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1. Royal Babylon: The Alarming History
2. Elizabeth: A Biography of Her
3. On Royalty: A Very Polite Inquiry
4. King David : A Biography
5. Diana: The Illustrated Biography
6. Diana, Princess of Wales: A Biography
7. Henry VII (Routledge Historical
8. Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
9. Diana Illustrated Biography (Collector's
10. Queen Victoria (Essential Biographies)
11. Reporting Royalty: Behind the
12. Queen of France A Biography of
13. Princess Diana (A&E Biography)
14. Royalty Who Wait: The 21 Heads
15. Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine:
16. Henry VIII (Penguin Classic Biography)
17. King: A BIOGRAPHY (Blacks in the
18. The Queen Mother: The Official
19. The Prince and His Lady: The Love
20. Victoria an intimate biography

1. Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty
by Karl Shaw
Paperback: 336 Pages (2001-05-29)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$8.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767907558
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy.

Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her lover decapitated and the head, pickled in a jar, placed at her bedside?

Royally dishing on hundreds of years of dubious behavior, Royal Babylon chronicles the manifold appalling antics of Europe's famous families, behavior that rivals the characters in an Aaron Spelling television series. Here, then, are the insane kings of Spain, one of whom liked to wear sixteen pairs of gloves at one time; the psychopathic Prussian soverigns who included Frederick William and his 102-inch waist; sex-fixated French rulers such as Philip Duke D'Oreleans cavorting with more than a hundred mistresses; and, of course, the delightfully drunken and debauched Russian czars - Czar Paul, for example, who to make his soldiers goose-step without bending their legs had steel plates strapped to their knees. But whether Romanov or Windsor, Habsburg or Hanover, these extravagant lifestyles, financed as they were by the royals' badgered subjects, bred the most wonderfully offbeat and disturbingly unbelievable tales - and Karl Shaw has collected them all in this hysterically funny and compulsively readable book.

Royal Babylon is history, but not as they teach it in school, and it underlines in side-splitting fashion Queen Victoria's famous warning that it is unwise to look too deeply into the royal houses of Europe.Amazon.com Review
From the madness of King George to the equine escapades of Catherine the Great, from the intramural squabbles of Elizabeth and Di to the staggeringly decadent exploits of Charles X: in this gossipy chronicle of regal shenanigans, British journalist Karl Shaw dishes plenty of dirt--and ably demonstrates why royal watching is such a satisfying hobby.

Was there ever a good monarch? To judge by Shaw's account, it's unlikely. Instead, he writes, "Every monarchy in Europe has at some time or another been ruled over by a madman," adding in passing that only Bavaria's King Ludwig had the good grace to turn his madness into a source of tourist revenue for his subjects' descendants. Of the mad and the downright curious there's no shortage in these pages, as Shaw delivers anecdote after anecdote concerning the demented, sometimes awful, sometimes entertaining behavior of the likes of Germany's Frederick the Great, who "drank up to forty cups of coffee a day for several weeks in an experiment to see if it was possible to exist without sleep"; Russia's Catherine I, "a raddled old alcoholic with bloodshot eyes, wild and matted hair and clothes soiled with urine stains ... [who] once survived an assassination attempt too drunk to realize that anything had happened"; and England's Queen Mary, "the only known royal kleptomaniac," whose aides would surreptitiously gather the knickknacks she'd lifted from her subjects' parlors and return them with muffled apologies.

Royal Babylon is a guilty pleasure of a book, and one that does a fine job of explaining, in Shaw's tongue-in-cheek words, "why most continentals can't get enough of royalty, provided it isn't their own." --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Customer Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Genetics in action
It was a much better book than anticpated. I had no idea what genetic problems the European royals faced.
This was our start to this years book club about royality. I feel that this gave a perspective that none of us expected or had perceived existed. And between us all we have read many books about royality. We will read our future choices about our royality and courtiers with a different perspective. Reality sometimes diminishes our images of people in this case it enhances.

1-0 out of 5 stars Below a 1
My wife, who has an interest in good historical fiction was reading this. I picked it up and started reading the section on Peter III of Russia. About 50% wrong. Then about Paul I, again, about 50% wrong. And so it went. Facts, factoids, and just plain "stories". Oddly, the author leaves out some juicy stuff that actually happened!

5-0 out of 5 stars as if Joan Rivers had written your high school history textbook
This book is fabulously hilarious.Each page has at least one memorable zinger, and each paragraph guarantees a laugh or two or more.It's as if every naughty salacious rumor about Europe's royals were gathered in one scrapbook.The mind reels as you move from country to country.Which one had the most disgusting royals?--England, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Portugal?According to this book, they all tie for first place.

If I were playing Word Bingo while reading this book, I would want my card to have the following words on it:inbreeding, syphilis, dwarf, ugly, madness, idiot, homosexual, insanity, transvestite, debauchery, dysfunctional, and (a new one to me) paradomaniac. These words pop up with almost frightening regularity.

I doubt if any of your history teachers ever shared these hilarious bizarre and perverted stories with you, but you need to read this book to find out the following:

-- Who thought she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass?
-- Who smelled like an open sewer?
-- Who was toothless and replaced her missing teeth with squares of wax?
-- Who had a 102-inch waist?
-- Who broke the heads off phosphorus matches and drank them dissolved in milk?
-- Who found her ex-lover's head pickled in alcohol in a jar by her bed?
-- Whose dog snatched and ate his heart during an autopsy?
-- Who drank seven bottles of champagne almost every evening?
-- Who ate toad excrement as an aphrodisiac?
-- Who wanted to soar above some mountains in a car drawn by peacocks?
-- Who kicked hussars to death and fired live rats from cannons?

For the answers to these and many other pressing questions, you must read this book.You will be alternately horrified and amused.

Granted there are some problems.The author tends to repeat himself as we move from chapter to chapter.And there are some factual clunkers (Charles II of Spain died in 1700, not 1770), but these little things pale when you consider how stunningly shocking the entire book is.It's impossible to have too much Dirt on these crazy royals.

5-0 out of 5 stars good read
This book was full of compelling stories. Slightly worn when arrived, but in good condition.

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not necessarily history
Kenneth Anger's notorious Hollywood Babylon created the archetype for this kind of expose literature. It's more or less like eating junk food--it tastes great at first but becomes tiresome after awhile. I'm very impressed with Shaw's coverage: all the major ruling families of Europe are represented here including Bourbons, Habsburgs, Hanoverians, Hohenzollerns, Romanovs, Saxe-Coburgers, and Wittelsbachs. In more than 300 pages, Royal Babylon chronicles the excesses, sexual and otherwise, of various members of the royal families of Europe. It's entertaining although not free from errors. For example, in discussing the murder of Rasputin, Shaw states that "While Rasputin sat and waited for the arrival of the Princess Irena, Yusupov set up a gramophone and played the only record they had, 'I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,' over and over." All the accounts I've ever seen of this incident point to "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and not the George M. Cohan tune as the one played in the background by the conspirators. The description on the back cover of the paperback edition says "Royal Bablyon (sic) is history, but not as they teach it in school, and it underlines in side-splitting fashion Queen Victoria's famous warning that it is unwise to look too deeply into the royal house of Europe." The sloppiness of such an obvious spelling error makes one wonder about the quality of the editing in this book. Royal Babylon lacks an index, which would seem to indicate that the publishers see this book more as entertainment than history. The book comes with a bibliography. Most of the titles in the bibliography are books published within the last 30 or 40 years and all appear to be secondary, rather than primary sources. Given the scabrous nature of many of these anecdotes, I think it would have made sense to provide footnotes so that the reader can judge the veracity of the sources for these stories. Again, I suspect that the publisher was just looking to publish something that would be gossipy and entertaining. However, the biggest shortcoming, at least in my paperback copy, is the lack of pictures. Shaw spends a great deal of time describing the unattractiveness of many of these profligate royals so how come there are no pictures so that we can draw our own conclusions? This is definitely a fun book to read except that you'll come away from it feeling empty.
... Read more

2. Elizabeth: A Biography of Her Majesty the Queen (Penguin Literary Biographies)
by Sarah H. Bradford
Paperback: 592 Pages (2002-02-28)
list price: US$20.65 -- used & new: US$11.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141006552
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is the definitive biography of the Queen that reveals the real woman behind the public figure. Sarah Bradford unravels Elizabeth's family secrets - how she was influenced by her father; her troubled relationships with her children; the story of her difficult marriage; and how this remarkable monarch has coped with the pressures of being a mother who is also the most famous woman in the world. 'The only book that could overtake it is the autobiography, which in this case will never be written' - "Spectator." ... Read more

3. On Royalty: A Very Polite Inquiry into Some Strangely Related Families
by Jeremy Paxman
Hardcover: 384 Pages (2007-05-07)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$4.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586484915
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A hugely entertaining look at the institution of monarchy by Britain's most combative and best-loved broadcaster.

