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Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  778 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Beleaguered by scandal, betrayed by faithless spouses, bedeviled by ambitious children, the kings and queens of Great Britain have been many things, but they have never been dull. Some sacrificed everything for love, while others met a cruel fate at the edge of an axman's blade.

Behind the Palace Doors features stories covering every monarch, from randy Henry VIII to reserv
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published June 22nd 2011 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2011)
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May 01, 2014 Mo rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
1 stars

The cover leads you believe that this will be a fun, humorous book. Another case of false advertising… IT IS NOT. It is pretty much straight history, and it reads like Cliff’s Notes.

I think this book would be rather confusing to the neophyte. It bounces around a bit, and is so very incomplete. Luckily, I have read extensively about English history, and was able to "fill in the gaps" where necessary.

I was disappointed to learn nothing new from this book.

Not recommended

Totally enjoyable, a work of non-fiction that read like fiction. Great tantalizing gossip - but factual! One of my favorite revelations-- Charles II's six sons had produced 56 illegitimate royal heirs by the time of Charles II's death. Also of interest to me - the background of Edward VIII(?) abdication tho he had never been crowned - and delighted to see recognition of George VI rising to the occasion. A great review of the history I once may have studied and some I read fictional versions of i ...more
Elisha Condie
This book cracked me up, mostly because it is from my friend who is a royalty FIEND. And I don't mean loving modern royalty and their fashion sense. She loves Henry VIII and all his wives. She's loved them since childhood which I think is just so funny. What would you do if your little girl just wanted to read about British monarchs of the past?

She grew up just fine though, and gave me this book. It's pretty entertaining, I must admit. It goes through 500 years of the British monarchy and giv
I've read many of Michael Farquhar's books. Generally I like them. They are fun little vignettes of history and usually amusing.

This wasn't fun or amusing.

It was a brief summary of the reigns, not vignettes. If he had taken the time to just find interesting stories about everyone, it would have been a good read. Instead, it was tedious and a waste of time.

Now I admit, part of the problem was that I know too much about these kings/ I had heard it all before. Honestly though, I know a l
Brenda Osborne
This book was diappointing. It told me nothing new or fresh (to me anyway). I thought it would be fun, but I was wrong. I don't think you would enjoy this book unless you didn't know anything about The British Monarchy.
Katie Hutchison Irion
I found this book to be thoroughly entertaining and let's be honest, it just made me feel smarter to say I was reading a non-fiction.
This is my type of non-fiction though. It reads like a fiction novel and sometimes I had to remind myself that all this crazy stuff happened. The books talks about the royal families and all the crazy murders, riots, executions, revenge, and really, really bad parents that seem to have worn the crown or wanted to wear the crown. I was fascinated. I mean, this defin
What makes this book so great?'s got sex, adventure, vice, treachery and folly in the title. What's not to love?

