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George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  2,386 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
In the years before the First World War, the great European powers were ruled by three first cousins: King George V of Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Together, they presided over the last years of dynastic Europe and the outbreak of the most destructive war the world had ever seen, a war that set twentieth-century Europe on course to ...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Knopf (first published 2009)
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Jul 16, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
I have a joke for you: hereditary monarchies.

That’s it. That's the joke.

Of all the ways that man has devised for cornering power, none is as breathtaking as the hereditary monarchy. For centuries, kings and queens have ruled vast nations based solely on the notion that their blood is somehow “royal.” It’s utter wash, of course, as countless failed leaders have proven. There is nothing special about royal blood. It is the same blood as runs through our veins. Except for the hemophilia. The roya
Mar 23, 2010 Eric_W marked it as to-read
OK, I haven't read this book -- I will -- but I was pissed after reading a review. Here's part of a review that demonstrates why I often hate reviews in the NY Times Book Review. Last two paragraphs:

“George, Nicholas and Wilhelm” is an impressive book. Ms. Carter has clearly not bitten off more than she can chew for she — as John Updike once wrote about Günter Grass — “chews it enthusiastically before our eyes.”

You turn this book’s pages with interest, however, but rarely with eagerness. It’s a
Dec 09, 2013 Chrissie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Manybooks
I highly recommend this book. What it does in an exemplary fashion is show the reader who George, Nicholas and Wilhelm were. You learn not only of their actions, but also of there varying temperaments. This is a biography, not a dry history book. It is well researched, and will be fascinating to those of you who want to look at the personalities of these three cousins. At the same time you will come to understand why WW1 occurred; why in fact it was practically inevitable. Political disputes and ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Dorothy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This was brilliant. For anyone interested in the road to WWI this is a wonderful synopsis from the perspective of the exhaustion and decline of autocracy, monarchy and empire. Using the familial relationships among Victoria, Edward, George, Wilhelm and Nicholas Carter pulls the reader into the conflicting pulls on the leading monarchs of their day amid the challenges of nationalism, republicanism, socialism and the last gasps of aristocratic and colonial entitlement. Along the way we are provide ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Grady rated it it was amazing
The Impact of Queen Victoria on History

Queen Victoria of England not only had one of the longest reigns in royal history (her reign of 63 years and 7 months, which is longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history) but her progeny produced leaders in disparate countries that focused on three names in the pre-world War I period - King George V of Great Britain (an India), Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. In a manner of
Aug 22, 2013 LillyBooks rated it it was ok
Oh, families. If you think your family is crazy, you haven't met the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Romanovs. This academic-style text is a discussion of the familo-political interactions from about 1860 that lead to World War I. I left this book thinking that perhaps we could "blame" WWI, not on the Germans, but instead on Queen Victoria. Why? She was the grandmother from hell. She insisted that all of her children were raised in an extremely severe style favored by her husband, Prince Albert; some of her c ...more
Other reviews have noted that there is little new here, but the point of this book is not to bring out new information; It is to explore the origins of World War I from a different point of view. In examining the character of these three cousins, their upbringing and education, their role in the structure of their respective governments and the issues and attitudes of their counties, Miranda Carter shows how they did and didn't influence the course of events that led to The Great War.

