George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the
  • ebook
  • 528
  • George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I
  • M.J. Carter
  • English
  • 06 September 2017
  • 0307593029

About the Author: M.J. Carter

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10 thoughts on “George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

  1. Matt says:

    I have a joke for you hereditary monarchies That s it That s the joke Of all the ways that man has devised for cornering power, none is as breathtaking as the hereditary monarchy For centuries, kings and queens have ruled vast nations based solely on the notion that their blood is somehow royal It s utter wash, of course, as countless failed leaders have proven There is nothing special about royal blood It is the same blood as runs through our veins Except for the hemophilia The roya I have a joke for you hereditary monarchies That s it That s the joke Of all the ways that man has devised for cornering power, none is as breathtaking as the hereditary monarchy For centuries, kings and queens have ruled vast nations based solely on the notion that their blood is somehow royal It s utter wash, of course, as countless failed leaders have proven There is nothing special about royal blood It is the same blood as runs through our veins Except for the hemophilia The royals have a lothemophilia The absurdity of the crown runs like a black joke throughout Miranda Carter s triple biography, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I King George V of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia were not great men They were not even average men Quite to the contrary, they were eminently unsuited to lead a PTA meeting, much less globe spanning empires They are Exhibits A through C as to why the coincidental meeting of sperm and egg should not decide any country s transfer of power Of course, by the time World War I rolled around, that had become apparent to most thinking people Accordingly, King George V was a figurehead, Kaiser Wilhelm was constrained by Reichstag, and only Nicholas II came close to a true autocrat in fact, a true autocrat right to the end, which spelled doom for him, his wife, and his children This reality the occasional impotence of these leaders defines the contours of Carter s book The subtitle, Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, hints that the intertwining lives of these three ridiculous men had something to do with the collision in the Balkans and the resulting catastrophe in Europe That s not the case Leaving aside the infamous Willy Nicky telegrams, these three men played diminished roles of varying importance leading up to 1914, and were well seated bystanders during the July Crisis To Carter s credit, she doesn t try to prove otherwise There is no overarching theory that the blood relationships and diplomatic relationships between these three men caused or could have averted World War I This is not an academic history It is not concerned with political movements or geopolitical posturing or Balkan history or entangling alliances Instead, it is the story of three average to below average men who were all way over their heads The punch line being that none of them realized how far over their heads they were Taken that way, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm is well researched, ably presented, and easily read It is also quite entertaining Carter mostly ignores the political science angle and focuses instead on the human dimension This is the perfect route to take, because George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm were excruciatingly human There was never any hint that God or the gods smiles upon these men George is the least interesting, partially because he had no power in an England dominated by Parliament, and partially because he was a big dull dud George, in fact, perfectly embodies the modern British crown He was a fop, obsessed with clothes he had an intellect that was of nouse than a pistol packed at the bottom of a trunk if one was attacked in the robber infested Apennines and he had intense dislike for everything complex His great passions in life were stamp collecting and shooting He was very good at shooting George s obsession with aristocratic hunting beaters to flush the game, servants to carry his guns and lunch was shared with Tsar Nicholas with whom George also shared an uncanny resemblance Indeed, in 1893, Nicholas recorded 667 dead creatures for 1596 shots fired Oh, also, that was for one day Nicholas is a man difficult to hate It is, after all, hard to despise a person who was murdered in a grimy little basement along with his entire family By all accounts, he was a good husband and a caring father, who doted unceasingly on his hemophilic son Alexis He