Here is history’s judgement on the events surrounding the ill-fated reign of Maximilian of Mexico, the young Austrian archduke who in 1864 crossed the Atlantic to assume a faraway throne. He had been convinced to do so by a duplicitous Napoleon III. Keen to spread his own interests abroad, the French emperor promised Maximilian a hero’s welcome, which he would ensure with his own mighty military support. Instead, Maximilian walked into a bloody guerrilla war – and with a headful of impractical ideals and a penchant for pomp and butterflies, the so-called new emperor was singularly unequipped for the task. ‘The Last Emperor of Mexico’ is the vivid history of this barely known, barely believable episode – a bloody tragedy of operatic proportions, and a vital debacle, the effects of which would be felt into the twentieth century and beyond.