. 'A madness without parallel since Don Quixote,' said a future French president. This is history's judgement on the events surrounding the ill-fated reign of Maximilian of Mexico, the young Austrian archduke who in 1864 crossed the Atlantic to assume a faraway throne.
He had been convinced to do so by a duplicitous Napoleon III. Keen to spread his own interests abroad, the French emperor promised Maximilian a hero's welcome, which he would ensure with his own mighty military support. Instead, Maximilian walked into a bloody guerrilla war - and with a headful of impractical ideals and a penchant for pomp and butterflies, the so-called new emperor was singularly unequipped for the task.
The ensuing saga would feature the great world leaders of the day, popes, bandits and queens; intrigue, conspiracy and cut-throat statecraft, as Mexico became the pivotal battleground in the global balance of power, between Old Europe and the burgeoning force of the New World: American imperialism. The Last Emperor of Mexico is the vivid history of this barely known, barely believable episode - a bloody tragedy of operatic proportions, and a vital debacle, the effects of which would be felt into the twentieth century and beyond.