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George VI: The Dutiful King Paperback – 27 Jan 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241956099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241956090
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 4.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Sarah Bradford is a historian and biographer. Her books include CESARE BORGIA (1976), DISRAELI (1982), PRINCESS GRACE (1984), SACHEVERELL SITWELL (1993), ELIZABETH (1996) and AMERICA'S QUEEN (2000). Her next book is the biography of ELIZABETH II, to be published in 2012. Sarah Bradford lives in London.


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Format: Paperback
On this day in 1952 King George VI passed away. I thought it a good idea to read again his biography by Sarah Bradford.

George VI, The Queen's father, is often dismissed as a good but unremarkable man, overshadowed by his wife, the legendary Queen Mother.

Prince Albert, Duke of York, was only the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. From childhood he had been handicapped by low self-esteem and a severe stammer. As for the entire for four royal brothers (Edward VIII, and the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent) they did not have a happy childhood. He never expected to succeed and was set with his little family to lead the life of junior royals supporting the monarch and with age fading out of the limelight. Properly a life he would have loved. But life had more in store for him. When Edward VII dragged his family and country into the abdication crisis, the Duke of York found himself suddenly a very unwilling and scared head of state - 'How I hate to be King' - he often said. Yet in spite of all his disabilities he and his wife were hard-working, diligent and popular monarchs, leading Britain during the WW II. He made the monarchy stronger than ever and left the throne to his beloved daughter in perfect shape.

This exhaustively researched biography his life and character in depth, his role as King during a time of war, and the often bitter relationship with Edward VIII, who became Duke of Windsor after abdication, his relationship with Churchill, his wife and family. Above all she shows how he had to overcome himself. A man who was not easy but determined a man one had to love and admire. Maybe reluctant monarchs are the best as they are not too eager and see the duty and service than merely the privileges their position carry.
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Format: Paperback
Warning: this review contains spoilers.

This is an excellent, well researched and organised biography - an engrossing read.

And yet, it lacks a certain critical bite. For example, the book ends abruptly with the King's death in 1952; there is no final analysis of his reign or achievements.

In many ways, the dominant personality in the book (as he was in George's life) is his brother, the Duke of Windsor. Bradford takes advantage of recent researches into the Abdication crisis, and we get a very full account of that event.

George's wartime partnership with Churchill is also well documented, though the post-war Labour government gets less attention.

Sometimes, Bradford is just too pro George - a little more distancing from her subject would not have come amiss. She may have been constrained by the fact that, at the time of writing, both his widow and daughter were alive.

Perhaps the time is not yet right for a properly objective biography of George VI. Until such time, this one will do very well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After watching the film "The King's Speech" I was curious to know more about the life and personality of George VI so I decided to read this biography. It seemed complete and extensive. And it is indeed! It's a very detailed portrait of the King's life, from his birth (which coincided with the death anniversay of his great-grandfather, Queen Victoria's husband, and for this reason was not well "taken" by the Queen) to the last days of his life (and the cancer which consumed it). What emerges is a very humble person, who had been mistreated a lot, but still had never lost his good heart and love for the others.
It was very funny to read some passages, especially about his wife and interesting to know how Elizabeth met his husband, and what the King thought of him.
Too long in some passages, but still very interesting, especially in the parts about his brother, the former king, and all the possible theories which could be behind his abdication. Absolutely a must for "George VI's fans".
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By J. Luke on 28 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is extremely well written. I am amazed at the level of research that the author has undertaken. It has taken me some considerable time to read, as I like to look at all the detail. Excellent book, I feel that I really know KG6 now.
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Format: Paperback
King George VI should have had a much longer reign than he was ultimately to do. However, as we all know now, he was not meant to reign at all. In hindsight, we were actually ruled by the right man for the job.

Sarah Bradford's informative and well written biography of King George VI shows a man who was despite all the difficulties he had, the stammer and the nervousness due to bullying - that he triumphed over his adversities and gave us the Royal Family that we have been able to have today through his eldest daughter Elizabeth.

The Abdication is well documented here along with the angst and worry that befall Bertie (as he was known at this time) and Elizabeth who was definitely the right woman for him. Their courtship is also outlined and King George V has gone down in history as advising his second son "you'll be damned lucky if she accepts you".

Many people have said that Winston Churchill was the right man to lead Britain through the Second World War, after reading Bradford's biography, I believe that George VI was certainly the right man to be our King through these times. It is sad that he wasn't King into the 1960's as he would have ended up with the warm affection held by his father George V in his later years.

The period covered by "The King's Speech" is covered in not as large an area as it perhaps could have been but read this book and watch the DVD of that film and you get a flavour of what he was like as a man.
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