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The Decline and Fall of the House of Windsor

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The New York Times bestselling biographer of Marilyn Monroe and Alfred Hitchcock tells all about the world's most fascinating royal family. From the days of Queen Victoria to the current troubled reign, the entire Windsor tapestry, threaded with crisis and haunting scandal, unfolds here. Presented with candor, wit and compassion, this is a surprising portrait of a family t ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published September 1st 1996 by Pocket Books (first published November 3rd 1995)
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I include myself among the throngs of people who have moderately enjoyed the ups and downs, and comings and goings of the royals of Great Britain, and took up this book to see if there was something fatal that some of those royals had done that would warrant a title and judgment such as Decline and Fall. With the marriage of William and Catherine (Kate), and the birth of their son Prince George, I figured this author was a bit overly pessimistic about the House of Windsor. He didn't in fact conv ...more
Jennifer Gelert
I have always been a fan of British History. From The Tudors, then the Stuarts and now the Windsor's. I was surprised to read of Victoria's children and the lives they led. Without the press hounding every move they made, they led lives that were just as bad as today's royals. It seem there was always this idea that royalty was more moral than the common man. To know that several of the children had numerous affairs, had drinking problems and parent issues helps explain some of the problems of t ...more
It is necessary, when reading this book, to do so with a very large grain of salt. Because only then does one have the tools with which to attempt to reconcile its greatest disparity: it is a book about the British monarchy, written by an American author.

Not, of course, that that should preclude Mr. Spoto from writing an objective, thorough, and well-researched and fascinating tale - in theory. And, perhaps, in the hands of a more able writer, that is exactly what this book would have been. Inst
p. 362: "The fact was (and remains) that the British monarchy canonizes the most entrenched system of arbitrary social stratification and class distinction in the developed world. Openly representing rank and privilege in an era committed to democracy and the triumph of classlessness, the Crown stands for the class system, for the right of inherited wealth and status. The monarch embodies not so much the aspirations of a people but the aristocracy itself - all the terms and hierarchies that once ...more
It's hard to agree with the reviewer who called the Windsors "ordinary", as they are a family in a family business like no other. Plenty of honest history and trashy scandal made this a fast read. The book was published before what the present Queen termed her "annus horribilus", but there are plenty of rattling skeletons from previous generations, including how the British royalty refused to allow Nicholas and Alexandra an escape from their persecutors in revolutionary Russia.

I wouldn't cite it
Nov 03, 2007 Phillip rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: royal watchers
I had no intention of reading the whole book, but somehow got caught up in it. It is a revelation as to just how appallingly mediocre this family really is. At the same time, one cannot help but feel sorry for those trapped into life as a "royal"- unable to pursue any personal happiness, encased in an antique system of ceremony, forbidden by law to marry anyone not approved by Parliament, every move lived in the glare of a public light that demands a perfect British family yet forbids any sembla ...more
Jessica Gettel
Skims over a great deal. Bounces around in time, does not include a family tree or any photographs. He rarely cites sources, so the book is borderline fiction. Also, the author could have put the thesaurus down! He over complicates the book by using antiquated phrases and unnecessarily large (and again outdated) words and terms in an attempt to make the book seem well written. I'm sure there are many other books that do the job of providing a history of the British monarchy without being so conv ...more
Loved the details about the monarchs prior to Elizabeth II but not so much the newer stuff.

I think because there has been so much media coverage particularly since the 1980's that some of the information feels less believable than the information from earlier periods.

There was obviously quite a bit of research gone into the book but like every book of this type you need to take some of it with a grain of salt.
I was looking for an overview of the Windsors, and this book was perfect. I have a better understanding now of "who was who". The most interesting part of the book for me was the account of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's relationship, his abdication, etc. It's one of those stories referred to so often but I never knew much about it.
Jan Sample
Gives great insight to the reasons for the dysfunctional behavior of the royal family members - My heart went out to those who are involved in the "firm"
David Seay
I absolutely loved this book !!! Sat down and read the entire book, could not put it down !!!!
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A prolific and respected biographer and theologian, Donald Spoto is the author of twenty published books, among them bestselling biographies of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Alfred Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, and Ingrid Bergman. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Donald Spoto earned his Ph.D. in theology at Fordham University. After years as a theology professor, he t ...more
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