The notable characteristic of the royal families of Europe is that they have so very little of anything remotely resembling true power. Increasingly, they tend towards the condition of pipsqueak principalities like Liechtenstein and Monaco--fancy-dress fodder for magazines that survive by telling us things we did not need to know about people we have hardly heard of.

How then have kings and queens come to exercise the mesmeric hold they have upon our imaginations? In On Royalty renowned BBC journalist Jeremy Paxman examines the role of the British monarchy in an age whendivine right no longer prevails and governing powers fall to the country's elected leaders. With intelligence and humor, he scrutinizes every aspect of the monarchy and how it has related to politics, religion, the military and the law. He takes us inside Buckingham Palace and illuminates the lives of the monarchs, at once mundane, absurd and magical. What Desmond Morris did for apes, Paxman has done for these primus inter primates: the royal families. Gilded history, weird anthropology and surreal reportage of the royals up close combine in On Royalty, a brilliant investigation into how an ancient institution struggles for meaning in a modern country. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Fun to Read
I love this kind of book. It is written for people who like history and study history, but also like gossip. There were small details that made it all worth it. The author is witty.

3-0 out of 5 stars Just okay...kinda repetitive and a little boring after awhile
The author makes some interesting points on why Britain has held onto the monarchy while most other European countries have not. Some interesting bits of info in here too. But after awhile it gets kind of repetitive and it seems like he's just saying the same thing in slightly different ways. It was one of those books where I kept checking the page counts to see how much more was left to read. If you're looking for a gossipy book, this isn't it. It's more of a historical work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Afine royal romp!
Jeremy Paxman is not anti-royal. I get the impression that he has a grudging affection for Royals- warts and all. But he doesn't hesitate to show their foibles and failings in often hilarious anecdotes. Prince Charles comes across as whiny and self pitying, in spite of his immense privileges and four valets. He appears ridiculous, too, in the widely broadcast 6 minutes of his intimate bedroom ruminations to his then mistress, Camilla.( A bit unfair: how many of us say profound things when on the phone with our lover?)

Philip appears bad-tempered, shrill and tactless, but is much respected by his staff.

The Queen gets quite gentle and respectful treatment and is shown to be quite human as she renews her lipstick right at the dinner table, explains to a Bishop how the huge royal dinner table napkins should be placed on one's lap, starch side up and tucked under one's bottom, and nods to a footman to release the Corgi pack so she can feed them under the table.

Surprisingly, Paxman is somewhat laconic on Diana, whom he actually once lunched with. Except for the fact he was surprised at her height, he gives few detailsof that luncheon when we are thirsting for delicious tidbits of the encounter. Maybe he had his defenses up so he would not succumb to her charisma and God forbid, gush.

We get glimpses of the corpulent, not too bright Edward VII, the childish, shallow, self-indulgent Edward VIII, the mediocre stamp collector George V, Queen Mary the kleptomaniac. Tsar Nicholas II and his unpopular wife Alexandra appear on the stage as does Kaiser Wilhelm II. A whole chapter is devoted to the execution of Charles I, who met his death with extraordinary equanimity and like his grandmother, Mary Queen of Scots, considered himself a martyr. And perhaps the funniest chapter in the whole book describes the interview by Paxman of the king of Albania, in the latter's ramshackle home in Tiran.

"On Royalty" is a great potpourri and Paxman supports the monarchy, because, as he points out, the most stable societies in Europe are monarchies while some of the most unstable and corrupt ones have presidents.

5-0 out of 5 stars Light & Fun Read
I found this book to be highly entertaining. I am from the U.S. but have lived in several countries in Europe, and this book gave me lots of interesting tidbits about the royals with whom I've always been fascinated.The one person who gave it 1 star should have read the jacket blurb for the book before they read it. I'm a little worried he blew an unnecessary blood vessel over a light bit of reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Royal subject takes on subject of royalty -- with limited results
I would have enjoyed this book more if the typos hadn't started in the Introduction, followed by countless grammar and punctuation errors. And, of all people, a journalist writing about the royal family should be able to keep straight the proper use of titles; not the case here. (Side note: does Paxman have it out for the Queen Mother? I found it odd that he so often refers to her as "George VI's widow". She was, of course, but none of the other queen consorts in the book gets the heavy "widow" treatment.) A misleading title as well -- I assumed the book would cover the interrelatedness of European royalty much more than it did; it's pretty much just the House of Windsor, with a side trip to Albania. Also, note to the author: Henry VIII didn't divorce Anne Boleyn, he got an *annulment*. (Why the world insists on calling it a divorce, I don't know, but Paxman ought to know better. A divorce, ironically, would have been the easy way out. But noooo...)

Overall, an uneven treatment of a fascinating subject; the book should have fascinated as well. ... Read more

4. King David : A Biography
by Steven L. McKenzie
Hardcover: 248 Pages (2000-04-27)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$32.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195132734
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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One of the most important and complex characters in the Bible, King David has been the subject of innumerable portraits, both artistic and literary. Michaelangelo's magnificent sculpture of him is perhaps the single best known work of art in the world, and the story of the humble shepherd who slew Goliath and became king has assumed a powerful mythological status. But was David a real person--and if so what kind of person was he?

Through a close and critical reading of biblical texts, ancient history, and recent archeological discoveries, Steven L. McKenzie concludes that David was indeed a real person. This David, however, was no hero but a usurper, adulterer, and murderer--a Middle Eastern despot of a familiar type. McKenzie shows that the story of humble beginnings is utterly misleading: "shepherd" is a metaphor for "king," and David came from a wealthy, upper-class background.Similarly, McKenzie reveals how David'sascent to power, traditionally attributed to popularity and divine blessing, in fact resulted from a campaign of terror and assassination. While instituting a full-blown Middle Eastern monarchy, David was an aggressive leader, a devious politician, and a ruthless war chief. Throughout his scandalous reign, important figures who stood in his way died at convenient times, under questionable circumstances. Even his own sons were not spared. David's story, writes McKenzie, "reads like a modern soap opera, with plenty of sex, violence, and struggles for power."

