King, Kaiser, Tsar by Catrine Clay

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The extraordinary family story of George V, Wilhelm II, and Nicholas II: they were tied to one another by history, and history would ultimately tear them apart.

Drawing widely on previously unpublished royal letters and diaries, made public for the first time by Queen Elizabeth II, Catrine Clay chronicles the riveting half century of the royals' overlapping lives, and their slow, inexorable march into conflict. They met frequently from childhood, on holidays, and at weddings, birthdays, and each others' coronations. They saw themselves as royal colleagues, a trade union of kings, standing shoulder to shoulder against the rise of socialism, republicanism, and revolution. And yet tensions abounded between them.

Clay deftly reveals how intimate family details had deep historical significance: the antipathy Willy's mother (Victoria's daughter) felt toward him because of his withered left arm, and how it affected him throughout his life; the family tension caused by Otto von Bismarck's annexation of Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark (Georgie's and Nicky's mothers were Danish princesses); the surreality surrounding the impending conflict. "Have I gone mad?" Nicholas asked his wife, Alexandra, in July 1914, showing her another telegram from Wilhelm. "What on earth does Willy mean pretending that it still depends on me whether war is averted or not?" Germany had, in fact, declared war on Russia six hours earlier. At every point in her remarkable book, Catrine Clay sheds new light on a watershed period in world history.

About Catrine Clay

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Catrine Clay has worked for the BBC for more than twenty years, directing and producing award-winning television documentaries. King, Kaiser, Tsar is her third book, resulting from her documentary of the same title. She is married and lives in London with her three children.
Published May 26, 2009 by Walker Books. 432 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for King, Kaiser, Tsar

Open Letters Monthly

Armageddon comes, and nearly ten million people die (20,000 in one afternoon, at the Somme), and Clay largely steps aside and leaves the narrating of military events to other authors, although by this point the steady, amenable beat of her prose is such a delight that the reader might wish she’d ...

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