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The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA
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The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,477 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
Royalty, revolution, and scientific mystery---the dramatic true account of the fate of Louis XVII, son of Marie Antoinette, and an extraordinary detective story that spans more than two hundred years.

Louis-Charles, Duc de Normandie, enjoyed a charmed early childhood in the gilded palace of Versailles. At the age of four, he became the dauphin, heir to the most powerful thr
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 18th 2002 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Edith This book is a non-fiction account of the mysterious aftermath of the life of the "lost dauphin."
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Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Outstanding!. . . A real-page turner. . . Full of intrigue. All of the positive cliché book review words apply to this one.

The book’s title is a bit of a misnomer. I thought the majority of the book was going to be dedicated to DNA testing and how it was employed to settle the mystery of what happened to Louis XVII, the eight-year-old son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. However, this topic was brilliantly covered in just the last 50 pages, bringing together the main characters and solving the
Yozzie Osman
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at a charity shop because I was interested in the French Revolution and I hadn't seen much written on Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI's youngest child. I expected it to be a standard piece of historical non-fiction, but I was pleasantly surprised- it was so much more than that. An excellent book that had me hooked from the first page to the last, as engrossing as it is heartbreaking. Reading about the final years of this royal family was fascinating but upsetting; the atrocitie ...more
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this this morning. The book is basically answering the question "What happened to Louis-Charles Capet, son of Louis XVI of France".

The answer is well worth a book-length discussion: the introduction sets up the fact that they're going to look at what new technology (specifically DNA through the maternal line) might be able to tell - but then goes off on a really rather well done explanation of exactly what happened - and why there's confusion in the first place.

Short version: When
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
A very fascinating read! ~
The 'Lost King of France' revolves around a time that can be described as a web of heartache, disaster, and destruction for the royal family. In high school, as you learn about the story of the French Revolution- who seems more innocent? The "evil" royal family who squeezes any trace of livelihood from the people, or the people? I know what you're thinking: The people, duh! However, it's not as it seems. As I read on, I realized something. What I was taught about the Fr
'Aussie Rick'
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book provides the reader with a well-told and well-researched story of the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution and the use of DNA to solve a 200-year mystery. I found it to be a moving account and a well told piece of history which was very enjoyable to read, so much so that I couldn't wait to get to the end of the book to find out did the DNA prove or disprove the story in the book of the tragic end of a little boy caught up in the Terror.

The author’s use of first
Jill Hutchinson
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
This is another book recommended by a GR friend and is simply fascinating. It follows the life of Louis-Charles, son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and the mystery surrounding his fate. Imprisoned in the infamous Temple Tower after his parents were guillotined, he was kept in solitary confinement in horrific conditions and the question of his fate has haunted historians. Rumors have abounded that he was rescued, a substitute child took his place and that Louis-Charles was spirited away b ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book!

It provided a good overview of the life of Louis & M.A. and the events of the French Revolution without getting bogged down into a dry and boring litany of names and dates - Deborah Cadbury kept it interesting the entire way through.

Up until now, all I knew about the history of the French Revolution ended with the execution of Marie Antoinette and the instauration of the French Republican Calendar. I knew nothing about her children and their fate.

Poor little Louis die
Hans Nijs
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A historical real-life story of the horrific fate of Louis-Charles of France.
Although it is about history, this book takes you in it's pages as if it is a literaire roman. I felt really sorry for the fate of this young boy and his family. After reading this book, I visited the place where he was burried after his death. He has a small tombstone, overgrown with moss, at the yard of a small church in a far away corner in Paris, where no tourists or other people come. It is a real tragedy, as was h
Nov 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just couldn't quite get into this historical, identity mystery as I could with Anastasia and the final days of the Russian Royal Family. Overall this was well done and interesting but it didn't grip me. Perhaps it is because the French Royal Family does not have the immediacy of the Russian with its connection to the present day British Royal Family—or the conspiracy theory of why it was in the best interest of the Duke of Edinburgh and his family to suppress the true identity of Anastasia (coul ...more
Page Wench
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, france
Utterly fascinating. I've read a lot about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, so the first one-third or so of the book was an overview of a history I knew well. However, I find new details every time I read about the same subject because every author and every approach is different. The remainder of the book focused on the heart-wrenching details of Louis XVII's treatment during his imprisonment in the Temple, the fruitless investigations to find concrete evidence of his death or escape ...more
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have liked this book a lot more if it was my first time reading about the fall of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. However, I've read so much about this time period that most of the book was a drawn out re-hashing of information I already know well. It took 200 pages to get to the part I wanted to read: how DNA solved the mystery of the murdered son of Louis XVI! Which is the title of the book! And that part felt rushed compared to the plodding pace of the rest of the book!

