The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is a sweeping historical novel of Mexico during the short, tragic, at times surreal, reign of Emperor Maximilian and his court. Even as the American Civil War raged north of the border, a clique of Mexican conservative exiles and clergy convinced Louis Napoleon to invade Mexico and install the Archduke of Austria, Maximilian von Habsburg, as Emperor. A year later, the childless Maximilian took custody of the two year old, half-American, Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green, making the toddler the Heir Presumptive. Maximilian's reluctance to return the child to his distraught parents, even as his empire began to fall, and the Empress Carlota descended into madness, ignited an international scandal. This lush, grand read is based on the true story and illuminates both the cultural roots of Mexico and the political development of the Americas. But it is made all the more captivating by the depth of Mayo's writing and her understanding of the pressures and influences on these all too human players. Her prose makes the reader taste the foods, smell the spices and flowers and feel the heat of Mexico. Mayo writes for the senses. And for the ages. The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is a story both sweeping and intimate, of geopolitics, the glamour of royalty, and the grit of military command, of the arrogance of power, the dark labyrinths of ambition, and, above all, of a child who was not, in the end, a prince, but a little boy who belonged to his parents.
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