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King Edward VIII [Paperback]

Philip Ziegler
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Feb 2012

The authorised life story of the king who gave up his throne for love, by one of our most distinguished biographers.

In this masterly authorized biography, Philip Ziegler reveals the complex personality of Edward VIII, the only British monarch to have voluntarily renounced the throne.

With unique access to the Royal Archives, Ziegler overturns many myths about Edward and tells his side of the story – from his glamorous existence as Prince of Wales to his long decline in semi-exile in France. At the heart of the book is an unflinchingly honest examination of Edward’s all-consuming passion for Wallis Simpson, which led to his dramatic abdication.

Elegant and devastating, this is the most convincing portrait of Edward ever published.

Frequently Bought Together

King Edward VIII + That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor + Behind Closed Doors
Price For All Three: 22.27

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; (Reissue) edition (16 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007481012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007481019
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Philip Ziegler is a master of biographical narrative …Seldom has such exhaustive research been made so compellingly readable’ Michael Holroyd

‘Ziegler has told Edward’s story with consummate skill’ Sarah Bradford, Sunday Times

‘Beautifully written and constructed’ Michael Bloch, Sunday Telegraph

‘Ziegler writes with urbanity and generosity but is unflinching in his judgements … an exemplary biography’ Richard Davenport-Hines, Times Literary Supplement

‘A splendid book of impeccable scholarship, admirably written, moving, ironical and at times very amusing …’ Robert Blake, Country Life

‘A book of such compelling interest and frankness that it is difficult to put down … a very fine book’ New York Times Book Review

‘I found Ziegler’s book riveting’ Paul Barker, Listener

‘He writes brilliantly’ Christopher Hudson, Evening Standard

About the Author

Philip Ziegler was born in 1929 and educated at Eton and Oxford. He was a diplomat before becoming an editorial director at the publishers William Collins. His many books include acclaimed biographies of William IV, Lady Diana Cooper, Lord Mountbatten and Harold Wilson, as well as the classic history of the Black Death. His authorised biography of Edward Heath won the Elizabeth Longford Prize in 2011.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth the effort 26 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I only read biographies, and am very selective with the subject matter. I was slightly daunted when I saw the size of this book, as I was not convinced that it would be interesting enough to warrant the time and effort necessary to read it. I could not have been more wrong. This is an excellent book, one of the best I have read. The author gives an extremely detailed and unbiased insight into the life and character of the man who is only really known as the king who abdicated for love. I found the whole book engrossing, which I had not expected, and was always reluctant to put it down. The impartial yet meticulous style of the author leaves the reader free to form their own opinions about this infamous royal, but provides a huge amount of information to help make this possible. You do not need any real interest in royalty to enjoy this book. It is a fascinating, well written look at a man who changed history. Well worth the effort !!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read 7 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I very much enjoyed this book. It fulfilled all the expectations I had when I decided to buy it. Plus it was fun and informative to read.
The dilettante prince is not my idea of a knight in shining armour. But, if he was foolish, arrogant, weak even strong enough to stand by the decision he made, at least you can begin to understand why he behaved as he did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Edward V111 26 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I could not put this book down! A marvellous insight into a royal crisis that rocked the world. Written in an easy to understand fashion that analysed the main characters fairly and honestly. A captivating read - if you want an honest assessment of what happened then this book is the one to consider. Written like a novel but with all the facts in place.

Michael Britton.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 10 July 2014
By nick
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Easy to order site. Delivered promptly. Great read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable 19 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Enlightening & not sychophantic. Gave a good view of the character of the king - he doesn't come out well but very self centred
Good insight into peoples views at the Abdication crisis
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prince of the People, King of Nobody 19 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am reading this book along with That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, which is an account of Wallis Simpson, the woman Edward VIII chose to marry and give up his throne. I have given Sebba's book 4 stars simply because I find Wallace Simpson a far more fascinating character. The three stars do not mean that Ziegler's book is inferior in quality to Sebba's.

Ziegler's book better describes how events were seen inside the royal circle as Edward moved towards his date with destiny. Although he is clearly spoiled, it easy to see why this is so. Much of the fault lay with the establishment.

Two events are interesting. First is Edward's affair with Freda Dudley Ward. It's clear that he had strong affection for her. Ziegler debates that even if Freda Ward had, by chance, become a widow due to her husband dying in WWI, it doubtful that the Royal Family would have approved of Edward marrying her, even if he had wanted to. If only his mother and father could have seen into the future...

The second point is raised in chapter 6, which is called The Role of the Prince. That was his problem; he had no real role. His mother and father told him that he must "learn to govern" but he was given no real roles that enabled to get the experience. He wasn't allowed to take any real risks. How can you learn to govern without taking real risks? It's a contradiction in terms!

Ziegler uses many quotations from Edwards's letters. While this is academically to be applauded I do find it annoying after a while. Edward was clearly very emotional and listening (or actually reading) about all his rants, complaints and often childish outpourings can get tiresome. But it's not really Ziegler's fault; he is only reporting history. Some women may find such constant emotional outbursts less tiring. Let me know.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly researched and scrupulously fair 29 Oct 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Philip Ziegler has produced a well researched balanced and very readable account of the life of the only King in Modern British history to voluntarily renounce the throne. Edward - like all princes of Wales was indulged yet had stern parents for whom "duty" was paramount. He emerges as spoilt, lazy, drunken - in his youth and feckless. At the same time he was charming, kind, generous to friends in financial trouble, physically brave and ultimatly courageous in flying in the face of centuries of tradition in abandoning a court where importance is calabrated purely in terms of proximity to the throne.
If I have one critisism of Ziegler it is that the cause of the "Abdication Crises" Mrs Simpson does not get alot of attention. The comments of Edward's servants during their courtship suggest a driven women with a keen appreciation of the value of money. Whether she had any hope or intention of becomming Queen is never explored which is a pity.
The author lays to rest conclusively the common belief that Edward was pro -nazi or that he would have returned to Britain as a puppet king in the event of a German victory. His period as Governor General of the Bahamas is described in detail and Edward emerges as a shrewd operator who left the islands more prosperous than when he left, was not afraid to take on the white merchant class, although he opposed the inclusion of representatives of the black population being included because of his racial prejudice.
Edward emerges as a man who spent the first part of his life trying to get his mother's approval then spent the last 40 years constantly reassuring himself that he had his wife's. The Royal family in the main emerge as somewhat petty acting illegally in refusing the Duchess the style of her Royal Highness.
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