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I love Royal Family Biographies and was looking forward to this one since it included the Dukes of Kent and Gloucester, but I was disappointed by the heavy “politics of WW2” content and so I was left pretty disappointed overall.
If it just so happens that you are interested in the details of The Second World War AND the Royal Family, then without a doubt this is the book for you!!! I do find some aspects of WW2 interesting to learn about, but it’s not why I picked up this book. I wanted a more personal look at the lives of the Royal Brothers during the war and I felt that the book went off on too many tangents about war strategies and battle planning… I zoned out on many occasions.
Where does Princes at War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This is one of the best books I have listened to.
What other book might you compare Princes at War to, and why?
Like many of the biographies of early 20th century political figures (Margot at War, about Margaret Asquith; or the story of the Mitford sisters) in dealing with people of whom we have all heard, but who are now fading into the pages of history. However, this one is exceptionally good at combining the public and private aspects of their lives. Whilst the author is humane in her approach to the individuals, she is also clear-sighted about the obsession of Edward VIII for Mrs Simpson, and Mrs Simpson's insatiable hunger for wealth, position and most of all a royal title.
Have you listened to any of Cameron Stewart’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This is the first time I have listened to Cameron Stewart, but he was an excellent narrator: clear, well-paced, a pleasant voice, that brought the book through clearly without any of the mannerisms that can sometimes distract. I liked the fact that he did NOT try to adopt a different voice for every person who was quoted, which is current fashionable. I will look forward to listening to him again.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Not a single moment, but rather the theme of how heavily his role as king weighed on George VI is always impressive and moving.
Any additional comments?
This book was a well-balanced combination of political history (the events leading up to the abdication, to the war, and the way the war played out) and personal history (the effects of these various events on the people involved, and the human and family interactions between them). Without ever being salacious or prying, it gave me an enhanced sense of how the public events fitted into the private lives of these individual, and how their individual gifts and personalities affected those events.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
This book is more than just an appraisal of the personal lives of two brothers it is an excellent account of the events leading up to and during the Second World War. The author manages to combine painstaking and thorough research with a highly accessible and readable narrative. The narrator does an excellent job reading in an unobtrusive way without thank goodness trying to imitate the voices of Churchill or other leading protagonists of the time. The historical events are so dramatic in themselves that they do not need histrionic flourishes on the part of the narrator.
The description of the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk when France fell into the hands of the Germans was one of the best I have ever read. The Battle of Britain was wonderfully described too. What the author really managed to convey was the sense of isolation when Britain found herself alone facing the seemingly overwhelming might of the Nazis.
I loved the excerpts from the war diary of “Bertie” and his self effacing bravery and courage were remarkable compared with the selfish and egotistical behaviour of his brother David.
It was no doubt in my mind a good thing for England that King Edward abdicated his throne. He never seemed to attain adult maturity and there is a limit to the power of childish charm especially in times of real crisis. The bone of contention dividing the brothers remained the status of Wallis Simpson whom the new King refused to grant the title of Royal Highness. This dispute seems so childish when considered in the light of the terrible events facing the British people at the time. The author maintains a healthy distance and neutrality in describing the relationship of the tandem Edward and Mrs Simpson. It is up to the listener to forge his own opinion from the facts presented.
A splendid book and I can highly recommend it.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I would recommend this to a friend who is interested in pre WW2 and WW2 history and politics. The attempts by Britain to 'make nice' with the Nazis and the failure of regular diplomacy is especially relevant today as is the steadfast loyalty and duty to his country displayed by George VI and seen in in his daughter Elizabeth II.
Who was your favorite character and why?
I enjoyed learning more about the Duke of Windsor's political machinations, but George VI was the most interesting person in the book. I enjoyed the way the author demonstrated that the people and political leaders of Britain seemed dazzled by Edward VIII, but that George VI was really the right man for the job. The best part of the book is the undercurrent that runs underneath: Edward VIII would have been a disastrous King and Mrs Simpson would have been a woeful Queen and Cadbury demonstrates that through a thorough analysis of the actions of Wallis and Edward after his abdication.
What about Cameron Stewart’s performance did you like?
Cameron Stewart is a great reader whose pronunciation was always perfect and who struck the right sombre tone for a serious non fiction book.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I would not say I would want to listen to it all in one sitting. After all, there is little suspense involved in a non fiction book. However, I will listen to it again because it whizzes by so quickly in some parts and it is action packed during the war years.