The cousins
Nino Frewat
Apr 23, 2015 Nino Frewat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book deserves 5 stars. I took one out because of all the editing the book needs. Pronouns, in particular, confused me as to who was talking to whom, for example, repetitions of appositives and typos.
That little annoyance aside, it was a wonderful read and though it's a history book, I noticed that it had a structure quite similar to a novel with a climax and an ending that, to me, came as a surprise.
I loved reading it because it showed how much those three emperors were in denial and willfu
Nene La Beet
I have taken some time to get through this book, but that is not because it isn't good, just because it's heavy reading so I've taken breaks from it. Nevertheless, it's a riveting account of all the many and varied roads that led to the Great War.
The "Three Emperors" of the title refer to the German Emperor Wilhelm II, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the British king George V. The two former had much too much power for their own good. They were cousins, bound together by blood and the mere fact
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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
May 17, 2010 Susanna - Censored by GoodReads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: Bettie☯
First-class analysis, and really well-written.
Jul 25, 2011 Sweetwilliam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have managed to write a review that is longer than the actual book but I found the subject matter so interesting that it was hard not to talk about it. If you are interested in the monarchs that ruled pre-WWI Europe and how these royal cousins ushered in the war than this is a must read for you. The beginning of the book focuses on Queen Victoria - probably the last effective monarch in England. At the time of Victoria, the English Monarchs still had sway and a veto. In Germany and Russia, the ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
King George V, Tsar Nicholas, and Kaiser Wilhelm were cousins (talk about dysfunctional families). Of course thanks to Queen Victoria everybody was related to each other through blood or marriage. But these three men held the future of Europe in their hands. Fortunately for George, his duties in a constitutional monarchy involved being the figurehead--something he could handle. He and Nicolas were first cousins as their mothers (Danish royalty)were sisters. They looked uncannily alike and people ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-history
A readable history of the royal families of Britain, Germany and Russia in the period leading up to WW I. Carter focuses to some degree on the personalities of King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas, which gives the book an engaging narrative flow, but she also brings in important political movements and events that influenced not only these three "major players" but also public opinion in the three countries. I think it would work equally well as an introduction to the period or as a sou ...more
John E
Jan 04, 2016 John E rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book for the most part. It has a simple thesis: The more your leader is out of touch and coddled the more severe the results inflicted on the followers. Spoiled children without reality are not the ones to run the country: think of Mr. Trump!
Jill Meyer
Mar 01, 2017 Jill Meyer rated it it was amazing
There seems to be a new trend among biographers and historians who are writing biographies-as-snapshots-in-time. Rather than take a long life, and write an exhausting study of the subject, they're taking a relatively small bit of time and concentrate on specific events. Of course, the writer fills in the rest of the subject's life, but not in the same detail. I happen to like books that "specialise". British author Miranda Carter has done this with great flair in her new book, "George, Nicholas, ...more
Jun 16, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
The first time I did my family genogram, I saw family patterns passed down through generations, and the ways that significant family events had life long impact. My mother often tells the story of how she cared for her youngest brother when she was 10 years old. Her mother and older sister were both in the hospital, but her newborn brother was sent home to be cared for by a 10 year old. She says that she and her next two brothers (8 and 6) would get ready in the morning and then take the 3 young ...more
Cynthia Haggard
Sep 17, 2011 Cynthia Haggard rated it it was amazing
I do not usually care for biographies, they often seem to consist of the boring trivia of a person’s daily life. But GEORGE, NICHOLAS, WILHELM: THREE ROYAL COUSINS AND THE ROAD TO WORLD WAR I is different. Miranda Carter deftly weaves together the biographies of the three cousin-emperors who together stood on the brink of the abyss in 1914: George V of England, Nicholas, the last Tsar of Russia, and Wilhelm, the last Kaiser of Germany.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the way in which it
Jan 22, 2014 Dvora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not that this book is so well written, although it isn't bad. It's the story of the three cousins, George V of England, Nicholas II of Russia, and Wilhelm II of Germany that earns my 4-star rating. Carter's book is well researched (I discovered her through watching a BBC documentary on King Edward VII (Bertie, who is far more colorful and interesting than his son George V) although I did notice a few contradictions. Then again, she does much better than Catrine Clay with her encyclopedic bo ...more
May 27, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating triple biography of the three cousin monarchs of England, Germany, and Russia during the final decades of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth. Carter never loses focus on her key subjects, using hundreds of letters to and from the royal families and prominent political figures to paint a very personal and creditable portrayal of the last vestiges of monarchical political influence in Europe. Carter’s writing style is expertly practiced and at t ...more
Nov 23, 2013 Denise rated it it was ok
This is not the book that I'd thought it was when I bought it. I'd read very interesting excerpts from a book on this subject back in high school. I enjoyed the original enough that I'd always wanted to read the entire thing. I realized the mix up about a third of the way through, because what I was after was the relationship of the three cousins as set out by personal letters between them- something along the lines of "Dear Nikki, Love Willie." I'm still looking for the original source of what ...more
Susan Liston
Oct 25, 2014 Susan Liston rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, readable account of the lives of George V, king of England (Edward VII is also a major character) Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas of Russia up until the start of WWI. (it covers the war in just one chapter, made me wish for a sequel) The story is told from the human perspective and the fact that these people were relatives made it all the more interesting and slightly bizarre. So weird to think that skipping a family wedding or not wanting to sit by your annoying uncle o ...more
Nancy Cook-senn
Jun 29, 2015 Nancy Cook-senn rated it liked it
Exhaustive examination of the actions and interactions of Victoria’s descendants as the old world dynasties gave way to the realities of the modern world. Carter reveals just how ill-educated and isolated the royals were, how convoluted and contradictory the machinations of their governments, and how foolish a response to economic and political crises militarism proved to be.
Jun 28, 2016 Claudia rated it it was amazing
Really interesting comparison of events in each country and how they were perceived in the other countries.
Edward Sullivan
Jan 23, 2014 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Fascinating, absorbing portraits of the three imperial cousins, their complicated relationships, and how their ineffectualness as leaders failed to keep Europe from plunging into war.
Jan 26, 2017 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, ww1, victoria
I know commenting on how the King, Kaiser, and Tsar were all first cousins is not exactly a revelation or new--the King and Tsar were practically identical in appearance


