Barbara Jelavich Book Prize


Honorable Mention

The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire

Honorable Mention: Dominique Kirchner Reill
Title: The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire (Harvard University Press)

Reill’s delightful book introduces readers to the struggles and triumphs of the multilingual and multiethnic citizens of the Adriatic city of Fiume (today Rijeka) as they navigated a governmental crisis following the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and struggled to replace the “benefits of cosmopolitan empire.” Left without a national affiliation in 1918 and occupied for more than fifteen months in 1919-1920 by the forces of poet-soldier Gabriel D’Annunzio, who supported Italian annexation of the city, Reill tells the story of the Fiume Crisis from a multiplicity of creative and unexpected angles. We read with equal fascination about high politics and diplomacy, military history, currency reforms, and their impact on everyday social, cultural, and economic life. Reill’s enthusiasm for her topic and its relevance to many of the century’s vexing historical questions jumps off the page as she joyfully narrates the story, which culminates in the rise of fascism and Mussolini’s 1924 annexation of the city. This important contribution to the history of modern Europe reminds us that nationalism is not the only driving force in the wake of empire and that the choice to align with a strong state can be more pragmatic than idealistic.

Winner: Francine Hirsch