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Austria (German Österreich), republic in central Europe, lying mainly in the Alps. Close to three-fourths of Austria is mountainous. Austria was formerly, under the Habsburg monarchs, the heart of an extensive empire that was a major power. Vienna (Wien), which was the imperial capital, is still one of the world’s great cities, famous for its elegance, its splendid baroque architecture, and its music and theater. Vienna remains Austria’s capital and largest city.

At the end of World War I (1914-1918), the multinational empire headed by Austria was split up into separate nation states. Austria became a small landlocked republic about the size of the state of Maine. As the new nations put up trade barriers, Austria lost easy access to its former markets and sources of fuel. Its economic survival depended on foreign aid. The depression of the 1930s was ruinous for the Austrian republic. Conservative forces grew. In 1934 the Socialists, who had made Vienna a model of social democracy, were crushed, and a right-wing dictatorship entrenched itself. In 1938 Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany.

After Germany’s defeat in World War II (1939-1945), Austria was occupied by the Allied forces, including troops from the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Austria’s independence was restored in 1955, and it experienced a remarkable economic revival. Today, Austria is a prosperous nation and a member of the European Union, with thriving export industries and a large income from tourists. Visitors are attracted to Austria by the magnificent mountain scenery and the rich culture of Vienna.


For younger readers

Ake, Anne. Austria. Lucent, 2001. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Sheehan, Sean. Austria. 2nd ed. Marshall Cavendish, 1995. Introduction to the country; for readers in grades 5 to 8.

Stein, R. Conrad. Austria. Children's Press, 2000. For readers in grades 4 to 7.


Berenger, Jean.Trans. C. A. Simpson. A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1273-1918. Longman, 1994. A solid history of the Habsbugs from their origins to the end of World War I.

Bridge, F. R. The Habsburg Monarchy among the Great Powers, 1815-1918. Berg, 1991. Surveys Austria's decline as a great power in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

Brook-Shepherd, Gordon. The Austrians: A Thousand Year Odyssey. Carroll & Graf, 1997. A one-volume overview of 1,000 years of Austrian history.

Evans, Robert J. W. The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1550-1700: An Interpretation. Oxford University Press, 1979. Thorough study of the rise of the Habsburg monarchy.

Wheatcroft, Andrew. Habsburgs: Embodying Empire. Viking Penguin, 1996. Revealing examination of the Habsburg family members.

Austrian politics and society

Demetz, Peter. After the Fires: Recent Writing on the Germanies, Austria, and Switzerland. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986. The origins, writers, and themes of post-World War II literature.

Erickson, Raymond. Schubert's Vienna. Yale University Press, 1997. Essays on Viennese politics, culture, and society during Franz Peter Schubert's time.

Garland, Henry, and Mary Garland. The Oxford Companion to German Literature. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 1997. Selected material on literature, philosophy, and culture.

Heartz, Daniel. Haydn, Mozart, and the Viennese School, 1740-1780. Norton, 1995. History of music in Vienna during the 18th century.

Martens, Lorna. Shadow Lines: Austrian Literature from Freud to Kafka. University of Nebraska Press, 1996. A study of Austrian literature as a mirror of Austrian society.

Pelinka, Anton, ed. Austrian Party System. Westview, 1989. Essays analyzing parties, government, and politics since 1945.

Segel, Harold B., ed., trans., and intro. The Vienna Coffeehouse Wits, 1890-1938. Purdue University Press, 1993. Selections from the writings of eight authors, including Hermann Bahr, Karl Kraus, and Felix Salten.

Solsten, Eric, and David E. McClave, eds. Austria: A Country Study. 2nd ed. Library of Congress, 1994. A study of the history and culture of Austria.

Wegs, J. Robert. Growing Up Working Class: Continuity and Change Among Viennese Youth, 1890-1938. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989. A social history of working-class youth in Vienna, and the influence of family, gender, society, the economy, and scarcity on their attitudes.

Austrian history

Bridge, F. R. The Habsburg Monarchy Among the Great Powers, 1815-1918. Berg, 1990. History of Austria, focusing on its loss as a great power after the Napoleonic Wars.

Brook-Shepherd, Gordon. The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey. Carroll & Graf, 1997. A history of Austria from 996 to 1914.

Brunner, Otto. Land and Lordship: Structures of Governance in Medieval Austria. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992. A study of medieval feudalism in Austria.

Ingrao, Charles W. The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618-1815. 2nd ed.. Cambridge University Press, 1994, 2000. The social, political, economic, and cultural factors of the early Habsburg monarchy.

Jelavich, Barbara. Modern Austria: Empire and Republic, 1815-1984. Cambridge University Press, 1987. The late Austrian Empire, the dual monarchy, the republic, the German takeover, and the post-World War II era.

Setton, Kenneth M. Venice, Austria, and the Turks in the Seventeenth Century. American Philosophical Society, 1991. History of the eastern Mediterranean, beginning in 1592.

Solsten, Eric, and David E. McClave. Austria: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993. A study of the history and culture of Austria.

Williamson, Samuel R. Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War. St. Martin's, 1991. Examines Austro-Hungarian politics and some of the causes of World War I.


Buyer, John. Political Radicalism in Late Imperial Vienna: Origins of the Christian Social Movement. Chicago, 1981. Social Democratic movement and municipal govenment under Karl Lueger in the late 19th century.

Hofman, Paul. The Viennese: Splendor, Twilight and Exile. Doubleday, 1988. History and culture through 300 years from the Turkish invasions to the current political situation.

Morton, Frederic. Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913-1914. Macmillan, 1991. Vienna on the eve of World War I and the events surrounding assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Schorske, Carl E. Fin-de-siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture. Random, 1980. Award-winning intellectual history of Vienna in the late 19th century.

Toman, Rolf, ed. Vienna: Art & Architecture. Konemann, 1999. Copiously illustrated survey.


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