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on 30 November 2017
Everything's ok
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on 13 June 2009
This book (like everything by D.C.) is a brilliant piece of writing, wonderfully written and thoroughly researched.
Being very interested in the French Revolution for many years I was intrigued by the title of the book and had to buy it, hoping to find some new facts, but actually was totally captivated by the story and the superb writing.
The first half of the book tells us a tragic and controversial story of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before the Revolution. The second half is about the French Revolution and what happened to the King's family during this time. The central enquiry of the book is what happened to the child Louis XVII after he was imprisoned in the Temple following the French Revolution. It finishes with the long awaited result of how the young prince died, when through the use of modern genetics a conclusion is reached, which puts to an end two centuries of speculations about the royal line (which are profoundly investigated by the author in this book as well).
The book touched me deeply, often brining tears to my eyes. Though it is a well-research historical work, but it is written in such sympathetic manner that the tragedy and horrors that the little Louise-Charles, Marie Antoinette, Marie-Therese and Louis XVI were subjected to are absolutely heart-breaking. Even when I wasn't reading the book, I couldn't stop thinking about their suffering and terrible destiny.
The book as a whole is an absolute page-turner, which is unusual for this type of a book, but makes it even more worthwhile.
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on 11 October 2011
This book provides the reader with a well-told and well-researched story of the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution and the use of DNA to solve a 200-year mystery. I found it to be a moving account and a well told piece of history which was very enjoyable to read, so much so that I couldn't wait to get to the end of the book to find out did the DNA prove or disprove the story in the book of the tragic end of a little boy caught up in the Terror.

The author's use of first-hand accounts throughout the book forcibly reminds us that the Terror was known as such for a reason. When citizens marched on the Tuileries:

"As people fled from the palace, anyone who had defended the king - or was even dressed like a noble - was mercilessly hunted down. One woman reported glimpsing through the blinds of a house 'three sans-culottes holding a tall handsome man by the collar'. When they had 'finished him off with the butt of a rifle', at least 'fifteen women, one after the other, climbed up on this victim's cadaver, whose entrails were emerging from all sides, saying they took pleasure in trampling the aristocracy under their feet'. During the day, over nine hundred guards and three hundred citizens became victims of the hysterical slaughter."

And again when describing what happened to Princesse de Lamballe:

"Dragged from her cell and hauled before a kangaroo court, when she refused to swear an oath against the queen she had been sentenced to death. There are differing accounts of her horrendous murder. According to some, she was raped before she was hacked to death, and then mutilated, with her genitalia and heart cut out and mounted on pikes. In other versions she was - mercifully - knocked unconscious before her death. Her head was twisted onto a pike and taken to the Tower; her naked body was dragged through the streets..."

Overall this is a great story and for me a page-turner. Even if you have read extensively on the French Revolution I am sure you will still appreciate the account in this book and find many things to still surprise you.
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on 8 April 2013
A superbly researched and masterly written book, I would recommend it to anyone who has even the mildest
interest in history. It isn't just an historical book but a modern piece of detective work too, that kept
me hanging on in suspense to the very last page. Hugely evocative of the period, it conveys an understanding
of the people of the time and the harrowing experiences they must have endured that you won't find in any
old dry history book. Everyone knows of the princes in the tower but few have even heard of Louis
charles capet and his tragic story but they should do so. Read this and you won't ever forget his story
or the fate of those around him. It certainly made me look at the victims of this revolution in a completely different
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on 11 October 2013
After reading Antonia Frasers 'Marie Antoinette' and Susan Nagels 'Marie Thérèse' I knew I had to read this book. From the other pieces of literature I had read I knew Louis Charles fate was a pitiful one. But this book brings the harsh reality of what the French Revolution meant to this little boy to life. The book gives a very detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the French Revolution, the events that lead the Royal Family to the Tower and their deaths (excluding Marie Thérèse who was the only prisoner to leave the tower alive) and the hunt for the real Dauphin, which spanned centuries.

It is a fascinating topic, the book is a real page turner. The revolutionaries were mere blood thirsty radicals. The treatment of this innocent little boy beggars belief. To basically entomb someone alive is what happened to Louis Charles, after he was abused, I'll treated and plied with alcohol in order to give damning evidence to secure his mother and aunts rendezvous with the guillotine.

The book was a wonderful read, very very sad and the use of todays technology settled the dispute of the centuries as to wether the little boy who died in the tower was actually the Dauphin. With speculation as to wether Louis Charles had escaped from the tower meant there were always going to be imposters ready to pretend to be him in order to enhance their own lives. Deboragh Cadbury takes the more plausible imposters in turn to record their claim to the title of Louis VXII. When the little boy in the tower died the autopsy that was undertaken by the doctor ended up with the extraction of the boys heart. The heart itself had a very eventful journey through time and finally in his century answered the question to 'who was the little boy who died in the tower'.