No seriously, it's a nice reminder that what you read in the history books is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of these monarchs. Some of it treads upon familiar ground (e.g. the Tudor dynasty) while some were perhaps more surprising as it seemed "new" (e.g. than Hanover dynasty). Chapters on individual monarchs were brief and the sections read more like an ex
There were some chapters which were more interesting than others. If you're looking to read about the current monarch, this book won't tickle your fancy. But for what it is- 5 centuries of royal scandals- it's a really fun read. If not for the fact that these were real people, born into the public eye, you'd think it was the script for a juicy soap opera. If you're interested in the history of the monarch, this does include some family trees, which are helpful given all the repeated names (Georg ...more
Interesting summary of the monarchy from the more famous times to the present. I assume it's all based on facts that have been verified or it wouldn't be non-fiction. There were some things about the monarchy I really didn't want to know. The book was simplistic in some places and in others the quotes and tidbits of history were compelling. Overall, I enjoyed it, but not as much as I would have hoped.
Sera Trevor
A super-fun pop history book. I enjoy history, but don't have the stamina for the more exhaustive chronicles - this was a perfect light read.
Another fun listen on my short 10 minute commute.Something about the foibles of historical figures makes the trek over icy roads more enjoyable.
Jes Lyons
Cleverly written and concisely put together, this book is a must-have for English Monarchy history newbies like myself.
Behind the Palace Doors was certainly a fun read, but it was also a disappointing one. Michael Farquhar is a plucky writer who takes you on a whirlwind tour of British monarchs and the various crises (not scandals) that have beset them for generations. He keeps up the pace, unlike some otherwise gifted royal historians, and keeps a nice balance between assuming you can keep straight dozens of titles and acting as if you need an explanation as to the role of the royal family. I found his antidote ...more
In my current quest to get rid of as many books as possible I finally got to this one. I've read several of the 'scandals of the crown' kinds of books recently and none of them have been great. This one suffers from even less detail than others, though I did appreciate that it focused on ONE monarchy and was (mostly) entirely chronological. I'd read about most of the stories before, but the other books I had read jumped between different countries and I couldn't always keep them straight. And it ...more
I knew quite a bit of the reigns of the different monarchs. Sure, there were little details that I didn't know, more after the Tudor and early Stuart reign. It was interesting, and I liked that I could visibly see some of the sources inserted into the work.
A fun peek into a part of history not many people are aware of. It was fun to see people were as celebrity mad centuries ago as they were then. The author started with the Tudor era and continued all the way until the modern royal family. What stopped this from being a five star book was the length and content of the chapters. Rather then contain one royal per chapter, the author picked and chose which scandels to tell for each person in a series of shorter chapters, which lead to a small amount ...more
Mr. Farquhar has a way of writing history in a very entertaining way. Very funny book. this really cracked me up. take my word for it.
A decent survey of the high points of the reigns, though not in depth due to the brevity of the volume
Non-fiction! Can you believe I did it? But it certainly didn't feel like non-fiction with all the fascinating backstory and intrigue surrounding 500 years of English monarchy. Even the fact that I saw bits and pieces of Will & Kate's marriage today was so much more interesting to me since I now know soooooooo much more about his family tree. So fun and surprisingly easy to'll make you want to go watch every movie made about this crazy family through the ages! (Update...just watch ...more
Brief history of the British monarchy. Easy read and now I will be a better Jeopardy player.
Molly Abel
liked it, but not as much as I thought I would.
I picked this book up mostly because of the great picture on the cover.
The two other Farquhar books I've read (Treasury of Royal Scandals & Treasury of Deception) were more interesting than this. Though the British royals are all crazy in some way, the writing was drier. Farquhar made snarky and sarcastic remarks when writing the stories in the other books and there is plenty of room for those comments when discussing the British royalty, but for some reason he doesn't do that here which made this book a bit boring. Luckily, there are enough nutcases who became ...more
Good grief! Beheadings, adultery, banishments, parents hating children, children hating parents, siblings vs. siblings - the ultimate dysfunctional family! This book offers titillating stories about the English monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II. Some were more interesting than others, and original letters were quoted when available. By the 20th century, the Royal Family (except for wimpy Edward VIII) were behaving with some sense of decorum. It was a fun book to be reading when all eyes w ...more
A decent overview of the history of British monarchy.
Lauren Albert
This was definitely better than the first one I read—a Treasury of Royal Scandals--although it annoyingly repeated a lot of the stories from it (all the British ones, of course). I think it was better because it was more narrowly focused on one country and so could go into more detail. Also, because of that, he wasn’t going after only the lurid stuff—just the normal dysfunctions of royalty! So, you actually get a fair overview of British history by looking at the dysfunctions…Now, what does that ...more
Stephanie Tracy
This was an interesting nonfiction book about the dynasties in England - starting with the Tudors and ending with the current Windsors. This was a fun (though sometimes a bit dull) read about some of the wackiest and most interesting monarchs - though I admit as we've become more current the monarchs get considerably less fascinating. Overall I liked this book - it gave me a little perspective on England's time periods, and that helps many events fall into place in a timeline of dynasties.
From Henry VII to the current Queen Elizabeth, this book covers the scandalous, intriguing, and unusual stories from each of England's monarchs.

I loved the stories, which were written in a very conversational and interesting tone. However, some monarchs have one chapter, and others have several, which sometimes confused me. I also was left wanting more, since the stories were very small peeks into the lives of each of the monarchs, and then skipped to the next one.
Acutually a good book for a history book. You get a lot of dirt on the Royality! Which was pretty hilarious. They book was well-written. The middle of the book got dry for me, and since many of the Royals have similar names, sometimes I had to go back and look to remind myself with King/Queen they were talking about; a little confusing at times. This is not the authors fault, he only had so much to work with! Also, I hate footnotes. So, three stars it is.
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Michael Farquhar, a former writer and editor at The Washington Post, is the bestselling author of numerous books, including the critically acclaimed Behind the Palace Doors and Secret Lives of the Tsars, as well as the popular Penguin "Treasury" series: A Treasury of Royal Scandals, A Treasury of Great American Scandals, A Treasury of Deception, and A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans. He ...more
More about Michael Farquhar...
A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors A Treasury of Great American Scandals A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History's Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes, and Frauds A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans: Pirates, Skinflints, Patriots, and Other Colorful Characters Stuck in the Footnotes of History Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia

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