Carefully researched and vividly written, King David: An Unauthorized Biography offers a provocative reappraisal of the life of one of the Bible's most compelling figures.Amazon.com Review
King David: A Biography is a revisionist account of a life that has been viewed as heroic throughout history. Taking a stance against this traditional view, Hebrew scholar Steven L. McKenzie maintains that David was in fact tyrannical to the bone. Thus, McKenzie's version of the David story "reads like a modern soap opera, with plenty of sex, violence, and struggles for power." McKenzie's arguments are based on ancient inscriptions and archaeological artifacts that shed light on the biblical stories of David's reign--and on the Bible stories themselves. (Throughout the book, McKenzie also refers to the many poems, plays, novels, paintings, and sculptures that have helped shape David's reputation.) The key to McKenzie's argument is the apologetic tone of the biblical David stories, which he traces with enthusiastic rigor. McKenzie explains: "The fact that the author felt the need to try to explain the motives behind David's deeds indicates that those deeds were widely believed to have occurred. An author would not invent accusations against David--such as that he once served as a mercenary to the Philistines--just to try to explain them away." In other words, McKenzie believes that the Bible's misrepresentation of King David's despotic reign is the best evidence that the Bible is historically reliable. It's a somewhat contorted argument, but it has been the consensus among Hebrew scholars for some time. McKenzie has done readers a great service by writing an accessible version of this important academic theory so that lay readers will be better equipped to judge David's reputation for themselves. --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Impressive Study of David
As I was logging on to review this book, I saw a review referring to this book as a "fun and popularized account," "reads a bit like a tabloid," "breezy in style," and "easy to read."Surely the reviewer has confused his books.

Prof. McKenzie documents almost every biblical reference in the narrative, provides summaries at the end of most chapters, obviously knows Hebrew, and attaches 20 pages of footnotes and a 17-page bibligraphy. This is not a read for the beach.

I was personally blown away by his conclusions about David. Since his interpretation was quite a reversal from what I believed, I resisted his teaching for several chapters.I checked his every quote to my own Bible.I questioned if I was reading heresy. I questioned my belief in the Bible.

Then, I thought, "Wow! This man might be right!" It would certainly illustrate God's capacity for forgiveness.

2-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not as good as the work of Baruch Halpern
McKenzie offers a fun and popularized account of the life of David.However, the text he produces, far from being scholarly, often reads a bit like a tabloid account of King David.Deconstructing the book of Samuel, a Herculean and important task, has been accomplished elsewhere by serious scholars who offer very deep reconstructions of this most fascinating and contradictory character.Readers looking to explore the subject would do well to look for Professor B. Halpern's seminal work, "David's Secret Demons."While not as breezy in style, the book goes far deeper in uncovering its subject and will offer the reader far more food for thought.Therefore, if looking for an easy read, pick up McKenzie, but those with a serious interest in King David should put the time and effort into a more serious work.Please, take a look at Halpern; you won't regret it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good
I read many books but there is only one book I can read again and again its the bible. SoI have read the story of David many times.This book takes it from an different angle.What really was the historical David we will neverknow!What we have is the greatest piece of writings in the world but when, where and who wrote them we are not sure.In the bible its very hard to determine where fiction and history merge.

The story of David in this book is in a sense quite negative in that David is portrayed as a power hungry person. However to me it made him more real. I certainly have not my sense of grandeur in David. Some of his explanations somehow appear to be pretty weak. But he does present his evidence but that is not the writers fault as much as the lack of historical information.

He does leave us with a bad taste to the writer of the bible who he states "is trying to promote or excuse David". This may be true because we really do not know very much about who the writers were or there motives.

It well written and I would recommend this book to you.

3-0 out of 5 stars Brief for the Prosecution
Steven McKenzie's biography of David is based on the theory that the account in Samuel is an "apologia"--a brief for the defense, and that if you look hard at what the text seems to be defending David against, you can figure out what David actually did.

This is a smart assumption but the suspicious reading it generates results in a biography of David that would make Ken Starr's portrait of Bill Clinton look like a panegyric.The only virtue McKenzie can allow David is that of being an effective guerrilla warrior because, if he hadn't been, he couldn't have reached the throne in the first place.The rest of the story is viewed as pro-David propaganda.If the story tells us that David spared the life of the worthless Nabal and that Nabal subsequently died of natural causes, it means that this is the cover story and that David must have killed him or had him killed.

The problem for the reader comes when you ask if there is any way David could have had any attractive qualities.Given the way McKenzie reads Samuel, the nice things that are said about David must be spin, and the nasty facts reported about David (and there are plenty of them, including his adultery with Bathsheba, his inability to control his sensual and ambitious children, his vindictiveness against political enemies) are facts too well known to be denied.Given McKenzie's method, David simply cannot have done anything right.

The fact is that, like almost every figure in the Bible, David's life exists in the text and only there.There aren't any alternative witnesses to who he was and what he did.The story in the book of Samuel contains all we are ever likely to know about David, and any method that insists on reading past the story to the REAL David is going to come up either with a panegyric or a lampoon, depending on how suspicious a method of reading it adopts.

But the book of Samuel itself is far more complex than any of these simplifying readings.It presents a warrior and a king who was decidedly human--sometimes all too human--and depicts his world with a richness of texture that lawyer's briefs, like McKenzie's, are necessarily going to flatten out.McKenzie's book will be useful if it makes readers turn back to Samuel and read it closely and attentively, but the story it tells is a prosecutorial brief that, seen against its source, seems thin and unconvincing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent blend of historical writing and historical method
McKenzie has done a remarkable job of writing a biography of a man for whom the only substantial source, the Bible, was written long after the fact with a specific agenda.Through a careful, critical reading of theBiblical accounts of David's life, McKenzie is able to recover a surprisingamount of historical information, and his arguments are generally quitesound.Although as he admits himself he is only able to create a"plausible tale," the tale is plausible indeed, and as a verypleasant bonus, the style of the book is very accessible and readable.I'mnot familiar with Davidic scholarship, but McKenzie's biography seems to besquarely in the mainstream.It stands both as a splendid book in its ownright, and also as an excellent exercise in historical method, when dealingwith extremely difficult sources. ... Read more

5. Diana: The Illustrated Biography
by Alison Gauntlett
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2008-07-01)
list price: US$26.83 -- used & new: US$9.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0955794994
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Collection
This is a beautifully put together collection of both black and white as well as colored photographs of one of the world's most beloved people.Some of these photos have been previously published in other collections but more then half are "new" to the public.This is a great coffee table book and with little descriptions and captions for each photo...a detailed look into the very public life of Diana Princess of Wales.This collection is worth picking up. ... Read more

6. Diana, Princess of Wales: A Biography (Greenwood Biographies)
by Martin Gitlin
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2008-04-30)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$17.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313348790
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Long before her tragic death, Diana, Princess of Wales was a beloved modern icon, relatable to the general public in a way that transcended the barrier between royal and commoner. As a member of the royal family in an age of mass media, her fairy-tale wedding to, and painful divorce from, Prince Charles was played out on the world stage. Later, her humanitarian work for the Red Cross, her campaigns against landmines, and her work with the sick, especially AIDS victims, added a compassionate element to the royal family in the eyes of the world—and the world, ten years later, still hasn't gotten enough of Lady Di. This objective, accessible volume explores Diana's fascinating life, including her aristocratic upbringing, her whirlwind engagement to Prince Charles, her rocky marriage, her post-divorce status as global humanitarian icon, the media's frenzied treatment of her death, and her charitable legacy, including her sons' coming-of-age and their attempts to honor her memory.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
I read this book cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely. I am a huge fan of Diana and quite knowledgeable about her life, but I learned a great deal more from reading Gitlin's account. He is a gifted and entertaining writer. I would recommend this book to anyone, particularly those who admire Princess Diana.

1-0 out of 5 stars So disappointing.
Let the buyer beware! Do not be fooled, as I was, by the print date.This is NOT really a new book.It is merely the compilation of many old books about Diana and is aimed at middle and high school students.Unless you have a book report due tomorrow, don't get it.It should be referred to as "Biography Lite". ... Read more

7. Henry VII (Routledge Historical Biographies)
by Sean Cunningham
Paperback: 336 Pages (2007-04-12)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$27.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415266211
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This biography illuminates the life of Henry VII himself, how he ran his government, how his authority was maintained, and the nature of the country over which he ruled since he first claimed the throne in 1485.

