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God Save the Queen? [Paperback]

Johann Hari
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Jun 2002
Explosive and timely critique of a monarchy in meltdown. Johann Hari argues that the tragicomic soap opera that is the monarchy devalues the Windsors themselves and 21st century Britain as a whole, He suggests cogent and often surprising alternatives and finally concludes - it's time to wave goodbye.

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (3 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840464011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840464016
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 13.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Here is the plain proof of the child-sacrifice that underlies our most absurd and sinister institution." -- Christopher Hitchens

"Highly lucid and irreverent...more
dysfunctional and compelling than Big Brother." -- The Scotsman

"I love this book! It's like eating a whole box of chocolates in one go." -- Julie Burchill

"fantastically gripping and of the most
convincing books on the monarchy you'll ever read." -- Independent on Sunday, June 16th 2002

From the Publisher

Here is the book for the alternative Golden Jubliee. Award-winning journalist Johann Hari exposes the truth behind the public face of the British monarchy. It is an institution more suited to the 19th century than the 21st, and incompatible with our media-driven culture. And not only is the monarchy an affront to the intelligence and modernity of the British people (and, indeed the Commonwealth) it is destroying the Windsors themselves, creating monsters and wreaking lives. It's high time - Hari painstakingly argues - that this tragicomic show closed.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, provocative and funny - a great read 15 Jun 2010
The largest section of the book is a person-by-person character assassination of the main actors in the soap opera that has been the post-War British monarchy. Hari pulls no punches in slamming the Windsors' weak intellect, greed, disfunctional family life, and unpleasantly poor social skills. Most of them come across as woefully inadequate and pretty loathesome human beings.

Hari's angle is to paint them as victims of an institution (in particular their misguided and heartless matriarch) that can't help but create flawed humans. He argues that for the British to insist on retaining a monarchy in the face of such evidence is to selfishly condemn a new generation of royals to this hideous fate.

The second part of the book is a short but systematic deconstruction of the main arguments for retaining a monarchy on historical and constitutional grounds.

This is a great read - lively, well sourced and engaging. Okay, reading the book eight years after it was authored, the idea that William doesn't want to be king doesn't sound so convincing, but little else appears to have changed. Yes, it's utterly one-sided, but it's still a welcome antidote to the far more prevalent and destructive powers of a sycophantic British media.
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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An accomplished polemic 10 July 2002
Let me start by saying that I'm a monarchist. So why did I buy this book? Well, it's extremely well-written for starters and is hugely accessible. Unlike most lefties, Hari does not cloud his beliefs in pretentious sociology-speak. And secondly, because as other reviewers have pointed out, it contains plenty of juicy gossip about the HRH's themselves. And after all, it's the monarchists who keep the royal family media frenzy going, isn't it?
Hari's thesis - that the monarchy should be abolished because of its ill effects on the family and that the dysfunctional family is a result of the pressures of the monarchy - is well argued but far from watertight. After all, by Hari's argument, if the family were happy, then the monarchy would be OK. So what about foreign monarchies? Are we supposed to believe that every royal family in the world is dysfunctional? His book can be construed as much as an argument for reform and modernisation of the institution, rather than for its total abolition. Make the monarchy more family-friendly and flexible, perhaps, then the monarchs would be happier.
In addition, he takes a very dim view of duty and seems to elevate the idea of personal freedom above all other virtues. Why should William, he argues, have to devote his life to duty? Shouldn't he be free to do as he pleases? And yet duty is an underrated virtue. Unfortunately, most of us find as we get older that we are all a great deal less free than we thought. Those with children lose much of their freedom and - if they have any conscience - accept their duty of bringing them up. Hari appears to think that it is wrong to expect anyone to accept a burden of duty and believes that William will not want to take up that burden. But what teenager doesn't want to rebel?
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous book for the british people 13 Nov 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great book highlighting the totally undemocratic and out dated institution that is the monarchy. It shows clearly how monarchy is not only bad for the people of Britain but also for the people who are the royal family.
A must read for anyone interested in a true democracy in Britain, rid of the dreadful class system the monarchy represents.
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is soooo cool! 10 Jun 2002
I read this guy's stuff on ...[the New Statesman website]... (one of the UK's best politics sites) all the time and he's great there, but this book beats even that stuff! It's so witty and well-written, and obviously based on very close sources. There's stuff here for intellectuals and people who just love to hear dirt on the royals. I can't recommend it strongly enough!
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is very good but very harsh on some royals. 11 Jun 2002
Obviously intelligent, a good read (I could not put it down), but I think Harri is extremely harsh on Prince Charles and the Queen Mother.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read about the monarchy 17 Jun 2002
I read this book after a glowing review by Janet Street-Porter in the Independent on Sunday, but it exceeded even her ecstatic recommendation. It is witty, energetic and extremely persuasive. I was interested but fairly agnostic towards the royal family before I read this. Now I am a firm advocate of abolition. It has even persuaded my previously rather monarchist mother! A must-read. I have ordered several to send to my friends.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End of Monarchy? 7 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is so detrimental to the Royal Family that when reading it I half expected a hand to be laid on my shoulder and find myself being led off to the Tower of London.

