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King, Kaiser, Tsar : Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War - Catrine Clay

King, Kaiser, Tsar

Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War

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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Drawing widely on previously unpublished royal letters and diaries, made public for the first time by Queen Elizabeth II, Catrine Clay chronicles the riveting half century of the overlapping lives of royal cousins George V of England, Wilhelm II of Germany, and Nicholas II of Russia, and their slow, inexorable march into conflict in World War I. They saw themselves as royal colleagues, a trade union of kings, standing shoulder to shoulder against the rise of socialism, republicanism, and revolution, and in 1914, on the eve of war, they controlled the destiny of Europe and the fates of millions of their subjects. Clay deftly reveals how intimate family details had deep historical significance, causing the tensions that abounded between them. At every point in her remarkable book, Clay sheds new light on a watershed period in world history. 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. Drawing widely on previously unpublished royal letters and diaries, made public for the first time by Queen Elizabeth II, Catrine Clay chronicles the riveting half century of the overlapping lives of royal cousins George V of England, Wilhelm II of Germany, and Nicholas II of Russia, and their slow, inexorable march into conflict in World War I. They saw themselves as royal colleagues, a trade union of kings, standing shoulder to shoulder against the rise of socialism, republicanism, and revolution, and in 1914, on the eve of war, they controlled the destiny of Europe and the fates of millions of their subjects. Clay deftly reveals how intimate family details had deep historical significance, causing the tensions that abounded between them. At every point in her remarkable book, Clay sheds new light on a watershed period in world history.

"Clay expertly weaves the story . . . with remarkable expertise, she provides an intimate look inside the lives of these boys as they grew into manhood and became king, Kaiser, and tsar, bringing new pleasures and details to a well-known subject."--"Library Journal" (starred review)
"How did WWI happen? Was it the inevitable product of vast, impersonal forces colliding? Or was it a completely avoidable war that resulted from flawed decisions by individuals? Clay, a documentary producer for the BBC, inclines strongly to the latter explanation, and she brilliantly narrates how just three men led their nations to war. Forming a trade union of majesties, King George V (Britain), Kaiser Wilhelm II (Germany) and Czar Nicholas II (Russia) were cousins who together ruled more than half the world. They were a family, and thus subject to the same tensions and turmoil that afflict every family. They had 'played together, celebrated each other's birthdays . . . and later attended each other's weddings, ' but still, while George and Nicholas were close, Wilhelm was something of an outsider--a feeling exacerbated by his paranoia and self-loathing. Over time, his sense of exclusion and humiliation would avenge itself on the family and eventually contributed strongly to the murder of Nicholas and the loss of his own throne. Clay's theory does have a hole--though not ruled by the 'cousins, ' France and Austria-Hungary also played major roles in the outbreak of war--but that does not detract from the ingenuity and pleasure of her narrative."--"Publishers Weekly "(starred review)
"Events in Europe leading up to--precipitating--World War I are viewed through a purposefully narrow lens in this excellent example of consistently gripping, smoothly flowing narrative nonfiction. Clay sets herself the task of investigating the degree of personal responsibility for contributing to the outbreak of war in 1914 that can be placed on the shoulders of three European monarchs who not only ruled more than half of the world but also were cousins on close terms with one another: erratic, out-of-control Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany; likable but ineffectual Czar Nicholas II of Russia; and the much more ordinary but much more successful keeper of his throne, King George V of Great Britain. The author inquires into their upbringing, education, marriages, and relations with each other--in essence, everything about them as individuals that can speak to how and why World War I broke out. As so graphically witnessed here, family history back then, when the family happened to be royal, often made "national" history."--Brad Hooper, "Booklist
""Did sibling rivalry lead to the slaughter that was World War I? This psychobiography makes a good case in the affirmative. BBC documentarian Clay delivers only a bit of news, but lights up some of the shadows in the lives of the cousins who would become George V, Wilhelm II and Nicholas II. Georgie was a bit of a thickie, Willie a born victim and Nicky pleasing but ineffectual. Each, descended from Queen Victoria, had unusual burdens, but young Wilhelm had more than his share. Mauled by a doctor's forceps on delivery, he could not easily do some of the things other boys of his age and class did, such as ride a horse or shoot a bow. When Nicky and Georgie came over to Germany to play, they often left Willie out of the proceedings; moreover, Nicky never liked Willie personally, and he 'was snubbed by his English relations, again and again and often with relish, feeding his paranoia and playing right into the hands of the Anglophobes, ' the Prussian nationalists who came to dominate his administration. Small wonder that as early as 1910, Germany was spoiling to go to war to avenge the slights against its thoroughly militarized (if, we learn, gay) emperor; small wonder that Wilhel

"Clay expertly weaves the story...with remarkable expertise, she provides an intimate look inside the lives of these boys as they grew into manhood and became king, Kaiser, and tsar, bringing new pleasures and details to a well-known subject."--Library Journal (starred review) "[Clay] brilliantly narrates how just three men led their nations to war."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Clay lights up some of the shadows in the lives of the cousins."--Kirkus Review " Clay expertly weaves the story... with remarkable expertise, she provides an intimate look inside the lives of these boys as they grew into manhood and became king, Kaiser, and tsar, bringing new pleasures and details to a well-known subject." -- Library Journal (starred review) " [Clay] brilliantly narrates how just three men led their nations to war." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) " Clay lights up some of the shadows in the lives of the cousins." -- Kirkus Review

ISBN: 9780802716774
ISBN-10: 0802716776
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 8th July 2008
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.96 x 13.97  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.42