Sean Cunningham explores how Henry's reign was vitally important in stabilizing the English monarchy and providing the sound financial and institutional basis for later developments in government, and tackles key questions in the debate:

  • Was Henry VII a conventional late medieval nobleman?
  • How did his upbringing affect his later kingship?
  • What was the nature of Henry's marriage to Elizabeth of York?
  • How and why did he become the main rival to Richard III following the disappearance of Edward V and his brother in July 1483?

Up until now the details of Henry as a person and as a king, his court and household, his subjects, and his country have remained little known. This book fills that gap, bringing to the forefront the life and times of the very first Tudor king.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Has its merits, but a bit dry in the second half
The earlier part of this book, dealing with Henry Tudor's family background and youth, was really interesting. It also maintained my interest as it dealt with Henry's life and work up until the deaths of his son Arthur and his wife, and as it studied his battles with Perkin Warbeck. But at some point in the chapter `Tudor government at work', it began to lose my interest; then, as it went on, it lost my interest more and more, until I found I had to skim some parts because I just couldn't focus on the dry details about the government of England.

A passage such as this is a good example of what's boring about the latter half:

"Henry also introduced a clear way of calculating the duty due on particular types of goods, by giving them a formal value in a book of rates. The book was in use in the port of London in 1502. When the values given to imported goods were realistic and accurate reflections of the market price, the crown was guaranteed a regular rate of customs duty. When prices began to differ from the formal valuation, merchants began either to pay too much duty on their goods or the crown's income fell as prices of goods increased. During the prosperous years of Henry VII's reign this did not become a problem, but later Tudor monarchs attempted to compensate for the static nature of the rates by reissuing them for various ports in line with inflation."

It's still worth reading. The chapter `The rigours of kingship' ends with Henry's death and funeral, which is where the `biography' ends. After that, it gets drier and drier, so that only those seeking an endless succession of facts on the era will probably find that their attention is held.

Four stars for the biography contained in the first 119 pages vs. three stars for the dull-but-worthy history that follows = 3.5 stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars A thorough study of an oft-neglected Monarch
The amount of material on the 16th century Tudor Monarchs is vast-- especially with regard to King Henry VIII, his wives and Queen Elizabeth I.Queen "Bloody" Mary and King Edward VI have also been written about a good deal.But the founder of the Tudor dynasty, easily the most fascinating and embattled dynasty of the English Crown, has been relegated to a historical footnote.Recently I decided to search for a book about Henry VII and was surprised to find very little available, most of which had been published nearly 100 years ago.This study, published in 2007, is fortunately available through Amazon and is a thoroughly researched account of Henry VII's early life, claim and rise to the throne of England.The politics of any monarchy can be complicated, but the multiple claims to England's crown in the late Middle Ages make things downright murky.The author does his best to sort things out, although I did occasionally find myself re-reading paragraphs here and there to make sure I understood things.
Often portrayed as a cold fish, interested only in the accumulation of wealth and power, manipulating the Church to keep it on his side, Henry VII is shown to have his human side as well.A man of intelligence, skill, and incredible political instincts, he not only secured the throne on what appeared to be a very precarious claim, he maintained it to the end of his life, keeping England generally at peace and prospering.His court was certainly a Medieval one, lacking the flash and flair of the continental courts, but neither was it intellectually or artistically impoverished.Much has been made of his scheming to keep Catherine of Aragon in England for his second son, Henry, after Prince Arthur, to whome she was married in childhood, dies, causing Henry VII to seem interested only in maintaining the Tudor dynasty and not caring about anything or anyone else.Next-born son Henry (soon to become Henry VIII) is brought back to the court after a lifetime of being prepared for a church career and 'second son' status, and told he will marry his dead brother's widow, a young lady 5 years older than he.But what we learn here is that Henry VII is genuinely heart-broken on learning of eldest son's death, and immediately went to his wife's (the Queen-mother Elizabeth) chambers to comfort her as best he could.Neither would see anyone for two days and remained together in isolation.The Queen Mother's heartbreak was so great she died not long after her eldest son.So Henry at the end of his life does indeed become withdrawn, barely social, only working on the affairs of state and grooming his son Henry, Prince of York now Prince of Wales, to assume the reins of the kingdom.It is a reaction all too human in many men who suffered great personal tragedies in a short period of time after a lifetime of hard work.
The results of Henry VII's policies, and his influence on the Monarchy is also examined; King Henry VII, largely known as the father of the (in)famous Henry VIII, is shown to have more greatly shaped the future of English political beliefs and strategies than many would believe.He was often forgiving of his enemies, was judicious and rather sparing by the standards of the day with executions, never embarked on wholesale persecutions to show power, and expanded England's wealth and grew trade.He passed onto his son a stable, wealthy and prospering kingdom, but not, unfortunately, any of the traits that would keep it growing (Henry VIII often went back on his word, executed over 15,000 of his subjects, lost territories, and bankrupted the nation; it took the 5th and last Tudor, Elizabeth I, to restore and increase what the first Tudor created).
For research and thoroughness and detail, this books gets 5 stars, however, it must be admitted that it can be a difficult and dense read. Worthwhile though, for any student of this fascinating period of English history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Important, unbiased, outstanding
For various reasons, Henry VII and his place in history are hard to understand; historians debate about whether he was a conscious innovator, propelling England toward the modern age, or a traditional late medieval king. Much of what one would like to know about him will probably never be known, because many of his important actions were never recorded in writing, much that was has not survived, and some of the surviving sources have never been carefully examined.

This book is a treasure, deserving careful reading and rereading. It avoids propounding conjectures, and instead provides a careful, detailed account of what we do know about Henry VII, his reign, his policies and the situations he dealt with. What emerges from this gives me the following views. Henry governed for 24 years mostly by using the forms and laws and methods of his Plantagenet predecessors, but using them in ways his predecessors had not, so that he could usually rely upon even his enemies in England to carry out his desires, as he had to, given that more than half the nobility and gentry had cause at one time or another to resent him and wish him dead. By using unorthodox approaches within the existing framework he transformed the role of English royalty, although he quite likely had no conscious intention of doing anything more dramatic than keeping himself and his heirs alive and ensuring a peaceful succession. That was enough so that he and the next four monarchs died peacefully in their beds, which when he seized the throne would have seemed quite unlikely. By careful, detailed, diligent and often secretive oversight, he kept England relatively free of both foreign wars and domestic insurrections, and this enabled the gentry and the yeomen and merchants to become far more prosperous than they were when he took the throne. Evidently he created an excellent intelligence service to warn him of plots before they matured, and with the information from that he acted promptly and wisely against threats, using minimal force.

He has a reputation as a miser; this seems to me undeserved. He greatly increased government revenue, by various schemes, some of dubious legality, but he seems to me to have considered money primarily to be a crucial lever of power. By rewarding those who served him well, and by threatening to ruin potential opponents by fines and bail bonds, of which he actually collected very few, he got loyal service from many who had no cause to love him.

He also has a reputation as a tyrant, and he could be when he felt that to be necessary. But he avoided tyrannizing over the merchants and yeomen and most of the gentry; his tyranny, if it was such, was aimed at convincing the nobility that they must obey the king, rather than regarding the king as just first among equals, as the nobility had come to believe they could during the later part of the Plantagenet era. Among other things, this determination of Henry's was instrumental in greatly reducing the violent confrontations between members of the nobility which had been so common and so destructive for most of the 14th and 15th Centuries.

