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Customer Review

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars imperfect but mesmeric, 6 Jan. 2010
This review is from: The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One (Hardcover)
Like many books today Miranda Carter's account of the years leading to the First World War is not edited enough. Sometimes the crisp narrative becomes dull and one seems to tread old ground. The dating confuses every so often. As the extended royal family of northern Europe naturally communicates on Christian name terms it would be good to have consistency but nicknames intrude and force one pause for thought too many. But this is a pretty readable read. The influence of kings, as, in this case, it fades, but nonetheless with a glow, has something like a mystical resonance and, while other factors were critical - of course it was never uniquely the fractured personalities and poor education of the monarchs of the great powers that led to confrontation and disaster - the catastrophe of the 1914-18 War becomes plausibly an almost necessary consequence of the autocratic muddle in Russia (to which the Czar was committed), and the fatal separatism of the German military (to which the Kaiser contributed); and of the restrictive caste code of the era (which all supported). There is a hint that the political ambitions of royals, even the restricted constitutional royals of Great Britain, were tinged always with risk, given that Edward VII's European diplomacy contributed to the involvement of his country in continental stress, committing Britain ultimately to war. Anyone with an interest in Queen Victoria should certainly take a look, as Carter's account of Europe's grandmother is beguilingly tough.
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