There was an irony that everyone who played a part in the emotional and physical torture of this little boy met a nasty end themselves and beyond the grave the little boys voice was heard. Without doubt one of the best books I have ever read. I can't recommend enough.
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on 18 March 2003
A masterpiece in every sense of the word, the author manages to hook you from the first page and you'll find it well nigh impossible to put down. This book reads like a thriller and Deborah Cadbury somehow manages to interweave historical facts with such suspense and masterful anticipation that I guarantee you'll be bleary eyed the next day. Without any hesitation whatsoever I would recommend this book to not only those who have an interest in history but to anyone that enjoys reading in general. Bravo Deborah for such a remarkably sad but thrilling book.
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on 18 September 2011
This book is very well written. It is hard to put it down, it is so exciting, but also sad. The cruelty towards the Dauphin, Louis XVII, is unbelievable. This book gives you a good insight of what happended to the royal family in France during the French Revolution - and this in detail.
I can really recommend this great book - and not only to the ones that are interested in history. Thanks to DNA the truth about this little boy, who had to suffer so much, could be found out at last.
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on 10 July 2003
Deborah Cadbury's book simply cannot receive enough praise. It is easily one of the best books I have ever read, and I have been an avid reader since childhood - devouring Massie's biography of Nicholas II at the age of nine.
This book is totally compelling and I had it finished in just over one day. The sympathetic appraisal of the royal family's standing and the authors ability to add a humanising touch to all the historical personalities mentioned is breathtaking. What is particularly pleasing is the way in which "lesser" women of the royal family have their stories told as well - particularly Louis XVII's aunt, Elisabeth, and his sister, Marie Thèrèse.
The author cleverly links the life and legend of Louis XVII from his childhood at Versailles to the 21st-century tests to ascertain the truth of his death. Cadbury's finest narration comes from her harrowing descriptions of the royal family's imprisonment after the revolution and of the heartbreaking abuse inflicted upon Marie-Antoinette's son, Louis-Charles, better known to history as Louis XVII.
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on 28 October 2015
An interesting book for those interested in European history and royalty. The subtitle ‘How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’ makes it clear that this is not going to be a read for us romantics who like to believe that Louis XVII escaped prison during the Terror and grew to adulthood. The early chapters deal with the history of his parents Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, the Revolution and all the horrors of the imprisonment of the family which has been written about extensively elsewhere – though useful if one is not already familiar with the subject. The central chapters are where it becomes interesting. These deal with the various theories of the boy’s escape, and subsequent claimants to be the lost, uncrowned king (Louis XVII) - most notably that of the Prussian watch-maker, Karl Wilhelm Naundorff, the most convincing of all. A lot pages are given to describing the mechanics by which the boy might have been rescued and taken from his prison and another substituted in his place. However, the premise that Naundorff was an impostor overshadows the whole of the book. This is due to it being written in 2002, after the DNA testing on the alleged heart of the Dauphin/King, and because this investigation came down on the side of ‘proving’ that Naundorf was not Louis XVII, the author tends to echo the opinions of those who dismiss his story as unworthy of serious consideration. It has been a controversial subject for centuries, and shows no signs of being any less so in future. I believe that the very most recent DNA testing leaves the door open once again to Naundorff’s possible authenticity, at least as being of Bourbon descent. So this is a good book to balance with one that perhaps has a more favourable approach to the evidence (and there is a lot of evidence) that the young Dauphin/king survived into adulthood.
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on 13 October 2012
Deborah Cadbury's book is incredible! I found it quite difficult to read the unbelievable amount of abuse and neglect this boy suffered. I think most of us are aware of the brutal excesses of the French Revolution. Many innocents died under the cry "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," yet to read the story of the young Dauphin, Louis Charles, is to realize there was an even greater dimension of cruelty and barbarism that these men sank to in their "noble" quest for freedom. It is impossible to read this book and not hope that one of the "Dauphins" is the real one. I just wish more had been explained as to why some of them were so successful and what details they provided that were so authentic. Perhaps none of this is really known, but it would be an interesting study nonetheless. Naundorff seemed to know quite a lot of private information regarding the royal family. This is never reconciled with the findings at the end of the book. I believe the mystery still lives on! The background to the French Revolution is provided in an easy to read and understandable manner and Cadbury's writing style is clear and straightforward. I read it in less than 24 hours. Highly, highly, recommended.
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