Not least among the virtues of this book is a thorough, extensive list of sources for further reading. Indeed, the only criticism I have of the book is that I wish it included among its illustrations, or as its cover illustration, the 1505 portrait painting from life that's now in the British National Portrait Gallery. All the other portraits of Henry VII that we have today were painted or drawn after his death, relying on his death mask and/or the effigy on his tomb; all of those give Henry a look of gloom that does not seem to have been characteristic of him, whereas the one portrait from life makes him look amiable and faintly amused.
... Read more

8. Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
by Marion Meade
Paperback: 416 Pages (1991-11-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$4.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140153381
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A comprehensive account of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The wife of King Louis VII of France and then of King Henry II of England, and mother to Richard Coeur de Lion and King John, she became the key political figure of the 12th century. Eleanor's long life inspired a number of legends.At twenty-five she set out for the Holy Land as a Crusader and at seventy-eight she crossed the Pyreness to Spain to fetch the granddaughter whose marriage would be, she hoped, a pledge of peace between England and France.This is a compassionate biography of this charismatic queen and the world she ruled over. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars one intriguing biography!
I've had this book for several years now, reading it after someone recommended it to me. Eleanor had such an interesting life that every now and then I pull out this book and read it again.All the other reviews give great details reviewing her life so I won't review the content again.Most others have completed better descriptions than I could give. She is a fascinating character and the things she experienced were unbelievable and and amazing.I highly recommend this book for history lovers.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography that is immensely readable.
I am not much of a reader of biographies as many of them read like text books.Meade has managed to do a superlative job in creating a biography that I found myself unable to put down.

I have read the critics stating the book is more fiction than history.Without personally researching every document Meade used to develop her book (a task I am sure the critics did not perform), I felt able to easily understand where Meade made conjectures about Eleanor's thoughts and motivations for the actions that she took, most of which were well documented by Eleanor's contemporaries - particularly in the accounting department.It is apparent to me that Meade's conjectures were based on these solid facts along with a good dose of understanding what it much have been like for a women of means and will to be constantly under the thumb of men.

Critics also state that Meade painted a woman without faults.Obviously they did not read the book.The description Meade gives of Eleanor's second attempt to regain Toulouse with her land hungry second husband shortly after a friendly truce with her ex-husband was gained, amounted to Meade basically stating in so many words, "What was she thinking?"

Rather than faultless, Meade gives a detailed description of a complex woman; a woman of intelligence, but also a woman easily succumbed to flattery; a woman of independent will consistently struggling against a society clipping her wings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Full of Color: a turbulent life
"Meade's history [of Eleanor] is full of color, but based on facts," a reviewer wrote in 1999. As indeed it should be. Those qualities are not antithetical: history is often colorful and always based on facts. Reading reviews of Marion Meade's "Eleanor of Aquitaine: a Biography" (1977) is to discover that this writer is defending Meade's book against comments such as: "[It's] a very good read, but one suspects it is a poor history." And, under the heading "Entertaining fiction, not history" a reviewer describes Meade's book as, "indeed entertaining, and paints a vivid portrait... one that many readers have complained is missing from other biographies of this most fascinating queen." But then the reviewer changes direction, adding: "A substantial proportion of that portrait is conjecture."

Some conjecture is essential to a quality biography from a faraway time. (Where would a jury be without connecting facts?) Meade's book is readable, superbly researched--as one expects from an accomplished journalist--and colorful. It is what a lengthy biography of an amazing woman should be, especially when the adventure of that long, exceptional life was so extraordinary.

Marion Meade's diversity of interests is intriguing. She has written biographies of Buster Keaton, Woody Allen, Dorothy Parker, and tales of the roaring twenties under the title "Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin." On the other hand, here is this well-researched, compelling biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a rebellious life, to be sure, but a life pushing forth from the stony soil of the straightened, misogynistic twelfth century. Eleanor's life and times clearly made an impact on the author. Two years later (no doubt using some of the same hard-won research) she gave us the tale of Eleanor's near-contempory in "Stealing Heaven: The Love Story of Heloise and Abelard." Eleanor may have heard Abelard preach in Paris. Like Heloise, in Meade's capable hands Eleanor of Aquitaine comes across as the mistress of her life--even, be it said, of her life's many frustrations.

Robert Fripp, author of
"Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine"

4-0 out of 5 stars Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
This book provides a detailed, insightful and thorough examination of a woman whose life would have been radical by modern standards. However, Eleanor lived nine centuries ago, in an age when patriarchial attitudes, values and mores were completely dominant. In such a world, Eleanor not only survived, she thrieved. The wife of two powerful Kings, Eleanor was a match for any man. She floutted convention, wearing armour and riding a charger on crusade, Eleanor remained sexually attractive enough to have the King of England, a man fourteen years her junior, marry her without regard for her lack of the normal virginal requirements of a queenconsort.

5-0 out of 5 stars Historical or Not, A Great Read
This was a wonderful book.I would read as much as I had time to each day and then spend time thinking about Eleanor until I could get back to her story.I have read other accounts, one historical, of Eleanor of Aquitaine, but this one brings her to life more than anything else I have read about her.She truly was a remarkable person by any standards and Meade made me feel as though I was right there watching it all unfold.I would highly recommend this book, particularly, if you have not read anything else on Eleanor and I guarantee you will want to find out more. ... Read more

9. Diana Illustrated Biography (Collector's Series)
by Alison Gauntlet
Paperback: 224 Pages (2010-01-01)
-- used & new: US$10.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 190717608X
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10. Queen Victoria (Essential Biographies)
by Elizabeth Longford
Paperback: 128 Pages (2009-05-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$97.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0752450611
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch in British history. In this concise biography, Lady Longford, long recognized as an authority on the subject, gives a full account of Queen Victoria’s life and provides her unique assessment of the monarch. Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 on the death of her uncle William IV. In 1840 she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and for the next 20 years they were inseparable. Their descendants were to succeed to most of the thrones of Europe. When Albert died in 1861 Victoria’s overwhelming grief caused her to almost withdraw from public life for several years. This perceived dereliction of public duty, coupled with rumors about her relationship with her Scottish attendant, John Brown, led to increasing criticism. Coaxed back into the public eye by Disraeli, she resumed her political and constitutional interest with vigor until her death in 1901.
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise
This book is a concise recording of the details of the life of Queen Victoria.I also bought a much larger bio, thinking I could read the smaller one first, then dig into the larger volume.Wrong!I am reading the larger one first, because it puts into perspective who all the "characters" are in this concise version.It is still a very good book.I'm just not a very good history student.

5-0 out of 5 stars good little book
this book is a good little read with a overview of the life of queen victoria.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Longer Version of the Countess Longford Bio ofVictoria Exists
Actually, I probably shouldn't review this book as I am more familiar with the approximately 600 page biography of Queen Victoria that the Countess of Longford published in 1965.It is excellent.I only mention this as one reviewer was disappointed by the length of this version.Those seeking a far more in-depth account by the same author should search for QUEEN VICTORIA-BORN TO SUCCEED.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice Read and Good Information
I enjoyed reading this book.It gave a good overview of Queen Victoria's life.The information was complete and pertinent.

I also found it to be a very quick read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise, but great little book
I was expecting a bigger book, so I was surprised when this whimpy little paperback arrived. It reads more like a textbook, but is full of great information.Highly recommend if you are looking for a fact filled biography. ... Read more

11. Reporting Royalty: Behind the Scenes with the BBC's Royal Correspondent
by Jennie Bond
Paperback: 384 Pages (2002-05-13)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$40.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0747240248
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For thirteen years Jennie Bond has been treading in the footsteps of the Royal Family as the BBC's royal correspondent.In that time, she has covered many momentous events - among them, three marriage breakdowns, Camillagate, the Queen's annus horribilis and the death of the Princess of Wales, whom Jennie had met privately on a number of occasions.Jennie recounts these meetings in material that until now has never been in print.This is a lively, entertaining book that will cast the Royals in a new light as Jennie takes the reader behind the scenes of events at home and on tour. ... Read more

12. Queen of France A Biography of Marie Antoinette
by Andre Castelot
Paperback: 446 Pages (2009-11-27)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$23.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4871878546
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Marie Antoinette Josèphe Jeanne de Habsbourg-Lorraine); (Vienna, 2 November 1755 - Paris, 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I.At the age of fourteen, on the day of her marriage to Louis-Auguste, Dauphin of France, she became Dauphine de France. At the death of King Louis XV, in May 1774, her husband ascended the French throne as Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette assumed the title of Queen of France and Navarre. After seven years of marriage she gave birth to a daughter, Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, the first of their four children.During the Reign of Terror, at the height of the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette's husband was deposed and the royal family was imprisoned. Marie Antoinette was tried, convicted of treason and executed by guillotine on 16 October 1793, nine months after her husband. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Queen of France by Andre Castelot
"For all its careful scholarship and judicious balance of judgment," says The Listener, "it has the readability and grip of a good novel.It deserves the wide public that it is likely to attract."

