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on 17 March 2002
This is an in depth and informative book which at the same time remains very easy to read and enjoyable. It looks at Elizabeth's relationship with her family, husband, children, the Windsors, her advisors and her Prime Ministers and gives you an insight into Elizabeth as an individual. It gives you an indication of what has shaped her, what interests her and helps the reader understand her behaviour during the more difficult periods of her reign. This is about as intimate a biography as can be possible given Elizabeth's status and career and Sarah Bradford does a good job.
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on 9 May 2002
Its fluent and personal style makes excellent reading; the historical context is fascinating and personal issues are treated discreetly but openly. A must for everyone interested in Her Majesty, her life, her job, her background and british history.
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It must always difficult to write a biography of an individual yet living - after all, what is a biography but the story of a life, and surely one can only get the necessary perspective when one can see the entire picture. How much more difficult it must be when that yet-living-individual is the Queen, and as a result so many aspects of her life, the most personal and therefore most interesting from a biographical point of view, are shrouded in mystery and protocol and etiquette. Not to mention the lack of access to relevant documentation which is no doubt hidden away in royal archives for an unknown period of time.

That said, this is a brave effort from Sarah Bradford, an sympathetic yet not hagiographic portrait of a woman who has left her mark on everyone's lives, aware of it or not. It is hard to understate the impact and importance of the Queen - she has served as a pillar of stability for the nation through thick and thin, a unifying figure above party, politics, creed or code. The one theme which emerges from this book, and one assumes the central theme of the Queen's life, is her dedication to duty, her awareness of the responsibilities of her position, the price royalty must pay for the privilege they enjoy. Elizabeth II is very much like her father in that, something I noticed all the more having read Bradford's biography of George VI immediately beforehand.

Which brings me to my one criticism of this book - almost the entire first quarter, effectively the entire period of Elizabeth's life up to her father's death, is almost identical to passages from Bradford's George VI. It doesn't detract from either book separately, and admittedly it must be difficult to revisit identical group in a new way, but I was having distinct sensations of deja vu reading the two in this order.

Elizabeth emerges from this pages with great credit, and even in those areas where she has been held to the greatest criticism, namely her lack of the maternal instinct and prioritising of her role as Queen over that of mother one finds it hard to hold it against her. She has been Queen through perhaps the most tumultuous and testing period in the monarchy's history, when the very institution itself has been held up to the greatest scrutiny in the glaring light of modern media - and yet the recent events of her Golden Jubilee demonstrate just how much affection she inspires in the British public, and much of that is down to her as an individual.
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on 30 May 2014
Having already enjoyed Sarah Bradford's biography of Jaqueline Kennedy, "America's Queen", I had little hesitation in getting this when I saw it in great condition in a charity shop. Mine is a paperback (1997), but at the current price it's also great value as an e-book.

Just like the bio of the former first lady, it's well researched and substantial, packing in over 530 pages in my paperback. As well as giving much of the background to the earlier period of the Queen's life and reign, there are many details about most of the main events of the middle to late 20th century - including much of the politics.

There are some drawbacks. Much as I like Bradford's work, she is what I call a commercial historian; she will tell some truths, but will happily exclude others. The book is also biased towards her Majesty. On page 243 Bradford calls the Queen "personally the least self-important of women", and that is pretty much the whole tone of the book: reverential.

The book also disparages Edward VIII as a "bad apple" (I am not sure why) and is not very sympathetic to the Queen's childhood governess, Marian Crawford who published a book about her time raising the Queen and her sister, The Little Princesses: The Story Of The Queen's Childhood By Her Nanny Crawfie. We had to be told that her marriage failed after she left her job at the Palace; as if the Royal Family are role models for the rest of us! (We know Prince Philip has been doing it with high-class hookers since the 1940s.)

Readers should note that the book (at least my paperback edition) finishes in 1997, so it leaves out one of the most important events in the Queen's reign, the death of Princess Diana. This is helpful because at least Bradford didn't have to deal with books like The Murder of Princess Diana. Bradford did happily ignore books like DOPE INC (written in 1978) which alleges (with much evidence)that the Royal Family are centre-stage in international narcotics. "Elizabeth II: Queen of the Drug Dealers". Now that's a book I'd like to read.

A.M.
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on 6 February 2016
My wife really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to doing so myself very soon .She recommends it to any one interested in the Royalty.Thank you .
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on 8 March 2015
Well written, but need to 'think' as the book gives fab details.
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on 30 October 2014
Excellent read I love these books didn't want to put it down
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on 24 December 2011
This is an exceptionally well researched and written biography of Her Majesty the Queen. It is by far the best biography I have read of her. It should be read alongside Ben Pimlott's biography of the Queen.
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