William III was a rare superhero. His dad, infamous for his whoring & for a nasty coup-d'etat, died in 1650 when William was not even born. His mother did not care much for him, and the powers that be in the Netherlands grabbed their chance in robbing William of his hereditary 'Stadhouder'ship. A bad start in life if ever there was one. Fastforward to 1672. Louis XIV's 100 000+ strong army has blitzkrieged its way into the soft core of the Netherlands. The elite is clueless, the people rebel. William, an introverted young man without the slightest military or political experience, does not hesitate to claim leadership of not just the army (or what was left of it) but of the country at large. Rather than capitulating, he counterattacks, walking his army from Holland to Charleroi which he besieges. Admittedly, the siege was unsuccesful (arguably the whole offensive was madness) and the war would drag on for another 6 years, but William has shown what he is made of.
Fastforward to 1688. Again, Louis is poised to attack the Netherlands, again with help from England where the catholic James II rules. Rather than preventively flooding the Dutch water line & hiding behind the dikes, William borrows money from a rich jewish financier in Amsterdam, equips the largest fleet his country has ever assembled, embarks an elite army and invades England, kicking out James and patiently explaining the English how their true interest lies in allying with the Netherlands against the French - under his leadership. This first (and only) succesful invasion since 1066 is yet another example of William's incredible boldness.
William's impact on history is clearly enormous: he taught the English key skills like banking (which later helped them to outspend the French in any war), he stopped the French expansion and last but not least, he contributed materially to the demise of his own country of birth, The Netherlands, which simply was a size too small to participate in the European power struggle.
It is really a pity that so little is known about William the person. Unfortunately, this book does not help all that much. Both William and his wife Mary appear somewhat dull - I think in his case because he was such a closed person, and in her case most likely because she really was a bit dull.
This is not to say that this book is dull too - it is not. On the other hand, it could have been written a bit faster & more furiously. Still, recommended reading for anyone who wants to know more about this fascinating figure and his times.