was remarkably stolid after his abdication, spending his captivity chopping firewood On the other hand, Nicholas s historical reputation has benefited greatly from sympathetic biographers such as Robert Massey He may have loved his family, but he gave two farts for the people he ruled And when you push some people long enough, some people push back Nicholas compensated for his anxious feelings of inadequacy and lack of preparedness by holding tenaciously to his belief in divine right The moment the crown had touched his head, he had become a vehicle for God s purpose and had magically absorbed a kind of spiritual superiority which made him, whatever his inadequacies, better equipped than any minister to know what Russia needed It was a mystical idea farliteral even than the pronouncements about his relationship with God which had brought Wilhelm such derision in Europe, and in Nicholas it encouraged a kind of fatalism which would make him oddly passive in a crisis It also made him extremely possessive of his authority, and sensitive to anything that could be interpreted as interference While Nicholas the family man was gentle and charming, Nicholas the emperor was often touchy, mistrustful and stubbornBy far the most fascinating and horrifyingly so leader was Kaiser Wilhelm It is rare to see so many pathologies bundled into a single person Wilhelm is the easiest of the three crowned heads to despise With his posturing, his mustache, his bellicosity, he was a caricaturist s dream His actions towards Great Britain I love you I hate you Do you like my admiral s uniform arefitting for grade school romances than a head of state His stubborn insistence on forging a great Navy, despite being a mostly landlocked country, triggered an arms race with Great Britain that finally resolved itself at Jutland Yet Wilhelm also engenderedof my sympathy than the other two He was, it seems, marked from the beginning to fail At the moment of his birth, two, or arguably three, factors, immediately had a defining effect on the life and character of Kaiser Wilhelm II Firstly, the baby s left arm was damaged in the delivery a fact which, in the relief and excitement following his birth, wasn t noticed for three days It seems likely that in the obstetrician s urgency to get the baby out before he suffocated, he wrenched and irretrievably crushed the network of nerves in Willy s arm, rendering it useless and unable to grow Secondly, and unprovably, it s possible that those first few minutes without oxygen may have caused brain damage Willy grew up to be hyperactive and emotionally unstable brain damage sustained at birth was a possible cause Thirdly, an almost impossible burden of conflicting demands and expectations came to rest upon Willy at the moment of his birth.Wilhelm s deformity, his crummy upbringing, teach a great lesson Emperors, it seems, were children once Even at his belligerent worse, I think it s possible to see the damaged child behind Willy s upturned mustache Carter s combined biography mostly concludes with the outbreak of World War I She does devote a single chapter to the three monarchs during the war however, this is obviously not adequate to maintain the level of detail previously provided This authorial decision was a bit disappointing After reading these vivid portraits, I wanted to follow these well intentioned unworthies through the ups and downs of war It s an especial shame when it comes to Nicholas s abdication, arrest, and murder Due to the compression of the entire war into one chapter, Carter doesn t have the proper space to devote to Nicholas s plight, specifically with regards to his two cousins failure to save him Having read this during the summer of Kate Middleton s pregnancy, I took a special lesson from George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm monarchies are preposterous Great Britain literally pays these people to create spectacles to entertain the masses Americans can and do enjoy for free maybethan most Brits Marriages and pregnancies, affairs and divorces, topless photos and sudden death None of it is relevant to running a country None of it is relevant to the ordinary, day to day lives of anyone This is why history is instructive The past can help clarify the present Put down that Us Weekly Turn off E Entertainment News Ignore the royal bump These are just folks, folks Fact strip away the future crown and Prince William is an okay looking fellow with male pattern baldness and the tendency towards a weak chin Democracy is often a train wreck It s often a train wreck combined with a plane crash crossed with a traffic accident Elections often come down to corporate money, demagoguery, ad hominem attacks, and popularity contests But at least no one pretends they were chosen by the heavens to rule on this earth