She was Marie Antoinette, a lovely Austrian princess.She was fourteen when she first met her fifteen-year-old husband, the Dauphin of France.He was a shy, heavy young man, overshadowed by his grandfather, Louis XV.

The girl had many problems to cope with at the French court, among them her husband's lack of interest, the King's spinster daughters (almost her only companions at first) and Madame du Barry, the King's favorite.Yet she soon won everyone's heart and had all of Paris at her charming feet.

But as time went by, not only the court but the country as a whole and Marie Antoinette's mother (Maria Theresa of Austria, four hundred leagues away, and constantly advising her daughter by mail) were alarmed by the fantastic parties, wild extravagances, and excessive pleasures of the Dauphin's bride.

Then Louis XV died, and the courtiers coming to salute the new nineteen-year-old king found him and his queen on their knees weeping bitterly."Oh, God," they cried, embracing each other, "protect us, we are too young to reign."

Andre Castelot, a distinguished French scholar and historian, has in this book written one of the most brilliant of recent biographies, which makes Marie Antoinette, from her arrival in France to the day she rode to her death in a cart, amazingly alive for the reader.We are carried from the intimate chambers of the young queen, through the incredible splendor and shocking discomfort of life at Court, to the awesome sounds of the rising mob, the last desperate flights, and the ultimate imprisonment and execution.

The author has had a mass of decuments at his disposal while writing this book, many of them newly discovered in Viennese and Parisian archives, and never before presented to the public.
Robert Pick says, "I admire this book immensely.Familiar with the Marie Antoinette story and its grim climax, I yet found myself in suspense to the last."

4-0 out of 5 stars France
Great! Not only the negative side of the Marie Antoinette was mentioned but also a good analysis ... Read more

13. Princess Diana (A&E Biography)
by Katherine E. Krohn
Paperback: 112 Pages (1999-10)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$21.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822596830
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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For Diana Spencer, the dream of becoming a princess was realized when she married Prince Charles. Throughout her often tumultuous lifetime, Diana touched countless lives and when she died, her spirit and genuine love for others continued to influence the entire world. Author Katherine Krohn tells the story of Princess Diana, from her privileged but sad childhood to the tragic accident that took the life of this extraordinary woman--whose charities continue to help people today. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
I liked this book a lot.Diana had a very busy life and a lot to do but she always found time for other people.It is sad that she died but I think she did a lot of good things in her life.This book tells the story of abeautiful person.I give it a A+ !!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book!!!
My daughter read this book for a school report. I picked it up to look at it, & then couldn't put it down. I was impressed and touched by this well-told story. ... Read more

14. Royalty Who Wait: The 21 Heads of Formerly Regnant Houses of Europe
by Olga S. Opfell
Paperback: 242 Pages (2001-04-15)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$31.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786409010
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, but there's little else out there...
Sadly, what could have been a good book turns up very poor. First of all, did anyone EDIT the book? I can't even count the mistakes in the book, especially the absolute murdering of names and places. Parts of the book were written as if the target audience was comprised of 5th graders; elsewhere it was a family tree mess. And worse, parts of the book were misleading and apologistic. Wikipedia did a better job here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Former Royalty of Europe
This is an exceptionally interesting book because it details all the more obscure monarchies in Europe.I was fascinated by how these particular monarchies were formed, who ruled, what the political situation were and how the monarchies were dissolved.

The information given about former rulers and who are still pretender(s)
was very informative.I liked this book because it filled in a lot of the gaps that I have read briefly about. Now, the gaps have been filled in.
A must for anyone who interested more obscure royal houses.

5-0 out of 5 stars A N......E X C E L L E N T.....E X C I T I N G......B O O K
Reading other reviews of this book, I have discovered I
don't know as much about royalty as I thought I did!
Although I did know some of the information included, I
certainly learnt more than I already knew!Many of the
stories are very thrilling, others are very sad.But
all are very real!

Making the book even more real and interesting are
the PHOTOGRAPHS....one photograph of each head of every
royal house mentioned! These pictures add a genuineness
and trueness to the text -- one realizes one is reading
about REAL people, and not fairy-tales!I only wish that
there were more photos in this book...but the tantalizing
one for each royal house is very, very welcome, nonethe-

The book contains a list of Monarchist Organizations,
an extensive bibliography, and a full, (and long!) index.
The paper is the best available, the print-style large
enough to be readable, and very well spaced.This book
a trade-paperback, and has the best paperback binding
available, (with superiour glue, and a slightly rounded
spine.)All that is missing is a hard cover, with
gold engraving!

Definitely a great book, both in content and present-

2-0 out of 5 stars It could have been better
I have been studying royalty and royal genealogy for more than twenty years and when I heard that this book was coming out, I wanted to purchase it. But instead I borrowed it from the library and I am so grateful that I did. My main complaint actually is that the book is too short and superficial.

For each of the claimants addressed the author goes into a brief history of either that particular royal family or its throne. That is where its brevity and its superficiality are its downfall. The history of these families and their thrones are often complex, and despite the fact that I was already familiar with the material, it was often delivered in a manner that was confusing. In the process of trying to cram many years of royal history into small chapters a great deal of information is omitted that would clarify the events that are described within. For example, in many royal families there are often members of different generations and lines with the same name. The author dose not distinguish clearly whom they are referring to at times. For someone who does not have a strong grasp of the genealogical information that could be confusing.

I also did not learn anything new about the claimants to the vacant thrones. I have had particular interest in the Hohenzollern family which used to occupy the thrones of Imperial Germany and Prussia. But once the history of the Prussian royal family was expounded, I learned nothing new about the claimant H.R.H. Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia. In fact there was a great deal of information that was not included. First of all, it elaborates nowhere in the book that since the 1919 constitution of the Weimar Republic all former German royalties no longer legally obtain their titles. Their former titles have been regulated as a part of their surnames. In Germany the claimant is legally known as Georg Friedrich Prinz von Prussen. But despite the German law, much of it is ignored and the former titles of the German royals are used socially. Also, the book does not tell you that H.R.H Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, in his position as head of the Prussian royal family, has attended many state occasions within Germany with the full cooperation and support of the German Chancellor.

The maps are indeed amateurish and the genealogy charts are simplistic. If you are someone who is new to the subject of royalty then this book could give you some basic information. But if you are a student of this subject who already has knowledge about formerly reigning monarchs then this book will be a disappointment.

1-0 out of 5 stars Decent overview, but too shallow
Just finished Olga Opfell's ROYALTY WHO WAIT, and was not very impressed.The book does a good job providing a brief overview of the various European royal families, but that is about it.

I purchased the book primarily for the historical context in which these families lived.It provided very limited historical context, little of which was useful if one is trying to better understand the life and times of these families.

The book describes various kingdoms that no longer appear on modern maps, but the maps provided are very poor.They need to be overlaid against a map of modern Europe so as to put these kingdoms in context, but they were not.

The organization of the book is also hard to understand.For example, the book lists two Royal Houses of France, and one Imperial House of France.The author made these discussions in three different chapters, but there was no continuity between the three chapters.More detail on how one family was deposed and how the next one was installed would have provided better continuity.

