- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: The History Press; 07 edition (22 Mar. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0750937890
- ISBN-13: 978-0750937894
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,218,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Divided Kingdom: The Spanish Monarchy: The Spanish Monarchy, from Isabel to Juan Carlos Hardcover – 22 Mar 2007
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About the Author
John Van der Kiste has written numerous books on British and European royalty. His most recent are Sons, Servants and Statesmen: The Men in Queen Victoria's Life and, with Coryne Hall, Once a Grand Duchess. He also writes historical articles and reviews for local and national journals, and contributed to the New Dictionary of National Biography.
Top Customer Reviews
However, "A Divided Kingdom: The Spanish Monarchy, from Isabel to Juan Carlos" will not go down as my favourite book by him. While being his usual self with regards to style in writing he does not match his other works in terms of content.
This is first of all a book about the Spanish sovereign and their personalities. So the political history of the monarchy remains often vague, unclear and disconnected from the main acting personalities. But even his description of the kings and queens remains on the surface, never gets deep and offers new and convincing insides. If one has never ever read anything on the royal Spanish House and family one might be satisfied with it as it offers one a first inside, however even on this basis one is left dissatisfied.
It seems to me that John Van Der Kiste has not at all consulted original Spanish sources. His bibliography is quite revealing in this sense. Therefore he never gets to the bottom of things and presents more or less the picture from the British sources he seems to have consulted. This is really disappointing from a renowned author like von der Kiste. So the real deep understanding of the personalities, their time and Spain during this period of time is missing. Still it is an entertaining book, but it remains only on the surface.
I only wanted one. I was told I would be reimbursed for the other two, which I havent had all the money refunded back yet. So Im obviously not too happy about that. This was also purchased for my Mother so again I dont know. Id just like the rest of my money back please.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book chronicles the lives and in some cases the loves of the Spanish monarchy. While not in the same league as John Bergaumini's "The Spanish Bourbons," this is an interesting book just the same. Unlike Bergaumini's book which chroncles the lives of some fairly impressive ruler or at least notable art patrons, Van der Kiste does not have quite as impressive material with which to work. What he does have are several interesting domestic dramas capped off by a genuine heroic figure (King Juan Carlos) who appears against the odds to be a throwback to the Spanish rulers who reign prior to the period covered by this book.
The messy private lives of "their Catholic majesties" begins with Isabel II who is in a class by herself. Probably the messiest aspect of her life was that she was a sexually active woman who was forced to marry a homosexual. It is practices like this that bring down monarchies down since it is difficult to respect the guardian of traditional values when she is trolling for company. The marriage brokers who arranged such a mess defined suitability as the correct bloodlines. In reality they lacked the sense that any peasant capable of raising livestock has in abundance.
Alfonso XIII is the next major figure and it is he who graces the cover of the book. Although he was on the throne for most of his life, ultimately he lacked the skills necessary to avoid the pitfalls of Spanish politics in the 1930s despite the advice of a granddaughter of Queen Victoria (who he treated very shabbily).
Ultimately it is King Juan Carlos who is the only figure that produces feelings of admiration in the reader. Although dismissed as a lightweight and given earlier occupants of the throne, this is an easy assessement to make, he emerges as a genuine heroic figure in the way he prevents Spain's emerging democracy from failing. He was in 1981 when a military coup loomed large, the right man at the right time.
The primary failing of this book is that it relies too much on gossip and not enough on solid historical research to tell its story. I think the section on Juan Carlos could have been expanded and more could be done on his moment, when in February 1981 he stood up to the military and put the presige of the monarchy at stake for the future happiness of his people.