A real eye-opener
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just love the clarity 29 Aug 2012
It starts off with a quite sensible proposal that the expectations of the populace from the monarchy are quite unreasonable and that this has turned the royal family into a dysfunctional assortment of tormented souls. The issue of duty as interpreted by the Queen and laid on her offspring has led them to be the way they are, which is by no means a normal family (whatever that might mean in the context).

He then goes on to comment on their intelligence, and, of course, they are all stupid, because Johann Hari is really clever and better educated and is thus enabled from a lofty viewpoint to comment on their flaws.

The next step is to look at the alternatives, but who, in their right minds, would wish to have someone like Blair, Brown or Cameron as president, much as they themselves might welcome the opportunity.

And then, of all things, he suggests that the constitutional function could be carried out by the Speaker. May all the powers of the universe protect us from Gorbals Mick or little Bercow having any more influence than they have already misused.

And to cap it all the quotes on the cover are from Christopher Hitchens and Julie Birchill. If you wanted an unreasonable view, or biassed opinion, you couldn't do better than that.

I loved it because it proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, what a self regarding and opinionated individual the disgraced journalist truly is: thus supporting my original premise.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Puerile piffle
Quite funny, actually -- unintentionally so. (Wondreful to see the Duchess of Windsor referred to as the Duke's 'partner'. Read more
Published on 1 Nov 2007 by Dominic Swayne
5.0 out of 5 stars The Windsors are just so appallingly vulgar!
This book exposes what dreadful people the Windsors are. Not only do we, the wretched taxpayers, support their lavish lifestyles, houses, holidays and servants but we are expected... Read more
Published on 26 July 2007 by Doctor Syn
1.0 out of 5 stars Spitting Image caricatures - CHEAP JIBES AT ROYALS
This book offers nothing but cheap caricatures of several members of the royal family. While I was reading it I got the feeling that it had been thrown together quickly and indeed... Read more
Published on 4 April 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars The Royal Family as victims of the monarchy!
Until I read this book, I'd never viewed the Royal Family as being actual victims of the institution called 'the monarchy'. Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2006
2.0 out of 5 stars Republican Propaganda
The Author seems to have derived a sadistic pleasure while writing this book. He has been rude to the Royal Family and more so to Charles. Read more
Published on 27 May 2004 by Dinyar N. Jalnawalla
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, great book.
'God Save the Queen?' is fantastic. I am a monarchist, so probably not the target reader the writer had in mind, but I loved every sentence and it even made my convictions waver... Read more
Published on 22 Sep 2002 by "wellhung8incheslad"
5.0 out of 5 stars A provocative insight
An excellent book, and very well structured. The author is writing with his opinion and with a very informal tone, which in itself mocks the highly strung Royal Family. Read more
Published on 1 Sep 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, darling
This book is a joy. I've read Johann's work in Varsity and the New Statesman and liked it, seen his play Daydream Believers and loved it, but this book surpassed all my... Read more
Published on 23 Jun 2002
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