OK, here is my advice: if you want to read about the Tudors read this author; read Alison Weir. Read her non-fiction books. They are better than her b...moreOK, here is my advice: if you want to read about the Tudors read this author; read Alison Weir. Read her non-fiction books. They are better than her books of fiction. Weir manages to make all the facts interesting. She is clear and she knows how to tell the story so it reads as fiction, but every little detail is 100% true! You have surely met people who REALLY know their subject; their knowledge enables them to have every fact at their fingertips. They know all the amusing details too. Alison Weir is one such person.
Furthermore I highly recommend the audiobook narration by Davina Porter. The narration was delightful. I never felt I was listening to a stuffy proper English matron. The quotes are not only perfectly woven into the text by the author but also perfectly intoned by the narrator. The quotes of Elizabeth are both wise and beautifully expressed. I loved the book for the quotes.
And boy do I admire Elizabeth I. Talk about a strong woman.... who had a miserable childhood, and really made something of herself!
There are so many books written about the Tudor era. In this one book you get all those other stories clearly, succinctly told. In a fashion that reads as fiction.
I am a beginner on the theme of Tudor history. I believe that the more you know the more you will appreciate this book. I gave the book four stars because I really liked it.That is what four stars is supposed to mean. It is that simple. I believe that if I were more knowledgeable I would have given it five stars. (If you start knowing a lot you can stuff even more into your head…..) I do not mean that to appreciate this book you must have previously read on the topic. No, the opposite is true. This is a wonderful place to start. Why? Because Alison Weir makes Elizabeth's life so darn interesting. You come to know the people, inside and out. You come to care for them. All the men, all the suitors! Poor, poor Elizabeth; she spent all her life with everyone trying to get her to wed someone! She outwitted them all! She was a marvelous person, a strong person and she did this all alone, albeit with great advisors which she had the talent and wisdom to pick. What a leader! (less)
I really liked this, well sort of.... let me explain. My head told me it was good and I could not stop listening, but the narration by Frederick David...moreI really liked this, well sort of.... let me explain. My head told me it was good and I could not stop listening, but the narration by Frederick Davidson displeased me beyond measure. Haughty intonations from start to finish. Read the book. Don't listen to it, as I did. My rating is for the words of the author NOT my impression of it as an audiobook. Let me add that I went to YouTube to listen to the real voice of Winston Spencer Churchill and it was not this disagreeable. In addition the narrator made the mistake of not only using his horrible intonation for direct quotes but also the author's views of what Churchill thought on various subjects. This made it further unclear what exactly was a direct quote and what was the author's view. His women voices made me cringe too.
Still I will insist that I learned a lot. I wanted to know more, so I could not put it down. However this book is not directed toward those who don't have a rather good knowledge of the man and the history of his time before they even pick up the book. You may get lost otherwise. A basic knowledge is assumed.
This book is primarily a history book, rather than a biography. A mere one chapter almost at the end of the immense volume is devoted to his family life and wife and children. He loved his children and enjoyed playing with them. Animals too. He had a country house with some farm animals. He couldn't possibly slaughter or eat any of those animals. I wish the book made the man more intimate, though you do learn of his personality through what he did. It is stated that Victorians, and Churchill was a Victorian through and through, were interested in public events rather than private lives. This book has such a focus.
Churchill's political career up to 1932 is covered in detail. He changed parties twice! He was also an author, an avid statesman and never shied away from unpleasant views. I felt that the book magnificently discussed his role in the Gallipoli disaster of WW1. He often took more blame than was his fair share. I learned a lot about his early life in India and his role in resolving the Irish Free State controversy, and what a horrendous childhood! I believe that having had such a childhood made him determined to see that his own children fared better. I believe his difficult childhood made him into the very strong man that he was, regardless of his numerous mistakes! The similarity between Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt is striking.
This huge tome is only the first of a trilogy. After a breather I will return to the latter two. (less)
Any and everybody interested in the Victorian Era should read this book. Actually this time period and all that it stands for should be called the "Al...moreAny and everybody interested in the Victorian Era should read this book. Actually this time period and all that it stands for should be called the "Albertian Era”! The book explains why. It was so funny. I came to this conclusion and then the author said exactly that. She used the words "Albertian Era"; it is not me that invented the phrase. I feel this is the most important message of the entire book.
People who say they love Victorian literature, they simply have to be interested in the couple that created this life style - based on sexual morality, premarital chastity, conjugal fidelity and yes hypocrisy too. What are all the other adjectives associated with this era? How did these descriptions come to be tied to Victoria & Albert and why? Female submission? Double standards? Straight-laced behavior? Strict protocol? Morality or obsession with morality? And why exactly do we associate this all with hypocrisy and double-standards? Isn't morality good? Victoria and Albert must be viewed together. They had nine children! Look at this couple and you begin to see what the Victorian Era really means, but there are no easy answers. How their life exemplifies the era is extremely interesting. Their lives are interesting. To understand them you need to know of their childhood experiences. Then the reader can consider / debate to what extent we follow what our parents teach us and to what extent we rebel from all we are taught! These are the thoughts that went through my head.
The book is clear. History is made clear; it is simply presented, although occasionally all the details of who is who in this large families gets a bit too much. The events leading up to the Crimean War are fascinating and well explained. Great lines on Florence Nightingale too. Did you know that Albert was the one behind the first scientific world fair? He was the initiator and the man behind the first one - in 1851 in London, in Hyde Park.
