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King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led The World To War

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  786 ratings  ·  76 reviews
During the last days of July 1914 telegrams flew between the King, the Kaiser and the Tsar. George V, Wilhelm II and Nicholas II, known in the family as Georgie, Willy and Nicky, were cousins. Between them they ruled over half the world. They had been friends since childhood. But by July 1914 the Trade Union of Kings was falling apart. Each was blaming the other for the im ...more
Unknown Binding, 432 pages
Published 2007 by Not Avail (first published 2006)
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Queen Isabella by Alison WeirNicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. MassieThe Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia FraserCatherine the Great by Robert K. MassieEleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
Oh, Royalty...
51st out of 235 books — 61 voters
War and Peace by Leo TolstoyNatasha's Dance by Orlando FigesKing, Kaiser, Tsar by Catrine ClayAlix and Nicky by Virginia RoundingThe Court of the Last Tsar by Greg King
Russian Reads
3rd out of 44 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,965)
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A solid joint biography, although near the end the author gets the chronology mixed up and even some of the characters. It is a tale full of irony and tragedy.

Clay's book is an intimate family history of power, war, intrigue, and tragedy. She tries to tell it chronologically, but I don't think this helped the story much. She can also get a little repetitive.

From reading the book, it seems all of these monarchs were way unfit to rule global empires, but, then again, many of their own bureaucrats
Cadi Putnam
This is an excellent book on King George V of England, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Wilhelm II of Germany and how their personal relationships affected the events leading up to World War I. The author uses personal diaries and letters from all three leaders that were made public by Queen Elizabeth II.
The family history of these three leaders is fascinating and complicated and would be a compelling read even without the fact that their family drama played out on the world stage. Drawing on thei
Jill Hutchinson
This book traces the lives of the three royal cousins who shared responsibility, to various degrees, for the horror that was WWI. Excellent research and the availability of personal correspondence among the three provides the reader with an in-depth profile of each King, Kaiser and Tsar. George V of England (Georgie) was a simple and unassuming King who had no great intellect and was happier with his stamp collection and his family. Tsar Nicholas (Nicky) was "weak as water", dominated by his bit ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: finished-reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wow, talk about a royal family! This was such an interesting read for me. I am amazed by the web of politics woven by this one family.
I expected this to be more pop history and less History, but it was really enjoyable, just a little tough to get through when I wasn't in a thinking mood (I also had a very hard time keeping track of all the members of all the royal families). But it was an enjoyable read, well-researched and thorough and utterly fascinating in the way it looked at how the personal relationships in the European monarchies led in large parts to World War I. Worth a read if you're a European history of that era bu ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It brought together bits and pieces of history I knew about WWI and put everything together. It was fascinating to see the interrelatedness of the royals across Europe. I knew that existed but not to the extent that it did exist. I really learned.
The author repeats herself which I found annoying, but that was probably in an effort to remind the reader of particular points. In general, I found the book easy to read and follow.
Lame book. No cultural stuff or anything, just Queen Victoria bitching about how her children and grandchildren are being raised. Lame.
This is an absolutely fascinating look at the three royal cousins, George V of England, Wilhelm II of Germany and Nicholas II of Russia (Georgie, Willy and Nicky) told mostly through their letters to one another from their youth through the start of World War I. While the war can't be completely pinned on just these three men, it is true that Wilhelm and Nicholas were absolute monarchs who bear the final responsibility for their actions and inactions. Wilhelm is presented as a severely emotional ...more
This is a good book, but not a wonderful one. I've been interested in Nicholas II ever since reading Massie's Nicholas & Alexandra. One of my main reasons for reading King, Kaiser, Tsar was to learn more about how and why George V abandoned Nicholas (his counsin) and his family in Russia whereas he could have given them asylum. But whereas Clay talks a lot about Wilhelm and all the details of his reign, and of course about George, she talks much less about the Russian cousin. She hardly give ...more
This book was pretty good. I really enjoyed the first third or so about the childhood and background of the 3 rulers. Some of the political stuff later really kind of bored me, especially about the Kaiser's entourage. The foreshadowing of WWI on so many of the actions of the cousins was fun to see. I personally am more interested in the family dynamic than the political, so I wished there had been more about George V's and Wilhelm II's family once they had their own (Nickolas' was covered since ...more
Themes: family, duty, royalty, loyalty, education, politics, religion, patriotism, jealousy
Setting: Europe 1880s or so until 1919

This book is about three European rulers who were all caught up in World War I. But what makes it interesting is that the book focuses not on their politics, but on their relationships - the three men were cousins, all descended from England's Queen Victoria. George V of England, Tsar Nicholas of Russia, and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany were roughly contemporaries and all
April Helms
This was a fascinating read into the lives of the three men who controled about half the world at the start of World War I: King George V of Great Britain, or "Georgie", Kaiser Wilhelm II, or "Willie" and Tsar Nicolas II, or "Nicky." The stories of their upbringing are largely told through their letters and the letters of their royal relatives. My predominate thought while reading this: I am soooo glad I am a commoner. The politics of the time are mind-boggling, especially when you consider that ...more
May 03, 2012 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: history
This is a good book to read if you are a royalty buff or someone who has a fasination with World War One history. In this case, the author looks at three men who either helped or hindered the countries they lived in before this War.