The family trees provided could also use some additional detail.Ms. Opfell concentrated only on the Head of the Houses.To make them more useful, the trees should have included children, siblings, and parents.Again, additional detail would have been helpful to understand the various Royal houses and how they are related to other Royal houses.There were alot of marriages between a prince of one house and a princess of another house, and thus the various royal families are related - but it was impossible to understand this from the family trees provided.

There was also alot of talk about the British Royal Family, and how some of the various deposed Houses are related.Ms. Opfell made briefs mentions that some houses were related to the British royal family, but provided no additional detail.

The discussion on the Russian Royal Family seemed to contradict the conclusion of THE FLIGHT OF THE ROMANOVS by John Perry and Constantine Pleshakov.Both books agree that Romanov family is complex with various claims.It was interesting to note that the person supported by Olga Opfell was rejected by Perry and Pleshakov.The Perry and Pleshakov book is a much better book if one wants to understand the Romanovs.The detail is much greater and is thus a more satisfying read.

Sorry to be so negative on ROYALTY WHO WAIT.It was just too shallow on too many fronts. ... Read more

15. Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine: A Biography of the Black Prince
by Richard Barber
Paperback: 330 Pages (2003-02-21)
list price: US$37.95 -- used & new: US$24.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 085115686X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Edward, prince of Wales and Aquitaine, known as the Black Prince, is one of the legendary figures of English history, victor of three great battles and a model of chivalry and courtesy. Behind this image, which many of his contemporaries accepted and eagerly believed in, it is difficult to get at the realities of his character and of the life that he led. Most of his biographers have based their work on the splendid vision of chivalry conjured up by Froissart, but the present book deliberately shuns this approach, to see what can be found in official records, particularly from the prince's household and those who campaigned with the prince. Special attention has been paid not only to the confusing and confused accounts of the great battles, but also to the prince's early years, his close companions who contributed so greatly to his successes, and to his government of Aquitaine, an obscure but very important part of his career. A number of minor but persistent errors in early histories, deriving from Froissart, are corrected. A concluding chapter examines how the legend of the Black Prince (and his curious nickname) came into being. By separating the image and the reality, a clearer picture of the prince emerges. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Medieval fun
Richard Barber's biography of the Black Prince is the best of its kind. It gave a informative insight into a man who can not easily be analyized because a legend has built up around him in the last 650 years. But Barber did his best, and his best was surely enough.

First off is the looking into of the Prince's childhood. In all the books I've read on him, Barber's account of the young prince's childhood was the most detailed account of the household, and it clearly showed the Prince's upbringing as a war leader: he had horses by the age of four and armor by the age of seven. This is clearly a preview of his later military success.

Another thing Barber brings across is the relationship between the Prince and his father, Edward III. It showed a great father son love/respect for each other. It is also a huge impact on the Prince's career; he learned everything from his father, from warfare to leadership. Hugely important, and Barber clearly makes the relationship known.

I particularly liked the battles: Crecy, Poitiers, Najera, and Limoges were very well descriped. Barber has a talent for writing an account of a battle that really takes you back to the battlefields of the Prince's incredible victories. Another thing about the battles is that Frossait is absent from the records, usually. Barber cleary states that he doesn't use Frossait's chronicle is that it doesn't present the facts in a scholarly way, but in story form. Good move for Mr. Barber.

This book is very detailed and an incrediable good study and biography of a famous legend of someone like the Black Prince

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent material, if a bit dry
If you're looking for an upbeat, easy-to-read history of Prince Edward, look elsewhere.This is definitely NOT the book for you.

If you are looking for a book that details the life of a great leader, and digs deeply into the machinations behind the events of his times, this is definitely the book to get.

So, point of the review:Armchair historians beware!This is a deep, quite dry history of the Black Prince. ... Read more

16. Henry VIII (Penguin Classic Biography)
by Jasper Ridley
Paperback: 496 Pages (2002-05-30)

Isbn: 0141391243
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This work offers a fresh look at the character and political cunning of his much-discussed, notorious, and fascinating subject. Henry, a man of fundamentally conservative views and narrowly selfish aims, was led, almost against his will and mainly by events, to introduce the Reformation in England and revolutionize the structure of English government and society. Henry's ministers and underlings, while aiding and abetting his establishment of an absolute dictatorship, found themselves again and again the instruments - and frequently the victims - of his iron will. Henry deliberately and cleverly fostered divisions between protestant and catholic factions in his government in order to keep them all in a state of confusion, eager to win his favour. His shrewdly unilateral and seemingly inconsistent responses to changing events led him to change violently the religion, politics and diplomacy of England in ways that were to his advantage, but not always to his liking. The author shows that Henry, far from being the gluttonous libertine of popular reputation, was rather an extremely perceptive, aggressive, and merciless monarch. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Bio of Henry VIII
Sometimes appearances can be deceiving.When I first received this book and saw how HUGE it was (and in small print, yet), I thought I was in for a long, tedious and boring read.In other words, the kind of book that you start but it becomes harder and harder to keep reading until you finally give up way before the ending.

To my surprise, this book engrossed my attention from day one and became impossible to put down.Jasper Ridley has done a masterful job of giving us a very detailed biography of one of the most memorable kings in history.Unlike so many other books about Henry, Ridley refuses to monopolize the subject matter with sensationalistic details revolving around Henry's wives.Instead, he concentrates on the much more important religious, political and social aspects of his reign.

I think this book captures the true essence of Henry VIII--a tyrant, selfish, arrogant, and demanding.A person who in almost every instance was able to manipulate people into doing his dirty work for him.An individual who could play tennis with a subject he considered a "friend", such as Thomas More, and then easily have this bosom companion executed without nary a shred of remorse whenever it would serve Henry's advantage to do so.One of Henry's most popular practices was to sail the Thames surrounded by women and fawning courtiers while a former close advisor, friend etc. was being executed.This king was a master of disguise, making it appear that he had little or nothing to do with distasteful events and absenting himself from the controversy at hand.

The author mentions early on that, in effect, while gazing at the famous Holbein portrait of Henry VIII in all his glory, people were mesmerized by the majesty as portrayed in the painting. What they did not notice were the hard, unfeeling and pig-like eyes that were barely visible in the already bloated face. If the eyes indeed are the "windows of the soul", Henry was a very cruel individual indeed.

Although his reign was extremely productive in many ways, such as his interest in solidifying England as a naval power, the most striking aspect is, of course, the religious break with Rome.Here too, Henry waffles back and forth as the winds blow.To say this was an achievement is merely subjective; it began a period of intense religious misunderstandings which resulted in the deaths of untold innocent people who refused to accept this or that form of religious belief and worship.As such, I cannot classify Henry's break with Rome as a positive issue.I am not religious, and therefore perhaps not qualified to judge this.But the results of this action are being felt well into modern times.It is a subjective issue as to whether this extreme action on his part set his country and Europe on the right course.

As initially stated, do not be put off by the size of this book.It will engage your attention and provide a picture of Henry (essentially minus the much touted wife leaping) that probably comes closest to what this famous monarch was actually like.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ridley is a genius
Yet again, J Ridley takes the reader on a remarkable journey, guiding you through the maze of factual background without ever letting your hand go. His mastery of the English language and notable training as a barrister make him the best narrator of the century.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Ridley is brilliant as ever. In his masterly style, he portrays both historic detail and periodic insight in such manner that the reader is captivated from the first page onwards. The ongoing battle with Lady Antonia Frazer's biography is a delight (especially when historical inaccuracies in her biography are condemned to footnotes). A book one cannot put down for a single moment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography of a ruthless king
Jasper Ridley's bio of Henry VIII, if nothing else, suggests to me that executioners must have had a steady employment during early 16th-century England.In Ridley's biography, England's formative king is essentially a psychopath, and the country became Protestant, not because of any doctrinal attachment to the Reformation, but as a consequence of political machinations and goals on Henry's part.This, in fact, is one of the book's great strengths; Ridley is rare among biographers in his thorough attention to and excellent summary of the thicket of political events surrounding Tudor England, and this book does an excellent job of explaining these intricacies.Especially fascinating was the depiction of the conflict between Henry and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.Henry would have probably gotten the papal annulment that he wanted to dissolve his marriage to Katharine of Aragon, if only Charles had not effectively controlled the pope and been such a bitter enemy of Henry's; then Henry would have found no need to break from the Catholic Church, and history would be entirely different!For a Renaissance monarch, Henry seems more to resemble one of the 20th century's bloodthirsty dictators in this book.While the depiction initially surprised me, Ridley backs up his claims with such excellent documentation and use of primary sources (which I was able to check), that he definitely has a point!A fascinating bio.

