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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human Side of Absolute Monarchy
This is an excellent investigation into what can happen when rulers equate divine right with competence and sound judgement. We see the results of a system of hereditary monarchy in three different cases and how their own personalities and the influences around them shaped not only their lives but their relationships with each other, which in turn filtered down to the...
Published on 16 Sep 2010 by Ms. C. Wetwood

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too condescending to be an objective history
Unfortunately, I cannot rate Miranda Carter's book as highly as many of the other reviewer's have. And this is mainly for two reasons. First, the book is confusing. Although there is a general historical progression throughout the whole book, beginning with the births of these three rulers and ending with the aftermath of World War 1, within each chapter and sometimes...
Published 23 months ago by R Helen


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!, 6 Aug 2012
By 
JJA Kiefte "Joost Kiefte" (Tegelen, Nederland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
When I first encountered this book I hesitated buying it. Was I really in need of another heavy tome on the events leading up to WWI? Robert Massey devoted two huge, kaleidoscopic pageturners on the topic ("Nicholas and Alexandra" and "Dreadnought"), what more could possibly be said? Well, a lot, as it turns out. Massey's books could be called almost obsequious compared to Miranda Carter's irreverent attitude towards the crowned heads of Europe. No one is spared, not Queen Victoria, not Prince Albert or any of the other supporting roles. Russia's Nicholas comes across as a pathetic, almost autistic weakling who was more responsible for the terrible events in his country than Massey ever gave him 'credit' for; Wilhelm suffered from ADHD, at least that is how he would be diagnosed today, who should have never been allowed to run the German Empire. The one person who comes off the lightest is George, but that is mainly because his reign before WWI was so much shorter than that of the other two, and because his influence on government policy was all but non-existent. He too was an almost pathetically badly educated and, via inbreeding, almost autistically reserved recluse, who hated to take public office but, almost despite himself, turned in a great job, thus ensuring the Windsors a longevity among royal houses that is almost unparallelled.
The book is very well writen. It is true, as some other reviewers have noted, that every now and again Ms Carter repeats herself, and that her use of names is inconsistent and confusing, but never so bad that the thread of the narrative is lost. I found it a delightful, riveting read, as much a source of amusement as of amazement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable but has faults, 25 Oct 2012
By 
Stephen Bishop (Darlington, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
This is a highly readable work of narrative history which threads together the stories of Wilhelm II, Nicholas II and George V to show how their relationships impacted on the period leading up to the First World War, and how they were affected by that war. There is also a coda which goes beyond. The devoting of a chapter to the 'fourth emperor' (Edward VII) shows the slight awkwardness of this scheme, but it is not a grave flaw. I would recommend the book, but readers should be aware of two flaws. First a certain degree of prejudice against George V and Queen Mary in terms of their personalities is evident. Second, there are a significant number of small factual errors which should have been picked up either by the author or an editor knowledgeable in the period. These do not affect the enjoyment of the book, which does not pretend to much original or in-depth scholarship, and overall this is a work which one can have a relaxing time reading over a few days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lively and thought-provoking, 12 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
I agree with the reviewer who wrote that this book had not been edited enough. The slightly informal writing style was occasionally annoyingly slangy. I also found the liberal, inconsistent and often utterly pointless use of [sic] very irritating. Surely we all know that Tsar was often spelt Czar, that the fact that Russian is transliterated means that some writers might spell names, in particular, differently, and that even Empresses might use idiosyncratic spelling at times? As other reviewers have mentioned, there was also a certain amount of repetition in this book. It seemed to me that "England" and "Britain" were used interchangeably, too.

Having said all that, this is a magnificently readable and enjoyable work that despite the often very serious nature of its subject is a real page-turner. I was reading it in every spare moment until I finished it -it really is that gripping. Having studied the causes of the First World War at school but knowing little about the late Victorian/Edwardian era I found the background information very interesting. Miranda Carter succeeds in bringing many of the historical figures she writes about vividly alive on the page, and the broad scope of the book, taking in Britain, Russia and Germany, gave a perspective that was consistently thought-provoking. The Kaiser in particular came across as a fascinating, frustrating personality. Although this is a relatively traditional work of history in the sense that it focuses on the "great men" it has a nuanced approach and never loses sight of the effect of the decisions made at the top on those at the bottom. It is sobering to think how many people were slaughtered in the First World War (not to mention the numerous other conflicts, some of which were equally pointless, and pogroms and massacres in Russia in particular, covered in the book) because of the arrogance, stupidity, greed and sheer lack of imagination of a relatively small number of people.

Overall this book is well worth reading - and is worth reading just for pleasure. I look forward to reading more by Miranda Carter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative read, 20 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
I saw a review of this book and immediately wanted to read it. My knowledge of the build up to that terrible war of 1914-18 was sketchy, to say the least. This book certainly clarified it all and I must say that Miranda Carter writes well and keeps one's interest throughout. Thoroughly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THREE EMPERORS, 9 May 2011
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Mr. David Cookson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
What a marvellous book! Full of understanding and new insights into the characters of these three men who tipped the world into tragedy and chaos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Three Emperors, 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
An excellent well researched book which relates in compelling detail how three major royal families of Europe attempted to influence the direction of their countries policies with regard to territorial ambitions. At the same time trying to enhance their own egos regardless of what effect this would have on the country or its peoples, often encouraged by less than truthful devious politicians.

