Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Princes at War: The Bitter Battle inside Britain’s Royal Family in the Darkest Days of WWII

Today’s post is on Princes at War: The Bitter Battle inside Britain’s Royal Family in the Darkest Days of WWII by Deborah Cadbury. It is 356 pages long including notes and is published by PublicAffairs. The cover has the King George VI and his three brothers all in military dress. The intended reader is someone who is interested in history, War World II and the British royal family. There is no sex, mild language, and no violence in this book. The story is told from the third person perspective with first hand documents added in for favor. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- In 1936, The British monarchy faced the greatest threats to its survival in the modern era- the crisis of abdication and the menace of Nazism. The fate of the country rested in the hands of George V’s sorely unequipped sons:
·         A stammering King George VI, terrified that the world might discover he was unfit to rule
·         A dull-witted Prince Henry, who wanted only a quiet life in the army
·         The too-glamorous Prince George, the Duke of Kent- a reformed hedonist who found new purpose in the RAF and would become the first royal to die in a mysterious plane crash
·         The Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, deemed a Nazi-sympathizer and traitor to his own country- a man who had given it all up for love
Princes at War is a riveting portrait of these four very different men miscast by fate, one of whom had to save the monarchy at a moment when kings and prices from across Europe were washing up on England’s shores as the old order was overturned. Scandal and conspiracy swirled around the palace and its courtiers, among them dangerous cousins from across Europe’s royal families, gold-digging American socialite Wallis Simpson, and the King Lord Steward, upon whose estate Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess parachuted (seemingly by coincidence) as London burned under the Luftwaffe’s tireless raids.

Review- At times this book is very well researched with excellent notes about events then it will descent into speculation that the book says is speculation but wants to control what the reader thinks about an event. It is well written and I was moved at points of the narrative but it was the occasional mean spirited aside that stopped me from truly enjoying this book.  Of all the people in this book only the king and Churchill are spared it. The parts that are pure history, which is most of the book, are very enjoyable. Going from the very beginning of George VI’s reign to his death, the fact-based material is interesting, well written, and moving. I had tears in my eyes at some of the speeches that were reproduced.  Seeing what the war did to the royal family from an inside perspective was refreshing break from the horrors of most of the World War II books I have been reading lately. The horrors are still there but the hopefulness and the bond of the family helped. Take this book with a grain of salt and it should be very enjoyable.

I give this book a Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.