When I picked up Marguerite Vance's Ashes of Empire from my grandfather's library I was interested to read it. The book covers the ill-fated attempt to set up Maximilian as emperor of Mexico. Since I have read little about this event I took to the book with enthusiasm.
Published in 1959 and running 159 pages the book begins with the courtship of Maximilian and Carlota. From there it traces the path of the political forces leading to Maximilian's appointment as emperor. The book ends with the Maximilian's execution and Carlota going insane from grief.
While not badly written, I found the book to be a disappointment. Instead of the historical account I expected it is a brief overview. The reasons for Maximilian's coronation are reasonably well explained. Nothing of his reign in Mexico or his downfall is. Events are not explained and principle parties are not developed. The result is a rather hazy account where I was left with more questions than answers.
If you are looking for a quick overview of Mexico's encounter with European royalty and don't want to bother with specifics then Ashes of Empire is for you. If you want to delve into the how and why of events then I suggest skipping ahead to a more in depth account.