I have only read two chapters, but am impressed and totally captivated. The first was on Wilhelm's youth, the second on George's and now comes Nichola...moreI have only read two chapters, but am impressed and totally captivated. The first was on Wilhelm's youth, the second on George's and now comes Nicholas'. Your really feel like you get to know the families of these three cousins. I love learning about Queen Victoria, their grandmother. The author makes their lives interesting and fills the book with interesting facts. There is a lot to learn here. I am even tempted to start over again to hammer into my head more of the details. I do believe that one's personality is largely influenced by childhood experiences. How did these three leaders, (King, Czar and Kaiser) come to be shaped? This author presents the facts in such a manner that the reader wants to know more and more and more and is interested in what is presented; in other words the text is not dry even though it is chock-full with facts.
Impeccable narration by Rosalyn Landor. A delight to listen to. (less)
I am in the middle of moving from one country to another, so I just do not have the time to write a decent review of this excellent, marvelous book! P...moreI am in the middle of moving from one country to another, so I just do not have the time to write a decent review of this excellent, marvelous book! Please, if you are at all interested in either history or amazing people grab this book soon. On closing this book the reader truly understand the atmosphere that swallowed up America during the era of McCarthyism and the Cold War. The reader comes to understand Oppenheimer - his creativity, his imagination and his failings too. The list of the latter is long, but boy do I admire the guy! There is so much I could tell you about this man who I knew nothing about before I read this book, except his label as the the "Father of the Atomic Bomb".
I listened to the audiobook read by Jeff Cummings. I have no complaints with the narration. Read the book or listen to the book. You choose, which ever suits you best. Just don't add it to one of those never-ending lists of books that you don't get around to actually reading!(less)
While I was listening to this book, well narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner, I enjoyed it very much. That ought to mean four stars..... but as I thought...moreWhile I was listening to this book, well narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner, I enjoyed it very much. That ought to mean four stars..... but as I thought about the book later I realized I had some reservations.
It was extremely interesting to learn about the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, assassinated at Sarajevo, the spark that ignited WW1. Learning about the troubles that already existed in the Balkans and the relationships between The Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the Russians was enlightening and thorough. Learning about Franz Ferdinand's morganatic marriage with his wife Sophie was eye-opening. I had never been acquainted with the concept of such a marriage. Wiki defines a morganatic marriage in this way: "In the context of royalty, a morganatic marriage is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage." In this book you see in personal terms the suffering that such a marriage causes.
What we learn about the family is through letters that remain and through the known actions that were taken. The reader does not get a firsthand account of how the characters' thoughts, although you do clearly come to understand how they must have thought given their actions. Still one is not 100% sure.
There is a lot about the splendor of the royalty, about the food eaten the clothing worn and the manners of this class. Even Sophie was of a class that we today would consider posh, but she wasn't good enough for the Emperor's successor
The relationship between Franz Ferdinand and his uncle, Franz Joseph the Emperor, was icy, troubled and complicated. Again, all of this is shown through what each character did to the other, more than what they said to the other. The reader looks on. Somehow I never felt I was in the head of any one of the central characters.
The reason I have withdrawn a star or two, why I enjoyed the book but didn't love it, was this distance I always felt to the characters. I was being told through actions rather than feeling their emotions. In addition I feel the book presents Franz Ferdinand more favorably than is realistic. His positive characteristics are emphasized over his faults. Thirdly, there are questions that the reader has that are not adequately explained. For example, a definition of a morganatic marriage at the beginning of the book would have been helpful. Another instance is why the Nazi's put the couple's children in concentration camps. This could have been more clearly explained. Yeah, you figure it out, but it took me awhile and maybe I have not understood correctly. I wish this had been spelled out more clearly. And perhaps I simply enjoy reading more about the commoners than people of royal status. I just felt a bit uncomfortable with all the posh life style. And the hunting! The sport as it was viewed by Franz Ferdinand, is hard to stomach. But that is who he was and this is a book of non-fiction.
I learned a lot and the book makes you ponder what would have happened had he been killed at a hunting match before he could ever have been assassinated by the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip! And who was behind his assassination? Austrians? All of this is fascinating. (less)