  2. Matt says:

    I have always been fascinated with royalty, particularly how they fit into a larger world history I have an equal interest in monarchical lineage and was enthralled to learn about how Queen Victoria left her impact with so many of her offspring playing key roles in the later 19th and early 20th centuries Miranda Carter taps into both of these aforementioned interests with this book, which seeks to highlight the lives and choices of three grandsons of the former queen Nicholas of Russia event I have always been fascinated with royalty, particularly how they fit into a larger world history I have an equal interest in monarchical lineage and was enthralled to learn about how Queen Victoria left her impact with so many of her offspring playing key roles in the later 19th and early 20th centuries Miranda Carter taps into both of these aforementioned interests with this book, which seeks to highlight the lives and choices of three grandsons of the former queen Nicholas of Russia eventual Tsar Nicholas II , Wilhelm of Germany Kaiser Wilhelm II , and George of the United Kingdom George V These three men proved to be completely different in their leadership style, but also held strong affinities for one another during the lives Offering biographical pieces of each throughout the tome, Carter starts by exploring the early years of these boys, noting that they all lived in their respective countries and did not see one another with any regularity When they could, it was surely great fun and the three countries were amicable throughout On one end of the spectrum was Wilhelm, the oldest, who soon became enthralled with the politics of Germany, a powerful military country in Europe He was shaped by this strong sentiment towards defence and did, on occasion, puff out his chest and use the iron fist he was given to keep other countries in line Carter depicts him as the most international of the three, with his focus almost exclusively outside the borders of his own country, permitting the government to handle domestic issues The second grandson and the youngest of the three , Nicholas, also lived in a country of much military might and political maneuvering Russia sought to exert its place on the world scene, becoming a powerful force in the European and Asian theatres, exacting its own control with a strong military, though always leery of other countries trying to flex their muscle too ostentatiously Unlike Wilhelm, Nicholas had also to deal with domestic issues and a rise in socialism within the country, which directly challenged his role as monarch Such a vast territory would need constant attention and the tsar handled things as best he could on the domestic front to quell internal squabbles whenever possible George, by contrast, was so separated from the goings on in the international political arena, that he tookinterest in steering clear of any major decisions or even the attempted lessons his father tried to instil for his eventual ascension to the British Throne Carter argues that George V spent much of his time as a true constitutional monarch and overseeing the domestic situation of Great Britain, with Ireland pushing for its own independence and India beginning to ask for its own voice, as well as other local matters in which the British governments were always embroiled Truly a contrast between these three men from their respective powerful countries.As Carter explores in the latter portion of the book, the start of the 20th century was one in which these three men were forced to come into their own and show much of their aforementioned leadership Wilhelm sought to confirm alliances with others, including his Russian cousin, sure that they would be needed if ever Britain or France sought to push their might It is highly interesting to see some of the thoughts of these leaders during this time, particularly knowing their a common bloodline existed By the time George became king in 1910, his cousins had a firm grip on power in their respective countries and Germany was solidifying alliances that would prove interesting when all the political dominoes came tumbling down in 1914 Carter explores the give and take between the three, with amicable telegrams, positioned themselves for an inevitable war without turning on one another personally Three men, all tied together by a common grandmother, had such diverse and politically different lives, which is truly fascinating to the attentive reader That they remained cordial and respectful of one another throughout was evenintriguing Carter lays down some strong arguments about how these three men acted in their own ways and the decisions attributed to them paved the way to World War I Great reading for those passionate about somewhat modern European political history, as well as those who love to trace royal lineage throughout the numerous countries with monarchs.I am not sure why I chose to let this book collect virtual dust for so long, as I was captivated by the premise and became evenenthralled when I started it Miranda Carter collects information on these three figures and presents it with ease She is keen to draw some parallels between the men, while also contrasting their choices under similar historical goings on The reader familiar with these men will surely find new and exciting narratives on which they can learn , while the layperson with a keen interest will be flooded with wonderful information to begin their own personal exploration of the time period The book is effectively divided into four parts, denoting time periods, with chapters that focuses the attention on each of the men as they handled their respective domestic and international issues Carter fills each chapter with needed information but does not appear to inundate the reader, scaling back where it suits the tome Extensive research has surely gone into this piece, depicting the multi perspective surrounding Europe as a powder keg in the years leading to the Great War Fabulous in its presentation and content, I can only hope to findby Miranda Carter to explore additional topics that intrigued her Kudos, Madam Carter, for this formidable piece I love history and this was right up my alley I hope others will find it as helpful or interesting.Love hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge

  3. Eric_W says:

    OK, I haven t read this book I will, maybe but I was pissed after reading a review Here s part of a review that demonstrates why I often hate reviews in the NY Times Book Review Last two paragraphsGeorge, Nicholas and Wilhelm is an impressive book Ms Carter has clearly not bitten offthan she can chew for she as John Updike once wrote about G nter Grass chews it enthusiastically before our eyes You turn this book s pages with interest, however, but rarely with eagerness. OK, I haven t read this book I will, maybe but I was pissed after reading a review Here s part of a review that demonstrates why I often hate reviews in the NY Times Book Review Last two paragraphsGeorge, Nicholas and Wilhelm is an impressive book Ms Carter has clearly not bitten offthan she can chew for she as John Updike once wrote about G nter Grass chews it enthusiastically before our eyes You turn this book s pages with interest, however, but rarely with eagerness It s a volume that never quite warms in your hands, packed perhaps too airlessly with what Ms Carter describes at one point as backstabbing, intrigue and muddle That phrase would have made a good alternative title First paragraph says it s impressive Fine And then goes on to make another compliment after some silly, gratuitous name dropping that the author chews it enthusiastically Not one of Updike sfelicitous metaphors.OK, I m interested, sounds positive, right But then, WTF, comes the seemingly negative, but rarely with interest Because the book never quite warms in your handspacked too airlessly, Huh Filled with backstabbing, intrigue and muddle, which makes it sound interesting again Obviously the writer of this review is staring in the mirror, preening with self satisfaction at having sounded sufficiently erudite and opaque so we haven t a clue what to think.edited to include maybe

  4. Chrissie says:

    I highly recommend this book What it does in an exemplary fashion is show the reader who George, Nicholas and Wilhelm were You learn not only of their actions, but also of there varying temperaments This is a biography, not a dry history book It is well researched, and will be fascinating to those of you who want to look at the personalities of these three cousins At the same time you will come to understand why WW1 occurred why in fact it was practically inevitable Political disputes and I highly recommend this book What it does in an exemplary fashion is show the reader who George, Nicholas and Wilhelm were You learn not only of their actions, but also of there varying temperaments This is a biography, not a dry history book It is well researched, and will be fascinating to those of you who want to look at the personalities of these three cousins At the same time you will come to understand why WW1 occurred why in fact it was practically inevitable Political disputes and family disputes are intertwined I loved learning about Queen Victoria, the three cousins grandmother This book whets the readers interest in numerous other historical figures too, such as Queen Victoria, Bismarck and Vicky, Wilhelm s mother If you have not read about the Archduke Franz Ferdinand you will need to read other books that focus on him I liked The Assassination of the Archduke Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World You simply cannot find just one book about all of the people and events leading to WW1 The book is well researched It is filled with many, many quotes that reveal the idiosyncrasies of each character They are not cardboard figures The beginning of the book starts with three chapters, each respectively about the childhood of the three cousins As adults their interactions and others roles are detailed The political climate is carefully depicted What was happening in not only the Balkans but also Africa, Japan and China Of course, Great Britain under Queen Victoria and her offspring, Russia under Alexander II and III and Germany all of this is covered The historical facts are interwoven with family celebrations, marriages, birthdays, shared summers together and deaths As in any family there are disputes and happy memories Jealousies, competition and family quirks.This is a book about political and familial tensions The book covers the time period from the middle of the 1800s through the war and after the war until each of the cousins deaths What happened to Kaiser Wilhelm after the war It is all here Of course the Russian Revolution too, Nicholas abdication and his family s death, Rasputin and Alexi s hemophilia.I didn t love the book as much in the end as I did in the beginning Why I am not quite sure Maybe it is because I listened to it rather than read it Let me explain The narrator, Rosalyn Landor, used one theatrical voice, a gruff British male voice, for all the different men For me, I associated this voice with Wilhelm, but in fact she used exactly the same intonation for all of the quotes voiced by men I became confused and unsure who was speaking Is this George or Wilhelm or Nicholas, or in fact somebody else WHO is talking now I would have to rewind And why did I always assume that it was Wilhelm speaking he is German Usually, I try and rate the written book, but here the narration caused me confusion and affected my appreciation of that written For this reason it has influenced my rating The confusion doesn t happen in the beginning of the book the reader knows exactly who the author is speaking of I wish Landor had just read the book without adding a theatrical presentation If she wanted to dramatize the voices she should have used different intonations for the three cousins I have only read two chapters, but am impressed and totally captivated The first was on Wilhelm s youth, the second on George s and now comes Nicholas You really feel like you get to know the families of these three cousins I love learning about Queen Victoria, their grandmother The author makes their lives interesting and fills the book with interesting facts There is a lot to learn here I am even tempted to start over again to hammer into my headof the details I do believe that one s personality is largely influenced by childhood experiences How did these three leaders, King, Czar and Kaiser come to be shaped This author presents the facts in such a manner that the reader wants to knowandandand is interested in what is presented in other words the text is not dry even though it is chock full with facts