The book ended too soon; I wish it had continued to tell more of what Victoria did after Albert's early death, but look at the title. It says clearly what is covered. The title aptly speaks of their relationship - rulers, partner and rivals!
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 the...moreI 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 family disputes are intertwined. I loved learning about Queen Victoria, the three cousins' grandmother. This book whets the readers' interest in numerous other historical figures too, such as Queen Victoria, Bismarck and Vicky, Wilhelm's mother. If you have not read about the Archduke Franz Ferdinand you will need to read other books that focus on him! (I liked The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World. You simply cannot find just one book about all of the people and events leading to WW1!)
The book is well researched. It is filled with many, many quotes that reveal the idiosyncrasies of each character. They are not cardboard figures. The beginning of the book starts with three chapters, each respectively about the childhood of the three cousins. As adults their interactions and others' roles are detailed. The political climate is carefully depicted. What was happening in not only the Balkans but also Africa, Japan and China. Of course, Great Britain under Queen Victoria and her offspring, Russia under Alexander II and III and Germany - all of this is covered. The historical facts are interwoven with family celebrations, marriages, birthdays, shared summers together and deaths. As in any family there are disputes and happy memories. Jealousies, competition and family quirks.This is a book about political and familial tensions. The book covers the time-period from the middle of the 1800s through the war and after the war until each of the cousins' deaths. What happened to Kaiser Wilhelm after the war? It is all here. Of course the Russian Revolution too, Nicholas' abdication and his family's death, Rasputin and Alexi's hemophilia.
I didn't love the book as much in the end as I did in the beginning. Why? I am not quite sure. Maybe it is because I listened to it rather than read it? Let me explain. The narrator, Rosalyn Landor, used one theatrical voice, a gruff "British" male voice, for all the different men. For me, I associated this voice with Wilhelm, but in fact she used exactly the same intonation for all of the quotes voiced by men. I became confused and unsure who was speaking. Is this George or Wilhelm or Nicholas, or in fact somebody else? WHO is talking now? I would have to rewind. (And why did I always assume that it was Wilhelm speaking; he is German!) Usually, I try and rate the written book, but here the narration caused me confusion and affected my appreciation of that written. For this reason it has influenced my rating. The confusion doesn't happen in the beginning of the book; the reader knows exactly who the author is speaking of. I wish Landor had just read the book without adding a theatrical presentation. If she wanted to dramatize the voices she should have used different intonations for the three cousins.
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 Nicholas'. You 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.
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)
Theodore Roosevelt – what a guy!!! A whirlwind . A remarkable individual way, way, way ahead of his time. I recommend reading this book to those of y...moreTheodore Roosevelt – what a guy!!! A whirlwind . A remarkable individual way, way, way ahead of his time. I recommend reading this book to those of you interested in all the details of his presidency AND to those of you who like reading about exceptional human beings. I cannot think of any other person at all similar. You must of course start with the first book of the trilogy: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. This is the second, and I am off to read the third: Colonel Roosevelt. I know they are long, but they are worth it.
Should I list some of the remarkable things Theodore achieved during his presidency? Is that what you want to know? The Panama Canal, the Pennsylvanian coal strike settlement, negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese War and the Moroccan Crisis of 1906 for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the National Conservation Conference and anti-trust legislation, to name but a few. By reading the book you will understand the magnitude of each accomplishment. You will understand how he pulled off these accomplishments and why he chose to do what he did. Who is Theodore Roosevelt? How did his mind tick? Was he brave? Was he moral? Was he impetuous? Yes, yes, yes! Did he make mistakes? Of course! Perhaps Brownsville was one. Read and judge for yourself.
Please read this book. You will be astounded by the exuberance of this man, by his intelligence and his morals. More than just discovering what he did you will discover how this man was under the surface. He is complicated. How could he be both a hunter and a conservationist? How did he balance might versus right, wealth versus labor’s demands? I cannot adequately explain how he looks on African-Americans. I’d have to write a book to explain this accurately, but that is not necessary since you have this book. You end up understanding not only what he did but who he was. Now, in the final book Theodore is off on a safari to Eastern Africa. I will be accompanying him and his son Kermit. What a guy! I don’t want to leave him.
I think this book isn’t quite as good as the first. I wanted to know more about his familial relationships, about his wife and children. There is a bit, but not enough. Maybe that is not the author’s fault. There is little information. Edith was reserved. Letters were destroyed. Privacy was kept. Or maybe I will get this in the next volume? I know that the narration by Nathan Marosz really made it difficult at times to pay attention to the words being read. His voice has a terrible sing-song lilt. He drew out in length the final words of a sentence. Then he pauses; it sounds terribly condescending! In any case the narration is completely inappropriate for Theodore who is known to have bitten off his words, spitting them out in a sharp staccato manner. Marosz mispronounces not only French, but German and even English words too. As you follow the amusing lines of the author, you can hardly appreciate the humor, the narration is so distracting. OK, Marosz did have me laughing, not at the author’s lines, but at the bizarre mispronunciations. Wait till you hear how he says the words liqueur, and Steiff (the stuffed teddy bears) and Slav. There was one French name that I was totally incapable of deciphering. Thankfully, both the first and the third books of the trilogy use the narrator Mark Deakins, and he does a magnificent job. Many times lines were read twice, but this, of course, is not the narrator’s fault. I kind of think it was the narration that made it so impossible for me to really enjoy this book as I should have, but at times I did feel just a little bit bored. My advice? If you cannot get the second volume narrated by Mark Deakins, read the paper book instead! You simply cannot hop over any of the books. They should be read together. (less)