but minus the world wide carnage and horrible future implications. They both disliked the attention and annoyance at their closeness in looks, since it frequently happened--even at George's wedding, he was being mistaken for Nicholas and vice versa by the guests. They were very similar in personality and grew close as children wi
Jul 17, 2010 Libby rated it it was amazing
This book is heavy in more ways than one. It is quite thick, suitable for pressing flowers, and is about a very serious subject. It is, however, well worth the effort. In clear, straight-forward style, it examines the effects of the actions and attitudes of three royal cousins on the politics and policies of England, Russia and Germany in the years before the first conflict worthy of the name World War. They lived in a world where empires were still ruled by Emperors, where the will and the whim ...more
Apr 12, 2010 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
Before World War I the belief that monarchs ruled by divine right was alive and well in Europe—at least among the monarchs themselves. George, Nicolas and Wilhelm were cousins who reigned in Britain, Russia and Germany during the years leading up to the war. By the end of the war Tsar Nicolas and his family had been assassinated, and Kaiser Wilhelm was in exile having been forced to abdicate. Interestingly, only the monarch with almost no political power survived the war with his title in tact, ...more
Eustacia Tan
Jan 18, 2017 Eustacia Tan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I'm not sure why, but when I saw this book in the "free books" box, I decided to pick it up. Like the title says, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm is about King George, Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II. Well, actually King George only appeared towards the end - his grandmother Queen Victoria and his uncle King Edward VII ruled for way more pages than him. But these three dudes were cousins so his name goes on the title too.

This is a biography so it is fairly heavy reading. But I found it capti
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Are these the same book? 4 21 Apr 26, 2015 09:51AM  
  • King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led The World To War
  • An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm
  • Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria
  • The Court of the Last Tsar: Pomp, Power and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas II
  • Queen Victoria: A Personal History
  • Victoria's Daughters
  • Michael and Natasha: The Life and Love of Michael II, the Last of the Romanov Tsars
  • Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy
  • Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People's Princess
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story
  • The Flight Of The Romanovs: A Family Saga
  • Nicholas and Alexandra: The Last Tsar and Tsarina
  • Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
  • Vienna 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made War, Peace, and Love at the Congress of Vienna
  • The Camera and the Tsars: The Romanov Family in Photographs
  • Bismarck: A Life
  • Alexandra: The Last Tsarina
Biographer/historian/thriller writer. Also goes under M.J. Carter.
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