Steven Beller is an Austrian writer, who lives in the United States.
He shows how Austria’s history and identity is inextricably tied up with the history of the Hapsburg Imperial house, which aspired at one time to establish a universal monarchy of the known world.
In this sense, Austrian history is the history of an ideal, as much as of a country.
The Austrian Empire, which lasted for hundreds of years, was a multinational one , containing almost as many distinct nationalities as are now in the European Union.
It aspired at times to treat all these nationalities equally, and one of its proposed constitutions proclaimed all nationalities equal and all citizens to be equal before the law. But that goal was never attained.
The German speaking Austrians, and the Magyar speaking Hungarians, were the dominant groups in the respective sections of the Empire. The Empire finally broke up in the aftermath of the First World War, because other nationalities, notably the Czechs and Poles, wanted their own states.
After the War, Austria became a small country, but with a capital built for an empire. It presided over part of the German speaking remnant of the Habsburg dominions, the rest being left in Czechoslovakia, Italy, Romania and Poland.
Steven Beller explores the development of anti Semitism in Austria.
This is a very well written and interesting history.