A meticulously researched historical tour de force about the secret ties among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, the Duke of Windsor, and Adolf Hitler before, during, and after World War II.
Andrew Morton tells the story of the feckless Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor; his American wife, Wallis Simpson; the bizarre wartime Nazi plot to make him a puppet king after the invasion of Britain; and the attempted cover-up by Churchill, General Eisenhower, and King George VI of the Duke's relations with Hitler. From the alleged affair between Simpson and the German foreign minister to the discovery of top-secret correspondence about the man dubbed "the traitor king" and the Nazi high command, this is a saga of intrigue, betrayal, and deception suffused with a heady aroma of sex and suspicion.
For the first time, Morton reveals the full story behind the cover-up of those damning letters and diagrams: the daring heist ordered by King George VI, the smooth duplicity of a Soviet spy, as well as the bitter rows and recriminations among the British and American diplomats, politicians, and academics.
Drawing on FBI documents, exclusive pictures, and material from the German, Russian, and British royal archives as well as the personal correspondence of Churchill, Eisenhower, and the Windsors themselves, 17 Carnations is a dazzling historical drama, full of adventure, intrigue, and startling revelations, written by a master of the genre.
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I have read several books about Edward VIII and can only think that the world has much to thank his unsuitable wife for. She saved us from having Edward as king at a time when Britain was in dire peril, and as a result we had George VI and then our present queen. Edward should have been tried for treason, whether his actions were the result of sheer stupidity or evil intent, for others who did less and had less influence were executed after the war. Wallis was a selfish, social-climbing hedonist who expected to be treated as royalty at a time when the British were near starving and being bombed daily. They were both used as patsies by Hitler, and seemed oblivious to the damage they did in fawning over him. I think a firing squad would have been too good for them and I applaud the royal family for consistently refusing to pander to them. Andrew Morton did a reasonable job with the book, but I certainly would have liked more information about how the Duke got away with it.
- Vivien Tarkirk-Smith
Yes. It was fascinating to me to learn about how perilously close Great Britain was to falling under Nazi influence and how Edward and Wallis might have helped that along.
I was most interested in learning about how much Edward and Wallis still craved the prestige and power or royalty even after he had made the decision to abdicate and how his naive attempts to remain a player put the world in jeopardy.
N/A, since this is not a work of fiction.
Sometimes, it was hard to follow the array of people mentioned in this book. There were so many players with long (and sometimes multiple) titles that it became difficult at times to recognize who was who and just how many people we were hearing about in a passage. I think that would have been tough to follow in print as well, but in print, we have the ability to easily thumb back to other passages or use an index. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this work and was glad to hear this perspective on Edward and Wallis.
- Tara C