I enjoyed the book, and it is a good addition my my bookcase. However, I didn't like the feel of time jumps I got when reading this. I was able to get passed this but it is something that bothered me at times. Overall I did learn a lot of new information about this Wa
Normally books don't take me this long to read, but this was one of those books that had to be sipped and savored instead of consuming all at once, at least for. There was so much going on and so many people, I read it a little at a time to make sure that I got everything straight.
It was a great book about the three cousins: Nicky, Willy and Georgie.
Also it was hard to read in some areas: the blatant stupidity of some of the royals who them they're better than everyone else yet you don't see mos
Read this a while ago. It's a great book that gets into the heads of three leaders that eventually went to war with each other. Nothing's more dramatic than a family feud! Good background info for the causes of Wold War I.
I love history, and especially love Russian history. I have read my fair share of books on the Tsar Nicolas and his family, so I was happy when I found this book at local library's sale for $1! I find that most books on the topic are a bit redundant. This one wasn't. I learned a lot about the three cousins I did not know, and it is well-written. The author used a lot of family letters in the text, and did her research well. It covers a topic not written about except in generalities in most other ...more
3/13/10 This was a great book for me to gradually expand my horizons beyond the history of Imperial Russia and helped me to see things from the British/England and German royalty's persepectives up until the first World War. The expllinations for the war were easily explained through each Reich's side and why surrounding countries and the United States chose to get invloved or not. The histories of each Royal person were told simularily by the author comparable to a fairy tale, with good flow an ...more
I might have known that Wilhelm, Nicholas and George were cousins, but no other book I've read about WWI focused much on that fact. So, this was interesting in its speculations on how their familial relationships and rivalries did or did not contribute to the onset of the war. Also interesting to read about the inter-connectedness of historical forces, rather than from the usual limited perspective of a single country's history. In other words, helps you to understand why on earth a Serb assassi ...more
An interesting commentary on the twisted family linkages and personal relationships of the European royal families in the 19th century and up to the conclusion of WWI. I enjoy these types of books because they inspire me to read more about historical figures discussed in the text. Queen Victoria, the "supernatural" machinations of the Russian royal family, Count Phillip zu Eulenburg and the sensational Imperial German homosexual trials of 1907... yeah, I've got a lot more books to find.

Oct 24, 2007 Sera rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who history (non-fiction)
Shelves: non-fiction, own
This book is an well-researched, interesting read. The author uses letters and other historical facts to paint a vivid portrait of how the personal lives of three world leaders, who also happened to be cousins, carried over into the political arena, and ultimately, WWI. I have read many books about Nicholas II, but this book gave me the chance to learn about George and Wilhem, his two cousins, who each had a much different result regarding their roles in the war.
Jen Featherstone
I loved this book. Access to unpublished letters and papers meant there was more insight to the three protagonists. It was simply written but did not "dumb-down" the story.
I have read a few books about G V & Nicky but nothing on the Kaiser and I think this was a good introduction to his life story.
I definitely recommend this book, would be a great read for those taking an interest in WW1 with the centenary of the commencement coming up in less than a year.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I remember the 10 grade history class I took. I remember why, even if they did have treaties, did Russia, Germany, and England get into a huge war that neither three of them, really started. My teacher could not give me a straigt answer and repeated what she had said about Franz Ferdinand.

A while later |I came across this book, read what it was about and said "YES!" to myself then bought it

I am not done with it yet, more to come
Mick Maye
Story of the 3 leaders of state. Interesting the family connections between them and the feeling that the First World War was a family squabble. Enjoyable book especially the personality and character of the various leaders and how they handled adversity. From George's shunning of the Tsar, Willy's vanity and the Tsar's vascillation. Normally I avoid books on the Royalty; especially the British royalty, but this book is fascinating.
Great book! It is amazing to think that one woman, Queen Victoria, could really be the blame for the world as we know it today! Her three grandsons clearly made it so. This is the story of King George V (Georgie), Kaiser Wilhelm (Willy), and Tsar Nioholas II (Nicky). These three cousins (and the nations they represented) began World War I. As we all know, nearly everything in this world, politically speaking, stems from that war.
Augusta Carolina Maria
This was a really well-written book that went into the upbrings and interactions of these three pivotal royals. It was interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes family interactions and how they interacted with their populations. The line between family and national leadership was blurred, and led to personal as well as international disaster.

I did read the Kindle version, which could use some proof-reading...
Very interesting and informative book about the King (George V of Britain), the Kaiser (Wilhelm I of Germany) and the Tsar (Nicholas II of Russia). They were all cousins, two of them grandsons of Queen Victoria. The books seeks to show that the relationship between the three was a cause of WWI. I agree. It seems to me that the Kaiser and his war-crazed, Prussian advisers were the most to blame.
this was a great was non fiction, so there was lots of information and facts...and I learned a lot about the history of Eurasia leading up to WWI. However, as there were letters and anecdotes from the family members, it made it an enjoyable story. Once you get the Alexanders, Alexandras, Georges, Alberts and Nicholases's definitely worth the read.
I liked this book, though it read a lot like a gossip column at times and was disorganized. The parallel biographies of the three men is effective, however, and really works the angle of how their personal conflicts played out on the world stage, leading to war and political upheaval.

I might buy a copy just to get the dozen pages of pictures in the middle.
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