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Swan King

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  154 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A revealing and detailed biography of one of the most enigmatic figures of the nineteenth century Refreshingly accessible and thoroughly researched, this biography captures as never before the story of Ludwig II of Bavaria. Ludwig is best remembered for his patronage of Wagner and for the fantasy-like palaces he created. The Swan King presents new conclusions on the more u ...more
352 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by I B Tauris (first published January 1st 1982)
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(showing 1-30)
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Apr 14, 2013 Aoife rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, dead-royals
This book gives a good introduction to Ludwig's life. When it comes to the topics that are still a cause of discussion (his homosexuality, his possible mental illness and his death) the author does have certain views on those but also does not fail to mention the things that do not fit 100% with this theory. A somewhat rare treat when it comes to literature on Ludwig.
Mcintoch writes that he only learned about Ludwig because of his fascination with Wagner and it shows. The chapters on Wagner are
Nov 18, 2010 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in preparation for my trip to Bavaria because he is so famous for his architectural achievements, but has also been deemed mad by certain scholars. This book was objective and fascinating. It gave an entire biography of Ludwig from birth to death and I am glad to now add such a rather obscure figure to my repertoire of biographies.
Mar 05, 2010 Natali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really well written history book about a fascinating historical figure! Well organized, well told story, engaging writing. I couldn't ask for anything more from this book!
May 05, 2016 Gort rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm.

The Swan King is a biography of Ludwig II of Bavaria, the king responsible for the building of fabulous castles such as Neuschwanstein, which supposedly served as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland in California. Ludwig was a fascinating character, living more in his mind than in the real world, with an obsession for mythology and the music of Wagner. He didn't spend much time in his capital of Munich, instead s
Jul 27, 2014 Hannah rated it really liked it
My knowledge of German history is just a tad above basic. So when I saw Ludwig II this past April, I was captivated by Ludwig, his relationship with Wagner and the entire mythic, cult built around this one king. I, slowly, began looking for books about him and eventually chose this one -because it seemed to be the best one in English.

In short, this book gives a great overview of Ludwig II and his life. The relationship between Ludwig and Wagner fascinates me. It was much more than simple patron
Aug 08, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this well-researched and detailed biography of Ludwig II. Though short for a nonfiction historical work at around 200 pages, it provided insight into the Bavarian ruler and the time in which he lived. I was drawn to this biography because I thought there must surely be more to Ludwig II than madness and the fevered building of fantastical castles. Explanations (and descriptions) of both are provided in this biography, true, but Christopher McIntosh also explores Ludwig's dreamy, ideali ...more
Sep 05, 2016 Jasper rated it really liked it
Good But Opinionated and dated

Very comprehensive book but with quite a bite of writing and layout mistakes.
What is even worse is the opinion of the author in what should be an objective text. Example: I realize this book was first published in the early 1980's but referring to Ludwig's sexual identity (he might have been gay) as 'a condition' which 'took a hold of him and worsened over time' is quite offensive.

The book has been added to with every reprint so a book published in 2012 should have
Nicki Markus
Oct 29, 2016 Nicki Markus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
I've long had a general knowledge of Ludwig II, but it was really just an overview and mostly in connection with Sissi of Austria, so I was keen to read a biography of the man himself. The Swan King is dated in some ways, being over thirty years old, but it offers an accessible portrait of Ludwig and his times in clear, simple prose that has a story-like quality, making it equally suitable for serious history buffs and the casual reader. Although McIntosh clearly has personal opinions, he offers ...more
Oct 26, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
An easy to digest biography of one of Europe's most enigmatic rulers, the builder of fairy tale castles and the great patron of Wagner and German Opera.

The author's approach to Ludwig's "latent homosexuality" often sounds dated and without a genuine or realistic understanding of sexual orientation, which I could understand in 1950, but the 2012 updates should have sorted that out. But, that is just one stumble in an otherwise intriguing portrait of Bavaria's Mad King/Swan King/Dream King Ludwi
Jade Maitre
Dec 09, 2013 Jade Maitre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read. A very thoughtful and balanced view on the Swan King and his close relationships. I particularly liked how it weighed existing evidence about his life rather than attempting to draw conclusions, as so much of his life remains conjecture despite the evidence. I thought this helped clear the clouds around this tormented and talented individual, and appreciate him for the person he may have been, rather than the myth he has subsequently become. I also felt that the author was ...more
Jun 17, 2013 Carly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The life of Ludwig II was fascinating. Sometimes you can't believe that this was non-fiction. While really fascinating, sometimes the book got bogged down in what was to me uninteresting politics. Some of the politics were so interesting and really important to the history of Germany and the world, but sometimes I had to slog through it. Also, I felt that the author jumped a bit in his timeline, which was confusing.
Samantha Bee
Apr 24, 2016 Samantha Bee rated it really liked it
I went into this not knowing much at all about Ludwig II, so I found this a really interesting read. Good writing, easy to take in, and good use of letters and journals. A little sad at times, particularly towards the end. I do wish McIntosh had made use of further sources, however, because the lack there of always concerns me as far as accuracy goes. But a good biography nonetheless.
Mar 23, 2015 Chrissy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I knew nothing about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, I enjoyed learning such a fascinating story. I had to skim some of the detailed and long letters from various people. The Swan King's letters, however, were riveting.
Jul 06, 2014 Rusty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast paced, high level look into the life of an intriguing personality. Good to get an overview of Ludwig II's life and the events going on around him, but I found myself on Wikipedia after each chapter trying to get more information than the author provided.
Comments coming up...
Åsa Svensson
Mar 17, 2013 Åsa Svensson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcircle
King Ludwig is a very fascination person, so I cannot understand how this book could be so utterly boring.
Blayne Riley
Sep 05, 2014 Blayne Riley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the history.
Lauren Craft
Lauren Craft rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2014
Beth Kiser
Beth Kiser rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2012
April rated it really liked it
Jun 16, 2012
Lizzielulu rated it liked it
Aug 26, 2014
David rated it it was ok
Oct 16, 2010
Charles T. Wilkes
Charles T. Wilkes rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2013
Sanjay Prabhakar
Sanjay Prabhakar rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2015
Heidi rated it liked it
Jan 18, 2011
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Jun 18, 2015
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May 19, 2012
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