5-0 out of 5 stars Henry VIII-a ruthless tyrant
Ridley paints a picture of a King who is as ruthless a tyrant as any 20th Century dictator.Henry VIII is shown as a ruler who forced his ministers to do his bidding and then executed them to satisfy public opinion, once his policies began to loose popular support.He would stop at nothing to get what he wanted, including breaking with the Pope in Rome and reforming the Church in England with him as the head, when the Pope refused to grant him an annulment from his wife, who could not give him a male heir.Thereafter, Henry played Protestant and Catholic factions against each other, so that he could remain in complete control as an arbiter; alternatively burning influential Protestants as heretics and Catholics who refused to recognize him as Supreme head of the Church of England as traitors. Ridley's picture shows us a king who would stop at absolutely nothing to get what he wanted, including turning society and 1000 years of religion completely upside down!A fascinating look at the Stalin of the 1500s! ... Read more

17. King: A BIOGRAPHY (Blacks in the New World)
by David Lewis
Paperback: 481 Pages (1978-08-01)
list price: US$37.00 -- used & new: US$5.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0252006801
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18. The Queen Mother: The Official Biography (Vintage)
by William Shawcross
Paperback: 1168 Pages (2010-11-16)
list price: US$22.50 -- used & new: US$15.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400078342
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

The official and definitive biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: consort of King George VI, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, grandmother of Prince Charles, and the most beloved British monarch of the twentieth century.
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon—the ninth of the Earl of Strathmore’s ten children—was born on August 4, 1900, and, certainly, no one could have imagined that her long life (she died in 2002) would come to reflect a changing nation over the course of an entire century. Vividly detailed, written with unrestricted access to her personal papers, letters, and diaries, this candid royal biography by William Shawcross is also a singular history of Britain in the twentieth century.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fair book about a great woman
I don't disagree that this book is not a great revelation about the whispered secrets of The Queen Mother. But it did answer something that I wanted to know: This woman was beloved on a level that few have attained in our lifetime. I loved her, and I am not a Brit. But I had an incomplete understanding about WHY she was so loved, even by me. In reading this book, I found the answer.

As one of the youngest in a large family with loving parents, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was a gentle and happy spirit. Her home was used as a hospital during World War I. This loving but difficult upbringing nurtured in her the spirit that showed through all her future endeavors. It trained her well for a job she never thought she would have: Queen of England, during war and peace. Her strength and leadership during WW II was amazing. She never did what others expected she would do, but ALWAYS did the right thing.

This book's flaws are many, but I was happy to read it and, in so doing, to come to love her even more.

2-0 out of 5 stars Ponderous and choppy
To say this biography is ponderous is an understatement.It reads like a factoid sheet rather than the gripping, fascinating story it could have been.If you want to know the color of the picnic basket used one summer when the Queen Mum was thirteen, then this is the book for you.It seems that almost each sentence in the book is footnoted and because of this endless stream of factoids, the book reads more like a data sheet of endless trivial facts rather than the romantic, enchanting story it is.I had to put it down for good after 150 pages.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Fact Sheet, but little real spirit
Since Wm Shawcross was 'invited' to write the biography, I knew before I read it that it would be written
to please the Royal family.There is nothing wrong with that, but Mr. Shawcross' book reads more like a
laundry list of facts and dates than a humane portrayal of a live human being who made a tremendous mark
on British history. It is true that dates and historical events set a framework, but Elizabeth does not
seem to 'come alive'--nor does her husband, George VI, and that is a shame.I've studied the pair from
other biographies, and both George and Elizabeth had a deep love for their family, their country, and for
their God, which is evident in other studies, but not this biography.I hoped for better.But as a study
guide for world events--the World Wars, the economic crises, etc., this is a helpful read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Doesn't capture the spirit of the Queen Mother
This was a very detailed and well researched biography of the Queen Mother, and unlike Hugo Vickers's biography, the author follows a the timeline of the Queen Mother's life instead of jumping from one period of her life to another as Mr. Vickers had done.

However, this biography lacks one important detail in order for it to be a truly great biography; the author failed in my opinion to capture spirit of the Queen Mother within this biography. If he had done that this biography would have been right up there with Christopher Hibbert's biography of Queen Victoria or Sarah Bradford's biography of King George VI; instead due to his failure the biography in the words of another reviewer is "like a sleeping pill."

4-0 out of 5 stars QUEEN MUM
This lengthy tome is definitely for anglophiles and/or those curious about royalty.If the Queen Mum was all the book says she was, I salute her memory.Some parts of the book you may want to skip, such as the lists of her charities.But all in all it is a fine read and evoked pride in the way some of us want it to be.Now. ... Read more

19. The Prince and His Lady: The Love Story of the Duke of Kent and Madame de St Laurent (Goodread Biographies)
by Mollie Gillen
Paperback: 322 Pages (1985-01-01)

Isbn: 0887801390
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In keeping with the practice of the 18th century, Edward Augustus, son of George III and the Duke of Kent, commissioned a friend to find him a mistress. From this unpromising and unromantic beginning grew his 27-year-long love affair with Julie de St Laurent.

Edward was sent to command the garrison at the British naval base of Halifax, and Julie went with him. Together they spent many happy years there and in Quebec City. The Duke inscribed his devotion on the landscape at his estate near Halifax, where walks were laid out to spell "Julie", and a heart-shaped pond was dug as a testament to their love. When the only heir to England's throne died, however, the Duke's duty to make a royal marriage and produce more heirs was clear. He and Julie parted, though he continued to concern himself about her well-being and financial stability.

As it turned out, Edward was successful and the future Queen Victoria was born from his royal marriage. Edward died not long afterwards, leaving behind him several fine public buildings in Halifax as monuments of his time in that city.

The Prince and His Lady is both a moving love story and a fascinating portrait of the social life of Canada's early history. ... Read more

20. Victoria an intimate biography
by Stanley Weintraub
Paperback: 716 Pages (1992-10-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$4.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452269792
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A major biography of Queen Victoria--the first complete life of her in over twenty years--and the first to be written by an American. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars No, no, no!
Very, very detailed account of the life of Queen Victoria. I appreciate the author's effort, but this book is a failure!

This book TRIED to be a political AND intimate biography but it just didn't work. The reader is overwhelmed with minor details about the politics of Victoria's reign without getting the big picture. All the details are wonderful, but the author writes in such a confuzing manner that it's hard to follow everything. In the end, we are left with a vague idea about the events of her reign.

There was an alarmingly small amount of information on Victoria's personal relationships. I don't know what else to say because I honestly can't recall learning anything new! Stanley ignored Victoria's family and it makes for horrible reading.

Honestly, this book is a very boring read. Do not waste your time even trying to consume and understand this "intimate" biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars An intimate look at Britain's most famous queen
The author does an excellent job of detailing Queen Elizabeth's life, from girlhood to her death. Throughout the book are the Queen's own letters, furthing our insight into this dynamic female ruler. After finishing thisbook, I felt as though I knew Her Royal Highness personally! ... Read more

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