They were unable to appreciate their absolute ignorance of the real world and the appallig conditions that most of their "subjects" had to endure. The finale being the outbreak of World War 1 with its terrible conclusion, four to five million people killed,the removal of the German Kaiser, the execution of the Russion Tsar and his family and an armistice with conditions that eventually led to all the horrors of the Second World War.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an awful family!, 26 Oct 2009
By 
Geoffrey Woollard (South East Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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I have long held the belief that, had Queen Victoria lived until she was 95 instead of dying in January, 1901, at the age of 81, she might have boxed the ears of two (Georgie of England and Willy of Germany) of her grandsons and the husband (Nicky of Russia) of one of her grand-daughters - 'The Three Emperors' of the title - and many millions might not have died in the 'Great War.' But Victoria was obviously as ignorant and tiny-minded as the rest of the royals and may well have been as unwilling to call the others to order as they were to call themselves to order.

This well-researched book provides plenty of proof of the ignorance and tiny-mindedness of these people and, is therefore, fascinating and rewarding in its own right. But it also gives a disturbing insight into what many of us know already, namely, that Victoria's family carried on a long royal tradition of being dysfunctional. Not to put too fine a point on it, many members of the family were quite nasty, probably certifiable by modern standards and positively dangerous because of the power that they wielded.

Of course, two of the emperors, Willy and Nicky, were autocrats running autocracies and that has grave and inherent dangers. But Georgie was a would-be autocrat, too, not only in his outlook on the world but also within his family. Thankfully, he was kept in check by successive Prime Ministers under our 'constitutional monarchy' system, unlike the other emperors, who were barely checked at all.

As to the most notorious of all of the extraordinarily awful episodes involving the cousins - that of Georgie's selfish refusal to extend succour and sanctuary to Nicky in 1917 - the author expresses her revulsion in a manner that is restrained whereas I would have gone for the jugular. King George V, Emperor of India but of German blood like his imperial cousins, disgraced his adopted British Empire and brought everlasting shame on his adopted imperial subjects.

Miranda Carter also mentions briefly another curious and seemingly cowardly act of King George V, that of changing his family name from the German 'Saxe-Coburg-Gotha' to the 'stick-a-pin-in-a-map-of-England' one of 'Windsor.' So much for this family's love of heritage and history.

It is interesting to speculate, too, that given the mad and dangerous examples of this family that Ms. Carter has studied in such depth and given the importance that they and others attached and attach to heredity, if it is wise for anyone nowadays to place much store by the sanity and safeness of those of the descendants still living? I don't intend to divulge for this review those whom I might have in mind, but readers can infer what they want from my words.

The downside of this otherwise excellent literary effort is that the author seems to have set out to entertain her readers as well as to educate them and, sometimes, just sometimes, her language is too slanted towards entertainment and is not as elegant as that used by more experienced historians. Nevertheless, I give it five stars and recommend it without hesitation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent captivating pacey, 28 April 2014
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Really great read, gives a factual and personal review of 3 kings which shaped our political landscape. fleshed out the men that are normally only referred to in statistical terms
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5.0 out of 5 stars World War one, 28 April 2014
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If you do not read another ww1 book this anniversary year read this one. I was absolutely enthralled and totally informed all about the lead-up and the eventual war itself. Where the cousins ended up and how they managed to keep on relatively good terms with each other.
As Miranda Carter says at the end George V was the only monarch still standing at the end of the war!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and scary, 8 April 2014
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This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Paperback)
I'm not a history buff and the period covered by this book is one that I knew almost nothing about. I bought this book after watching the excellent BBC documentary "Royal Cousins at War", to which the author also contributed. It is a fascinating account of a turbulent period of history when the fate of much of Europe, as well as significant parts of the rest of the world, was determined to a significant degree by the whims of a single, rather dysfunctional family whose various branches were the monarchs or emperors of much of Europe and the world.

And that's where the scary part comes in. You realise through reading this book how much European history has been shaped and damaged by the careless leadership of these monarchs who, while generally well-meaning, were unequipped to do their jobs. With Germany and Austria, this led to two disastrous world wars, and in Russia the repression and lack of progress led to the communist revolution. Of the titular three emperors, only the one with the least power - George V of Britain - managed not to destroy the monarchy in his country.

The ramifications of this period are clear even today, when we see Russia, for example, still demonstrating an aggressive, imperialist stance. This book has certainly shed new light on the recent history of Europe for me. It is very readable and entertaining, and is generally rather sympathetic towards all of the protagonists, never demonising any of them (even Kaiser Wilhelm) but showing them to be essentially well-intentioned but often fatally flawed people.

I can't speak for its historical accuracy, but for entertainment and enlightenment, I rate this book very highly.
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