I have been listening to this book on Audible all day.

A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

We all knew from basic history the state of the Austro-Hungarian empire prior to WW1, but this book really drives home just how dysfunctional it was.

The meal for a lifetime is how ideology can cause you to eschew the practical solution.

From the basic narrative, both the Ottomans and Austrians were vying for the title of sickest empire. The Ottomans and successor Turkish state survived everything intact and with a foothold in Europe because the Young turks were willing to give up that which they couldn't hold to keep the body strong. That is, they were willing to chop off the diseased arms so that the body would be healthy.

My interpretation of the AH Empire from the book is that they could have done the same and retrenched from their weak position back to their core, but they were unwilling due to a strong belief in the pride and honor of their once strong empire, which not only kept them from retrenching but forced them into a war they couldn't win in order to avoid the non-stop embarrassments of their collapsing empire.

The lesson of course is to get rid of your ideology and always analyze if you are over-extended.

I highly recommend the book.


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