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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  3,178 ratings  ·  301 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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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,178 ratings  ·  301 reviews


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Matt
Jul 16, 2013 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
...more
Eric_W
Mar 23, 2010 marked it as to-read
OK, I haven't read this book -- I will, maybe -- 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.
...more
Chrissie
Dec 09, 2013 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
Karla
Monarchy. LOLZ.

6/7/18: New Yorker article by the author on one of the most amazing & illuminating aspects of this excellent biography. "What Happens When a Bad-Tempered, Distractable Doofus Runs an Empire?" Link
Bou
As I previously read in Queen Victoria's Matchmaking it was Albert’s (and later) Victoria’s dream to create a network of European monarchies, where conflicts between the various European empires could be solved during a Christmas dinner.

Instead, a King, a Kaiser and a Czar - which happened to be each others cousins, happily went to war.

It was perhaps Albert’s greatest mistake to assume that Kings, in the modern world of the early 20th century, still would be able to shape modern politics. In f
...more
Dorothy
Sep 03, 2012 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
Lois
I thoroughly enjoyed this!!!!!!! I really found this easy to read. I listened to this on audiobook and didn't realize at first that the author was using quotes and I was upset at the language used. Once I understood that the author was making a point of including how racist these monarchs were I enjoyed it.
The references to the 'yellow race' and 'natives' 'savages' etc is jarring but important.
This war will drag in the colonies and involve all kinds of innocent parties.
I had not understood how t
...more
Suzannah
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was long, dense, and detailed. From the endorsements on the cover I expected something a little more rollicking, but historical detail is often a trade-off with readability, and it's quite a fair trade.

This book is a look at the lives of Tsar Nicholas II, King George V, and Kaiser Wilhelm II in the years from their birth to World War II, with additional focus on Queen Victoria and Edward VII. Carter is absolutely unsparing of each man's foibles. Although when war actually came, Wilhelm
...more
Sweetwilliam
Jul 25, 2011 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
Grady
Jun 26, 2011 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
...more
John E
Jan 04, 2016 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!
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: Bettie
First-class analysis, and really well-written.
LillyBooks
Aug 22, 2013 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
Louise
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
...more
Nino Frewat
Apr 23, 2015 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
...more
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
...more
Elizabeth
Sep 19, 2011 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
Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joan
This was very good. It was perhaps a bit too long, although I cannot identify any substantial part that could have been cut. What I found most striking and alarming was how frequently a sentence about Wilhelm, Kaiser of Germany, would have made perfect sense if you substituted the name trump in the place of Wilhelm. Wilhelm was a thorough narcissist, and you can certainly see how the actions he took resemble trump's actions. Another similarity was the way neither could accept blame and responsib ...more
Elizabeth
"King George found the post war world a foreign chilly place."

This book was quite excellent! I learned so much and consider this book my favorite non-fiction book of 2017.

What is so lovely about my experience with this book is that I happened to stumble upon it in my library's collection when I was browsing the biography section.

This is one of my favorite periods in history so I have read a lot about it through the years yet I learned quite a bit from this very well researched book.

There are so
...more
Fred Klein
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I find it fascinating that these three monarchs of major powers before and during WWI were related and had personal relationships. This was not by accident; it was the plan of Albert (Victoria's husband) to spread the family blood to ensure peace and prosperity. Yes, that worked out great, didn't it? Not only did it not work, but it spread hemophilia through the royal houses.

I enjoyed this book very much and recommend it. I would have liked it to contain more maps, but it did contain very useful
...more
Mary
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating account of the three maladjusted royal cousins who ruled Germany, England and Russia in the years leading up to the First World War. Highly recommended!
Alexandra
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Excellent review of the political situation, as complicated by the familial relations throughout Europe, in the 50 years preceding World War I. Particular emphasis on the role Kaiser Wilhelm II played (he influenced conditions more than any other monarch), and on the deterioration of Russia, showing the conditions that led to their revolution. (I found that particularly interesting and plan to pursue further reading on that topic). Nice wrap-up at the end giving list of crowned heads that lost t ...more
Andrea
Aug 05, 2013 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
Jill Meyer
Mar 01, 2017 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
Brenda Clough
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent dive into the pathology of the royals of the period. Probably it did take WW1 to break the back of this pernicious system. You would not trust any of these three men with your dog, never mind your nation.
Frank
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent 3-way biography! Very readable and engaging.
Steve
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Long and engaging. Not only does it shed light on the politics of Europe in the late 19th century but it reveals the foundations for the wars that engulfed the world in the 20th century.
Susan
Jun 16, 2011 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
Elizabeth  Hodges
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Impressively engaging, especially for being fairly exhaustive on an already broad subject. I found the last quarter a bit hard to get through because of the overwhelming sadness of looming war, but it was consistently engaging throughout - not always true for history books.
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Are these the same book? 4 24 Apr 26, 2015 09:51AM  

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Biographer/historian/thriller writer. Also goes under M.J. Carter.
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