I must concede,
Delving into the history of the imprisonment of the royal family during the French Revolution, this book exposed me to many details I was not familiar with. While full of details, it is written with more of an engaging, story feel that reads almost like fiction. Be prepared that most of the book is history, and only the last chapter deals with the subtitle of how DNA solved the mystery. I think the book builds perfectly to that resolution, because you really, really care about the outcome at tha ...more
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I usually never enter a book I am currently reading, but this one was on my "ro read" shelf, and I just had to get to it, being one who loves "la belle France." This book is a magnificent, well-researched, and compelling history. I can't wait to finish it and be back to say more. I have been to Versailles several times, and, even though I thought I throughly underststood what happened there, I found out so much more. I still say, "vive la France!"
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Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book about the final years of Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution and the fate of her family. It weaves meticulous historical detail into a mystery thriller of what happened to her children after she faced the Guillotine in 1795.
Anusha kumar
this is an really emotional book! you'll surely cry after reading this one!
Sarah Bierle
A startling and tragic book about the lost prince of France and how his story was rediscovered with the help of modern science.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, favorites
This was an amazing book. I don't understand some of the reviews I read about the book complaining about how misleading the title was. They expected it to be about using DNA to solve if he was the missing prince or not, but I don't see anything in the title to make me think that the scientific process of using DNA to identify a body would be a huge part of the book. I think those people are just whiners. Other reviews gave the book a low rating because it didn't cover enough new areas on the Fre ...more
R Helen
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
Deborah Cadbury's book is incredible! I found it quite difficult to read the unbelievable amount of abuse and neglect this boy suffered. I think most of us are aware of the brutal excesses of the French Revolution. Many innocents died under the cry "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," yet to read the story of the young Dauphin, Louis Charles, is to realize there was an even greater dimension of cruelty and barbarism that these men sank to in their "noble" quest for freedom. It is impossible to read ...more
Vikki Walton
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in history or particularly in French history, then book is for you. Cadbury weaves together her extensive research into a tome that will leave you with no doubt of man's inhumanity to man. It also sheds more light on Marie Antoinette and how her words and actions were constantly twisted. In most history books, we side with the people and the cry of revolution. But this book shows that in any conflict or war, there are always losers on both sides.
Celeste Poz
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well-written and interesting story of history.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fascinating, but I basically had to skim/skip the long, horrible descriptions of the way the little child was mistreated. Too awful.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and sad story brilliantly told.
Blair Stackhouse
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall I enjoyed it, but I think the author spent too much time on the beginning of the French Revolution and not enough on the mystery of the son.
Oct 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book was well-researched and I appreciate that an abundance of sources are noted should one feel compelled to delve deeper into the historical accounts and documentation (including those clearly based upon fabrications).

It is clearly written and easy to understand, though there were many times in which grammatical errors actually did detract from the story being relayed. In some cases, this could be due to translations whereas in others, it was probably just a mistake.

I enjoyed that this
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, biography
Well, this book is confusing with a slightly misleading title. I was expecting a book about the DNA testing of the mystery heart in the royal crypt in Paris and how it was identified as that of Louis-Charles, or Louis XVII, the last Bourbon King of France and son of the infamous Marie Antoinette. What I got was a long discourse on the events leading up to the French Revolution, the imprisonment of the family, and a lot of speculation on how the young king was treated while he was imprisoned befo ...more
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I feel like at the beginning of this book I was dropped into 1770 then fast-forwarded through 300 years. There is so much information skillfully packed into this book! Deborah Cadbury has the gift of relaying all the facts while still keeping the story interesting and the reader engaged. I initially picked up this book after I read Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, a YA fiction retelling of the plight of Louis-Charles (with an additional present-day storyline). After finishing it for the sec ...more
Evelyn Biden
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury completely blew me away. I've been interested in the French revolution for only the past few months, but have read my share of lengthy, wordy, heavy books that my library had in stock. This was the only book that I really, truly connected to. Combining letters and true accounts of the royal family's terrible experiences during the revolution led to an amazing novel. I cried when I read about the mistreatment of the poor Dauphin, Louis-Charles; I felt a ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
While I was browsing the site and clicking on random books that looked interesting, I came across this, with the main entry having How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as its subtitle. The copy I found at my local library instead had the subtitle of A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA. Which makes much more sense to me now, since only the very last chapter (~8%) deals with modern-day DNA testing to clear up the mystery of Louis XVII's ultimate ...more
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Deborah Cadbury's "The Lost King of France," although I would never recommend reading it at night, unless stories of small children being brutalized help one to sleep. Cadbury has a dry, logical style which makes her descriptions of the royal family's descent into hell all the more horrifying. I was perturbed when she stated that Fersen and Marie-Antoinette were probably lovers, without giving any evidence, especially when she was careful to give evidence for everything else. Also, on ...more
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Deborah Cadbury is an award-winning British author and BBC television producer specialising in fundamental issues of science and history, and their effects on modern society.
After graduating from Sussex University in Psychology and Linacre College, Oxford she joined the BBC as a documentary maker and has received numerous international awards, including an Emmy, for her work on the BBC's Horizon s
More about Deborah Cadbury...
“there was a dramatic coup d’état against the moderate Girondins at the National Convention. Twenty-nine leading Girondists were arrested on June 2 and many were subsequently guillotined.” 0 likes
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