  5. Karla says:

    Monarchy LOLZ.6 7 18 New Yorker article by the author on one of the most amazing illuminating aspects of this excellent biography What Happens When a Bad Tempered, Distractable Doofus Runs an Empire Link Monarchy LOLZ.6 7 18 New Yorker article by the author on one of the most amazing illuminating aspects of this excellent biography What Happens When a Bad Tempered, Distractable Doofus Runs an Empire Link

  6. Boudewijn says:

    As I previously read in Queen Victoria s Matchmaking it was Albert s and later Victoria s dream to create a network of European monarchies, where conflicts between the various European empires could be solved during a Christmas dinner Instead, a King, a Kaiser and a Czar which happened to be each others cousins, happily went to war It was perhaps Albert s greatest mistake to assume that Kings, in the modern world of the early 20th century, still would be able to shape modern politics In f As I previously read in Queen Victoria s Matchmaking it was Albert s and later Victoria s dream to create a network of European monarchies, where conflicts between the various European empires could be solved during a Christmas dinner Instead, a King, a Kaiser and a Czar which happened to be each others cousins, happily went to war It was perhaps Albert s greatest mistake to assume that Kings, in the modern world of the early 20th century, still would be able to shape modern politics In fact the three monarchs were ill equipped by education and personality to deal with the modern world, and with the exception of George were not able to prevent the outbreak of World War I.In this book Miranda Carter realties a personal history of the three monarchs But at the same time she shows how this history also shows how Europe moved from an age of empire to an age of democracy , self determination and greater brutality.We have the often colourless and stamp collecting George who, within the British constitution played a necessary but entirely formal and ceremonial role As a matter of fact, it didn t matter who was King, as long as he was sober and followed the rules How different for Wilhelm II, who in the evenings designs fancy new uniforms, while his government is trying to keep his faux pas to a minimum And finally there is Nicholas, who as a self proclaimed reclusive is his palace is unaware of the revolutions in his country and in the end is forced to abdicate and murdered by the Bolsheviks.Only for George the story doesn t end with a tragedy He alone managed to hang on to his throne until eldest son David, aka Edward VIII, gave it away in 1936The world is full of Kings and Queens, Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams

  7. Dorothy says:

    This was brilliant For anyone interested in the road to WWI this is a wonderful synopsis from the perspective of the exhaustion and decline of autocracy, monarchy and empire Using the familial relationships among Victoria, Edward, George, Wilhelm and Nicholas Carter pulls the reader into the conflicting pulls on the leading monarchs of their day amid the challenges of nationalism, republicanism, socialism and the last gasps of aristocratic and colonial entitlement Along the way we are provide This was brilliant For anyone interested in the road to WWI this is a wonderful synopsis from the perspective of the exhaustion and decline of autocracy, monarchy and empire Using the familial relationships among Victoria, Edward, George, Wilhelm and Nicholas Carter pulls the reader into the conflicting pulls on the leading monarchs of their day amid the challenges of nationalism, republicanism, socialism and the last gasps of aristocratic and colonial entitlement Along the way we are provided poignant and stark portraits of the characters under the crowns Victoria s selfishness, Wilhelm s maniacal madness, Bertie s appetites, George s stodginess, Nicholas s mystical fatalism, Alexandra s fearfulness and the many diplomats, courtiers, hangers on and politicians who had to wrestle with their monarchs and a world plunging inexorably to war Ultimately, this is the story of global expansion and coexistence and clarifies the legacy we live with today A must read for any student of history

  8. Lois says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this I really found this easy to read I listened to this on audiobook and didn t realize at first that the author was using quotes and I was upset at the language used Once I understood that the author was making a point of including how racist these monarchs were I enjoyed it.The references to the yellow race and natives savages etc is jarring but important.This war will drag in the colonies and involve all kinds of innocent parties.I had not understood how t I thoroughly enjoyed this I really found this easy to read I listened to this on audiobook and didn t realize at first that the author was using quotes and I was upset at the language used Once I understood that the author was making a point of including how racist these monarchs were I enjoyed it.The references to the yellow race and natives savages etc is jarring but important.This war will drag in the colonies and involve all kinds of innocent parties.I had not understood how the scramble for africa contributed to underlying tensions that also contribute to the hostilities of war.Fascinating.This book also includes the knowledge that the countries involved in WWI were well aware that a conflict like this could result in a devastating war like WWI.They knew and did it anyway

  9. Suzannah says:

    This book was long, dense, and detailed From the endorsements on the cover I expected something a littlerollicking, but historical detail is often a trade off with readability, and it s quite a fair trade.This book is a look at the lives of Tsar Nicholas II, King George V, and Kaiser Wilhelm II in the years from their birth to World War II, with additional focus on Queen Victoria and Edward VII Carter is absolutely unsparing of each man s foibles Although when war actually came, Wilhelm This book was long, dense, and detailed From the endorsements on the cover I expected something a littlerollicking, but historical detail is often a trade off with readability, and it s quite a fair trade.This book is a look at the lives of Tsar Nicholas II, King George V, and Kaiser Wilhelm II in the years from their birth to World War II, with additional focus on Queen Victoria and Edward VII Carter is absolutely unsparing of each man s foibles Although when war actually came, Wilhelm tried to prevent it, his years of hysterical and unstable rule, his worship of the hyper masculinised German army machine and his refusal to allow the Reichstag any control of it meant that when war did come, Germany quickly and quietly transformed into a military dictatorship Although Nicholas II was a quiet, gentle, and doting family man, he firmly believed that despite his own manifest incompetence to rule his utter ignorance of life beyond the gates of his own palaces, the inability of any one man to personally administer the government of millions he nevertheless was magically gifted to rule purely by virtue of the fact that he was the tsar Thousands of Russians peacefully begging for liberty and representative government were murdered following his orders and when he was finally forced to allow them a representative assembly the Duma he did everything he could to obstruct it George V, the only man who seems to have learned anything at all from his experiences, was simply a painfully dull, ignorant, incurious, and tactless man of whom it was once said that For seventeen years, he did nothing at all but kill animals and stick in stamps George is, however, the only gleam of grace in this book Like his grandmother Queen Victoria, he found the knack of presenting himself to his people not as a symbol of the divine right of an autocrat to rule, but that of the people to govern themselves Harold Laski is quoted as saying The Monarchy, to put it bluntly, has been sold to the democracy as the symbol of itself Ever since Victoria there has been something decidedly bourgeois about the English monarchy, and it was George V who made the conscious decision to institutionalise this Nicholas and Wilhelm had lived lives totally detached from those of the people they governed, to the extent that Nicholas had no idea of the worth of money George wanted to present the English crown in the words of his secretary, Stamfordham as a living power for good, with receptive faculties welcoming information affecting the interests and social well being of all classes, and ready, not only to sympathise with those questions, but anxious to further their solutionif opportunities are seized, during His Majesty s visits to industrial centres, in conversation with the workmen, to show his interest in such problems as employers and employed will have to solve, these men will recognise in the Crown those characteristics may I say virtues which I have ventured to enumerate above In other words, as disinterested by engaged with the people, especially the working classes.This is without a doubt the secret for the perpetuation of the English monarchy to the present day Wilhelm and Nicholas were determined to be autocrats, ruling supreme and for their own benefit The English crown, however, traded power for survival and saw their role as being the servants of those they govern Americans often scoff at the Royal family for being welfare queens but today, the House of Windsor annually contributes millions of pounds worth of revenues from crown property and thousands of millions of pounds worth of tourist revenue to the UK, as well as working hard to present a personal, engaged, and gracious face of British government to the people.THE THREE EMPERORS is a fascinating look at the last gasps of royal autocracy in Europe As history marches on, autocratic power whether in the church, the state, or the family becomesanduntenable, and people who were once content to live subject to the whims of the divinely appointed becomedemanding of freedom it can be no mistake that in China and Russia, the two largest Communist nations, Communism replaced an imperial regime that was actually possiblyrepressive and demeaning than even Communism itself Eventually, there must be repentance or judgement This book was detailed and not a particularly fast read, but it was utterly illuminating

