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Diana Hardcover – September 26, 2006

34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This biography of the doomed Princess of Wales by Bradford, an experienced British celebrity biographer, was published with far less fanfare, though also embargoed, than the concurrent one by Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, it still purports to be the definitive look at what it was really like for Diana Spencer to become the princess of Wales. But even the most casual student of Diana mania will be hard pressed to find much that hasn't been told before. Bradford, the author of books about such disparate figures as Benjamin Disraeli and Princess Grace of Monaco, does offer up a more balanced portrait than some: Diana was not the brightest bulb, but her compassion for others was central and real; in spite of—or because of—this sensitivity, she was a master at playing people off each other (most notably her onetime lover James Hewitt). According to Bradford, Diana truly did love Charles and was "obsessed" with him until the end. More surprisingly, Bradford also insists that Charles genuinely loved Diana, even as he carried a torch for Camilla Parker Bowles, and that his apparent ill treatment of his wife came from ignorance more than hostility. The usual cast of famous characters appear, but two portraits particularly stand out: Sarah Ferguson and Dodi Fayed. As for Fayed, Bradford downplays it; Diana liked him, she says, but was far less interested in him, personally, than in what he could provide (private yachts, freedom from the press and—ironically, as it turned out—safety). Surely, Fayed's friends and family will not enjoy Bradford's take on him as a spoiled layabout with a cocaine problem, drug use being one the few weaknesses of which Diana disapproved. For those for whom there can never be enough said about the late princess, Bradford's book may provide some color and perspective; those looking for dish will likely be disappointed.(Sept.)
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About the Author

Sarah Bradford is a historian and biographer. Her previous books include Cesare Borgia, Disraeli, Princess Grace, George VI, Splendours and Miseries: A Life of SacheverellSitwell, Elizabeth: A Biography of Her Majesty the Queen, America’s Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Lucrezia Borgia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670038075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670038077
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By David C. Drewer on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the first proper biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, as opposed to memoirs by former employees (Jephson, Wharfe, Burrell) or more or less ax-grinding efforts by journalists (Morton, Seward, Junor). Bradford, an experienced biographer, has produced a sound and workmanlike book, and without sacrificing balance or accuracy or contending that the late princess was a flawless biped makes the best pro-Diana case to date.

After reading Bradford it is hard to deny that the Royal Family and their courtiers, the British Establishment, and especially the Prince of Wales entered into this marriage in deeply bad faith, and covertly slandered Diana when it turned sour. Clarence House trotted out Princes William and Harry to denounce Jephson, Wharfe and Burrell as traducers of their mother's memory; it would be interesting to hear their spin on Bradford's far more (justly) damning portrayal of their father.

Naturally this book relies more on oral interviews than archival research, and (with the occasional and unavoidable exception "Private information") Bradford plays fair with the reader in revealing her sources. She singles out Burrell for skepticism, perhaps reasonably, but otherwise appears to take a very trusting attitude to equally debatable sources (showing indulgence to Jephson, Wharfe, and - surprisingly - James Hewitt). I would like to believe that this favoritism was on their merits and not due to the fact that (judging from the notes) Jephson, Wharfe and Hewitt agreed to be interviewed by Bradford and Burrell didn't.

One Bob Woodward is enough.

My first reading of this book revealed two errors. Nicholas Soames, one of Diana's least savory detractors, is said to be Sir Winston Churchill's great-grandson; he was his grandson.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer from Queens on October 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and found it an extremely well researched and thoughtful biography of the late Princess of Wales. Diana's life is chronicled from her life as the youngest daughter in an influential, aristocratic British family to her untimely death in Paris in 1997. Diana indeed was from a notable family and of which she was rightly proud. The ill fated union of her parents is described as well as the impact of their turbulent divorce on their young children, especially Diana. Diana was said to be very much influenced by her paternal grandmother whose charitable works and compassion were passed on to her granddaughter (Diana's paternal grandmother looked remarkably like Diana as well--one of the portraits shown in the illustrations demonstrates this--it is a rather striking resemblance).

The center of the book is Diana's relationship with the Prince of Wales, their courtship, engagement, marriage, separation and divorce. The author maintains that Charles loved her; however, oddly enough she doesn't talk about Charles saying he never loved Diana to his biographer Dimbleby in 1994. My opinion is that he didn't love her and was attracted to her. Nobody in love would have allowed another woman to interfere in the relationship with his wife (my opinion). Another thing I would question is that the author maintains that though Diana said Charles rarely got in touch with her when she was on her pre engagement announcement trip with her mother and stepfather to Australia; oddly enough Bradford doesn't refer to Frances Shand Kydd's authorized biography where Frances witnessed Charles' neglect first hand. I am surprised Ms. Bradford didn't use Frances Shand Kydd's biography as a source.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Harris on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally a book that paints an honest picture of Diana. It doesn't make her a saint or a sinner but a needy woman who married too young to a very needy man who didn't love her. It details why she acted as she did and why she became involved in her various worthwhile activities. She was so misunderstood by the RF because she was so very different from them and they didn't know how to control her. You can certainly understand why she acted as she did in her personal life.

The book is well written and very easy read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tanya Hanson on October 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a Diana-phile, I had a good read. This book is well researched (although some credibility is strained with tags like "according to a relative" rather than identifying the speaker) and even the minituae of her life never ceases to intrigue me. But did any sort of professional edit this thing? Paragraphs 37-lines long...sometimes more than a page? With plenty of places to transition into a new one?

Not an easy read for that reason. But otherwise, Diana's fans shouldn't be disapppointed.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By SusieQ on December 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to reading this book. I thought it might be a too-glowing portrait, "poor beautiful doomed Diana that everyone had it in for", but to my great surprise and pleasure, this biography is insightful; it's sympathetic without being too overly favorable toward Diana's faults (her dark side is explored in detail). Best of all, it's spot-on as regards the characters of all the people who surrounded Diana: Prince Charles; her parents, sisters, brother; Sarah Ferguson, Paul Burrell, et al. A very full, rich portrait, very enjoyable reading (despite some odd turns of phrase that the editor should have caught)...This biography of Diana, and the one by Sally Bedell-Smith, are THE ones to read for a full portrait of the late Princess of Wales. Well done!
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