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on 2 November 2011
I'm not often compelled to review, but this book deserves high praise. At first I wasn't sure about Marr straying into royal territory - I've always enjoyed his previous books about the history of Britain, but thought a book about the Queen and the monarchy might not be up my street, or his! Quite the opposite in fact - Marr lends his characteristic lightness of touch and pithy turn of phrase to the queen's sixty-year reign, revealing a fascinating portrait of the monarchy, but also of the nation. More than anything you come away with a wonderful sense of the Queen herself; the incredible itinerary she keeps up is much talked about, but Marr makes you realise quite how much she has contributed to the nation during her reign. It's a balanced account, full of insights and food for thought and you don't have to be a royalist to enjoy it.
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on 26 November 2011
Andrew Marr gives a very clear and interesting account of the Queen's life and reign, with particular emphasis on the immense amount of work she does. it is an excellent book to recommend as reading to any of those tiresome people who say 'the Queen doesn't do anything' or 'what use is the Queen?'. Actually, she is a lot of use, as this book clearly shows. Read this and decide if you could keep up with her for even a day, let alone for 60 years.
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I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Marr's book, written as the Queen marks the 60 anniversary of her accession to the throne. It is not a straight-forward biography. Indeed to write such a book would be difficult on one level because most of the time, we can only guess what its subject thinks or feels about particular issues. We can only guess for instance, how the queen felt about the behaviour of her government during the Suez crisis. Marr gathers the evidence to help us to make up our minds, but we can't know for sure. What this book does is to put the Queen's life against the backdrop of the social and political changes she has seen during her lifetime, not just within the United Kingdom but across the Commonwealth. In doing so Andrew Marr shows how the monarchy has subtly changed and adapted, since the reinvention of the modern monarchy as a "model family" under the Queen's grandfather George V, and also gives his view about why the British monarchy has survived and what it's purpose is, in a modern, multi-cultural and democratic society.
It's a fascinating read about an extraordinary life but it's also the story of how Britain has evolved as a constitutional democracy since the mid-20th century.
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on 18 December 2011
This is not a comprehensive biography, instead Marr cleverly interweaves elements of the Queen's personal life alongside the workings of the monarchy to show how they both shape each other and consolodate the position of the monarchy. This is a truly fitting analysis and tribute of a dutiful woman.
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on 25 March 2012
The Diamond Jubilee (60 year anniversary) of Elizabeth II this year seemed an appropriate time to read a biography and as there are hundreds to choose from I chose Andrew Marr's (which was written especially for the occasion) as I've wanted to read his A History of Modern Britain for quite a while now.

This is not a gossipy biography of the Queen, as Marr makes clear in the preface. Rather, it's an explanation of what monarchy means, how the British constitutional monarchy works and operates, the way the Windsor dynasty changed during the 20th century and what exactly the Queen does and how it's all paid for. There's also quite a bit of history and politics thrown in as it would be impossible to talk about the Queen's role throughout her reign without mentioning the various governments and ministers who have been in power.

As you might expect, this is a pro-monarchy biography rather than a republican one. It's unlikely to convince any republicans to change their minds but as someone who's always been a bit of a fan of our current Queen it made me admire her more for what she does on a day to day basis (and bear in mind that most people her age would have retired and been enjoying Saga holidays for the last twenty years). Marr is a very smooth writer and I found this to be a very engaging read and a good introduction to the British monarchy of the 20th century.
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on 27 December 2011
To anyone thinking of buying this, I would advise that they instead borrow it from a library because if you are interested enough to read a book like this, then you will already know most of what is in it. There are no new insights.

Sorry, but I feel as if I have read a lot of this before, from several sources, but especially Robert Lacey's excellent MAJESTY, written for the Silver Jubilee, which is heavily relied on for many of the anecdotes that appear here, inevitably inviting comparison. It has to be said that Lacey's use of language is defter, subtler and altogether smoother than Andrew Marr's.

As a Scot, Mr Marr will be familiar with the expression 'cauld kale rehet' (cold cabbage re-heated).
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on 11 January 2012
This is an excellent read for anyone who has lived for even a fraction of the Queen's 60 year reign: the presentation of the historical influences shows terrific mastery of detail balanced with the broad sweep of events; the analysis of the work done by the Queen is fascinating, and the author demonstrates clearly the significant influence of the Duke of Edinburgh in the stability of the Royal family. I found this a difficult book to stop reading, and will certainly be re-reading very shortly!!
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on 6 September 2013
I bought this book ages ago & got tired of it but, with the lack of anything else to read, decided to give it another chance. All I can say is anyone who finishes this book deserves a medal. I objected to the authors use of the word 'we' in an assumption/presumption that I shared his very biassed views. The grammar also leaves a lot to be desired!! I hasten to add I did not finish the book.
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on 7 April 2014
A very well researched and informative read - no surprise there - Andrew Marr's trademark , of course. What a was particularly delightful with was the warm and comfortable way the book was written. Many biographers of Her Majesty in the past have varied between sycophancy and hostility , but Mr Marr has steered a very even course on this one , giving praise and criticism when appropriate . A good balanced read.
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on 28 June 2012
Although the facts recounted in this book are pretty much common knowledge, the author uses them interestingly to reflect on the developing nature of monarchy through the Queen's reign, exploring her complex relationships with her government and particular politicians, the news media and the people she reigns over in this country and the Commonwealth. Any attempt to understand the Queen's character and philosophy inevitably looks at her family too and the author tries to assess how they will carry on her heritage into the future. It rambled a bit towards the end, I felt, but was still an engaging read.
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