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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for any royal book collection
In 1948, King Farouk of Egypt is reportedly quoted as stating:

"The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left--the King of England, the King of Spades, The King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds."

He was incorrect. While the House of Windsor is, by far, the most media prominent, it isn't even remotely the...
Published on 28 May 2012 by Marilyn Braun

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what the title suggests
This review refers to the Kindle edition of this book. The Kindle edition itself is good, although without the pictures that (I presume) are present in the paper editions.

Perhaps a bit naively, I was expecting more of a historical analysis of the political, social and psychological reasons for the survival of Europe's monarchies to the present age...
Published on 14 July 2012 by P. Bartl


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for any royal book collection, 28 May 2012
In 1948, King Farouk of Egypt is reportedly quoted as stating:

"The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left--the King of England, the King of Spades, The King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds."

He was incorrect. While the House of Windsor is, by far, the most media prominent, it isn't even remotely the only one left. Excluding their Asian, African and Middle Eastern counterparts, six other European countries are monarchies: Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and the Netherlands. Not to mention the royal rulers in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and principalities of Monaco and Liechtenstein. These are The Great Survivors. How they survived when other royal houses tumbled and continue to endure in the twenty-first century is something Peter Conradi (co-author of The King's Speech) tackles in his new book.

The author compares and contrasts the royal houses, covering territory on how they're funded, their controversies and scandals, succession, political power, and grudging love-hate relationship with the media. Clearly, there's more to the relationship between many of these royal houses than their link to Queen Victoria. But researching this information in any depth would require consulting several sources. Now it can be found in one. For someone like myself, with a passing interest in these monarchies but lacking the energy to delve into individual details, this book is a valuable and fascinating resource. A must have for any royal book collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what the title suggests, 14 July 2012
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P. Bartl - See all my reviews
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This review refers to the Kindle edition of this book. The Kindle edition itself is good, although without the pictures that (I presume) are present in the paper editions.

Perhaps a bit naively, I was expecting more of a historical analysis of the political, social and psychological reasons for the survival of Europe's monarchies to the present age (non-European monarchies, such as Japan's, Thailand's etc are mentioned just in passing). In this, I was disappointed.

The bulk of the book is a collection of information on the biographies of the present monarchs, their spouses, heirs, family members, etc, with a lot of attention devoted to their personal relationships - but not, let me make it clear, in a gossipy way. After you read the book, you are up-to-date on who the present European monarchs are, who their immediate predecessors were, and who their children, heirs to the throne, and close relatives are and what they have been essentially up to. So, if your purpose is to become informed on the present members of the royal families and what they've been generally up to, this book is excellent.

But the impression I got is that most of Europe's present royals are essentially well-meaning but rather average people who are at the same time "condemned" to play a role they didn't choose, but which at the same time demands little from them except being reasonably "respectable" and decent and not particularly weird. None of them struck me as being anything but average, which suggests to me that to call them "survivors" is a bit of a stretch, if that is taken ot mean that they actually possess any particular survival skills. Arguably only Spain's King Juan Carlos deserves credit in this respect, while Prince Charles, on the contrary, seems to be totally lacking in that area. Peter Conradi does touch on all of this, and he is knowledgeable when he does; the pity is that such considerations cover only some ~20% of the book, with the bulk of it consisting of such things as reporting in eventually boring detail the successive romantic partners of every prince and princess in Europe.

To give an example of what I mean. I lived in Belgium for a few years, and it was obvious that the Belgian monarchy is in many ways a far more interesting subject than the British monarchy. The King of the Belgians, Albert II, is both politically more powerful, and arguably a less impressive character, than Elizabeth II; and his sons, Philippe and Laurent, are essentially embarrassments. Yet the Belgian monarchy enjoys very strong support - in the French-speaking Wallonia, and not so much in Dutch-speaking Flandres. The explanation for this is not that the Walloons are particularly "monarchist" as such. Rather, there is increasing support in Flandres for the eventual break-up of Belgium, a prospect that, on the other hand, terrifies the Walloons. Since the monarchy is one of the few institutions in Belgium that are truly representative of the a country, rather than of one of its regions (the others being "the soccer team and some beers", according to Yves Leterme, a recent prime minister), it makes perfect sense to associate the survival of the monarchy with the survival of Belgium itself. That is what accounts of this huge difference in support fo the monarchy between Walloons and Flemish. Conradi does touch on this - but very little. Yet this is a perfect illustration of how the survival of monarchies can be due to far larger factors than the survival skills of the royals themselves - skils which, I would argue, neither Albert II, nor his rather silly queen, nor his sons, posses to any degree, unlike his brother and predecessor, Baudouin.

I got the impression that Conradi is perfectly able to write a book with a much greater focus on the historical and political reasons for the survival of European monarchies, yet he - or his editor - chose to focus far more on the biographies of the royals (this book reminded me of Sueotonius's "Lives of the Caesars"). Which is ok - as long as you know what you're getting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 6 Oct 2012
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I am a Royalist indeed but maily with regard to the UK Royal Family. However, while I was aware of some of the facts in this book there were many more that informed me in a very logical and interesting way. A good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book, 9 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made it into the Twenty-First Century (Paperback)
I found this book to be a fascinating read. A must for any Royal Fan. It is interesting to read about the European Royal Familes also. How dysfunctional some of them are!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars If you like to read Hello..., 2 Nov 2013
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If you are a fan of European monarchy or just interested in how something so undemocratic has survived so long then you might enjoy this simple but well written account of how it all came to pass and for some, all came to an end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Royalty, 2 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made it into the Twenty-First Century (Paperback)
This is a book that I couldn't put down once I had started it. There are so few overall books on European royalty and this book is rational and informative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Opinion, 23 Mar 2013
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M. E. Boden (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made it into the Twenty-First Century (Paperback)
I'm still reading it and enjoying it very much and it is very interesting and very easy to read and enjoy
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5.0 out of 5 stars not as good as I thought it would be, 18 Aug 2014
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not as good as I thought it would be
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