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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography at its finest
Hannah Pakula's study of the life of Victoria (Vicky), the gifted and driven oldest child of Victoria and Albert, is a first-rate and stunning biography. It is not simple "women's history" or Victoriana; this is a book that deserves to be on the bestseller lists.
As with all biographies of the lives of Victoria's family, the book cannot be viewed as simple period...
Published on 29 Jun 2004

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A dull, fumbling book!
I can't imagine anyone remoting liking this book unless they have a doctorate in history and a desire to suffer in dusty archives. Pakula, a very famous and wealthy woman in her own right, seems to be turning out these biographies as a hobby. According to her acknowledgements, she employs a great many people to sweat out the research for her, do the unpleasant footwork,...
Published on 21 July 1998


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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography at its finest, 29 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: An Uncommon Woman: The Life of Princess Vicky: The Empress Frederick (WOMEN IN HISTORY) (Paperback)
Hannah Pakula's study of the life of Victoria (Vicky), the gifted and driven oldest child of Victoria and Albert, is a first-rate and stunning biography. It is not simple "women's history" or Victoriana; this is a book that deserves to be on the bestseller lists.
As with all biographies of the lives of Victoria's family, the book cannot be viewed as simple period biography. Their personal lives are inextricably bound with their nations' political histories, and at times they are one and the same. Vicky was married at 17 to Fritz, the heir presumptive of Prussia, in what was thought to be the fulfillment of Albert's lifelong dream of a unified and parliamentary Germany. This was not to be, and Vicky's own flesh and blood would see to that.
Hannah Pakula's skills as a historian are without reproach; the book could easily double as an academic text on 19th century German history, and I in fact gained a better comprehension of German history from this book than I did from my university courses. Her prose is equally strong. At times the rote of injustices inflicted upon Vicky - a vicious hate campaign led by her own son - was so upsetting to read that I would have to put the book down for a while. It takes powerful writing to do that.
Pakula does not deny or excuse Vicky's personality flaws. Still, Vicky is revealed as one of the most wronged and neglected women in history. Bravo to Pakula for shining the light on a woman so often left alone in darkness.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Empress for 99 days - the last hope of liberalism in Germany, 22 Feb 2004
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: An Uncommon Woman: The Life of Princess Vicky: The Empress Frederick (WOMEN IN HISTORY) (Paperback)
An Uncommon Woman, is Pakula’s authoritative biography of the Empress Frederick.
Frederick is male; Empress is female—about whom are we talking here? Isn’t that name a contradiction in itself? So who is that person?
The Empress Fredeick is none other than the Princess Royal Victoria (1840-1901), – known as Vicky to her family - eldest child of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. She married the Prussian Crown Prince, later Crown Prince of the German Empire, Frederick (Fritz), who in 1888 as Frederick III became German Emperor after a long wait. He was hailed as the liberal hope of Germany. However, he was terminal ill with cancer and died after a brief reign of only 99 days. His widow took after his death in order to honour his memory the name of Empress Frederick. With him the ”last hope of Liberalism” had died.
She is the mother of the last German Emperor (Kaiser) Wilhelm II, often refered to as THE KAISER.
Drawing on a vast amount of l family documents, including more than 7,000 letters between the Empress and the Queen, between mother and daugther . Hanna Pakula offers an absorbing portrait of a brilliant, determined woman, a life set from the very beginning to become something special. Vicky was the beloved daughter of her father, the Prince Consort Albert, and trained by him in the principles of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary government. Her love-match to heir of the Prussian throne was seen by him as a mission of carrying these liberal concepts back to the homeland. of Albert’s birth. At the age of seventeen-year, she encountered the rigid Prussian Court, the politicies an Otto von Bismarck. The clash of a policy of enlightened liberalism versus the domineering and at the time successful militarism of an ultra-conservative policy was bound to happen. Vicky tried to convince his husband, the heir to the throne and put him in a difficult position. The wait for the throne cost both dear. When it finally happened, the new Emperor was already marked for the grave, suffering from throat cancer. 99 days were too short to change the course of history. With him died the last hope of liberalism, so at least Hanna Pakula saw it and praised Victoria’s political judgement. But is that the reality ? Victoria or the Empress Frederick created after the Emperor’ s death a portrait of her husband, a portrait creating him a liberal legend and criticising his political adversary Otto von Bismarck (1815-98), who dominated German politics from 1862 to 1890 New evidence calls the accuracy of these views into question. It shows that the success of Victoria’s campaign to convert her husband to liberalism was in actuality more limited than she herself believed. Victoria hoped to revise German politics along more liberal and progressive guidelines used in Britain, but while Frederick adopted moderately liberal views after his marriage, he shied away from embracing the far more radical political philosophy of his wife. Her views on domestic and foreign policy were unrealistic, and the course of action she advocated on several occasions was downright dangerous. Indeed, in the long run it may have been better for Germany that most of her views never became translated into actual policy.
In whatever way you judge this aspect of her life, you will find the life of Vicky most interesting, her fascinating and set before an epic story of war, revolutions, major changes of the European landscape. It is a story of royal romance, court intrigue and a very sad mother-son relationship. And above it is the story of a mother-daughter relationship - the two Victorias… two queens, two empresses, two politicians and two wifes, mother and daugther.
5 stars are well deserved for this excellent book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an uncommon woman - Hanna Pakula, 7 Dec 2006
By 
R. C. Morris "rmorris149" (Cardiff Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: An Uncommon Woman: The Life of Princess Vicky: The Empress Frederick (WOMEN IN HISTORY) (Paperback)
This is not only a brilliant biography but it also gives one a real insight into the birth of Germany. The craftiness of Bismark and the endless emphasis on military build up. Wilhelm I the grandfather of Kaiser Wilhelm II even had the boy dressed up and playing soldiers at 10.