  10. Sweetwilliam says:

    I have managed to write a review that is longer than the actual book but I found the subject matter so interesting that it was hard not to talk about it If you are interested in the monarchs that ruled pre WWI Europe and how these royal cousins ushered in the war than this is a must read for you The beginning of the book focuses on Queen Victoria probably the last effective monarch in England At the time of Victoria, the English Monarchs still had sway and a veto In Germany and Russia, the I have managed to write a review that is longer than the actual book but I found the subject matter so interesting that it was hard not to talk about it If you are interested in the monarchs that ruled pre WWI Europe and how these royal cousins ushered in the war than this is a must read for you The beginning of the book focuses on Queen Victoria probably the last effective monarch in England At the time of Victoria, the English Monarchs still had sway and a veto In Germany and Russia, the Kaiser and Tsar still ruled supreme The royals believed that blood ties between countries were the best way to preserve peace Therefore, Victoria s grand children, through a series of arranged marriages, wound up as monarchs in about a dozen countries across Europe Wilhelm and George were both grandchildren of Victoria and Czar Nicholas s wife Alexandria was Victoria s favorite grandchild At the turn of the century however, running a country was becoming too complex for a Monarch whose qualification to rule was merely birth right The Czar was completely sheltered and raised in opulent wealth His first language was English and he hadGerman blood than Russian The Kaiser took on an active role in all matters He was even an Admiral in the British Navy He took this honorary title way too seriously and was considered a bit of a royal horse s ass by all George liked to hunt birds sometimes with his cousin Nicky They would take 1100 game birds in a single day Meanwhile, Wilhelm s saber rattling, Navel build up, and general competition with England put in motion what Wilhelm could not stop Tsar Nicholas knew this war had the potential to lead to disaster Just a few years prior, in 1905 the Tsar was talked into a conflict with Japan by his advisers This had led to a lopsided defeat and plunged Russia s economy into a tailspin The Russian people, the general public, and the German army wanted war At the last minute, the three cousins tried to stop the conflict but it could not be stopped During the war, George changed the family name from Saxe Coburg s to the Windsor s The Kaiser helped initiate the Bolshevik revolution in order to take his cousin out of the war George could have given asylum to his cousins but he inexplicably refused The Czar and Czarina and their family helped to usher in a new era by becoming the first victims of a new type of government that was good at only one thing Killing off their own citizens When the war ended the reign of the Hohenzollern s and the Romanov s was over The Saxe Coburg s Windsor s lost eveninfluence