Much of Bismark's tricks look transparent to us these days but at the time he duped many a foreign leader by his honest broker policy. He like Hitler would use any excuse to demonise his targeted prey - be it France, Austria or socialism. A bear of a man at 6ft 3ins who could eat and drink endlessly. There is a lot on the future Kaiser II and how from an early age his mother noted his hard and uncompromising views on life (not surprising when your mother refers to you as 'the little cripple'). He had to overcome a withered arm and was kept in a contraption for long hours to correct a spinal curvature. One realises from this that the first world war was inevitable since the tripartite agreements of mobilisation that Bismark set up were still largely in place - also no-one had yet experienced a modern industrial war. After the war the Kaiser was exiled to the Netherlands where he found a new hobby - chopping down every tree on his estate and producing vast piles of firewood - he lived until 1941.

A great read that I found hard to put down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a fantastic book that brings history to life, 16 July 1998
By A Customer
Hannah Pakulah brings the 19th century to life in this wonderful book told largely through the letters of Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter, the Empress Frederick of Germany. The book is readable, engaging, and beautifully written, a rare combination and one which history buffs will devour with relish.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a remarkable book, 21 Feb 2001
By A Customer
I read with incredulity the reviews below which state that Daphne Bennett's work is far superior to this. What utter poppycock! This has to be one of the best biographies of all time. The research and penmanship are second to none. I read this book when it first came out and since then have read it twice more - with each reading it gets better. In comparison Daphne Bennett's book reads like a second rate Mills and Boon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into the life of Princess Victoria of England ..., 8 Aug 2014
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This review is from: An Uncommon Woman: The Life of Princess Vicky: The Empress Frederick (WOMEN IN HISTORY) (Paperback)
An insight into the life of Princess Victoria of England & the ill treatment she received in the German Court.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating story of an exceptionable life...., 30 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This biography about Queen Victoria's eldest daughter gives a very thorough insight in how this royal lady with a rather strong personality & politically very much involved, set the tone for a political stage on which Bismarck was her (equally) strong opponent. Having been so lucky to marry a royal Prince she loved, it would nonetheless have been better if her emotions towards her eldest son had been less disturbed. It destroyed any normal relationship which might have been between the two of them! The books shows very clearly how much Vicky's English background (* her mothers'influence! ) hampered her in - finally - really understanding the German/Prussian spirit. Apart from the many, extensive political-dominated chapters the book shows clearly how much research the author has done on this complex, extra-ordinary and indeed uncommon woman!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bitersweet account of one woman/mother's life, 29 Aug 1999
By A Customer
As a mother of seven myself I found it chilling that with all the express forethought, energy and loving concern that Princess Vicky put into her children's upbringing that so many turned out to be so bad,i.e. self-centered, vainglorious and utterly lacking in natural affection. The Crown Prince Fritz wrote his wife Vicky at one point about their eldest son Willy the Future German Kaiser " You can imagine how much his replies and his self-assured attitude hurt,( when queried by his father as to why he[Willy] did not send a word of comfort to his bride to be Dona at the death of her father)...only now do I recognize in him an icy, self-centered heart." I also did not realize how awful a man Otto von Bismarck was and what great harm and suffering he brought to all of the earth. I guess I am naieve but I didn't know such duplicity and evil machinations could reside in one man. I found the book all in all very informative not just historically but in relation to the taxing task of childrearing. If all of the offspring of the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia were as their parents, the world would be a better place today and surely the Holocaust would never have happened.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A dull, fumbling book!, 21 July 1998
By A Customer
I can't imagine anyone remoting liking this book unless they have a doctorate in history and a desire to suffer in dusty archives. Pakula, a very famous and wealthy woman in her own right, seems to be turning out these biographies as a hobby. According to her acknowledgements, she employs a great many people to sweat out the research for her, do the unpleasant footwork, and then file and collect and piece the ton of information together. This may work as a vanity project for some celebrity authors, but for Pakula the disjointed and extremely uninspired result is all too obvious. There's simply an endless listing of dull, lifeless facts falling together to make a book. There's absolutely no developed dramatic narrative, no depth of analysis or feeling for what might have been of far more interest to the reader. Pakula may have the ambition of her literary brother, Boorstin, but she certainly has none of his talent or his hard-won individual voice or style.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best biographies written., 15 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This is an intimate look into the life of "Vicky," the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria, who is married to Frederick, Crown Prince of Prussia ("Fritz"). Vicky was educated by her father, Prince Albert, and was probably the brightest of their offspring. Queen Victoria was an avid letter writer and expected the same from Vicky. There are numerous, appropriate, excerpts from letters written over the years. The author also manages to weave into the story the political & social climate in Europe that affected the events in Vicky & Fritz's lives. After reading this book I have often wondered if events of the early 20th Century (i.e. WWI & WWII) would have been different had Fritz reigned longer than a few months? At the end of the book, you will feel as though you really "know" the Empress Frederick.
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