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Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 28, 2008
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History To Repeat & Some To Not
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"If you need an antidote to the Disney-fied princess culture popular among young girls today, this dishy, irreverent book is it."--Atlanta Journal Constitution
"A smart, sassy overview of the 'dark side' of the crown and scepter. It makes a girl glad she was born a commoner."
--Robin Maxwell, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Boleyn
"A fascinating journey through thousands of years of the world's most dangerous job -- being queen!"
--Eleanor Herman, author of Sex with the Queen
From the Author
Your influence is on the wane for any number of reasons. The fault could be yours--maybe you weren't as clever as you thought in the scheming department. Or it could be that others are scheming against you. When the end finally comes, it arrives with the stroke of an ax at noon-- a topsy-turvy Cinderella tale--or with a drumrolled march to the scaffold. The battlefield may provide you with a convenient grave. Or you might lose your crown as you labor to bring forth an heir to the kingdom. Biology becomes destiny. Best case scenario: You will survive a coup and be allowed to live out your days in awkward exile, where opportunistic stragglers will still suck up to your royal majesty, just in case.
No matter how your end finally arrives, one truth remains: Your fall from grace is not your call, though your actions may encourage it. It is your fate. After all, you are a doomed queen--and, if one is to go by the lessons of history, the only good queen is a dead one.
For too many royal women throughout history, the scenario I've sketched here was their dark reality. The members of the doomed queens club--a club I suspect few would care to join--are legion, stretching from biblical times to the present day. Their names range from the infamous--Cleopatra, Anne Boleyn, Marie Antoinette--to those whose deaths are hidden within footnotes, such as Blanche of Bourbon and Thessalonike.
Within Doomed Queens I've presented fifty of these lives from around the globe and throughout the ages. While each queen's final destiny may differ, one fact remains consistent: Despite the perks of royalty, it's usually not good to be the queen.
Remember, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. May you read and beware.
My very best,
More About the Author
The New Yorker praised DOOMED QUEENS as "utterly satisfying" and "deliciously perverse." Her book design for DOOMED QUEENS won first place at the New York Book Show in the quality paperback category. THE BOOK OF GODDESSES was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club's Top Ten Most Popular Book. THE BOOK OF GODDESSES inspired the Goddess Tarot, as well as a Grammy-nominated chamber music suite by composer Robert Paterson. Her picture book retelling of the Persephone myth, PERSEPHONE AND THE POMEGRANATE, was noted by the New York Times Book Review for its "quality of myth and magic." She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, where she moderated a panel on the writing and marketing of literary versus commercial historical fiction.
As a visual artist, Waldherr has had illustrations published as greeting cards, book covers, and in calendars and magazines. Her art has been exhibited in many galleries and museums, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Mazza Museum, and the Ruskin Library.
Kris Waldherr works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her husband, the anthropologist-curator Thomas Ross Miller, and their young daughter. Visit her online at KrisWaldherr.com.
Top Customer Reviews
The toen of the writing is a tad bit tongue in cheek, with a small cautionary moral at the end of each presentation. (For instance, with Eva Peron the cautionary moral is "You can't rule fromt he grave.")
The pages themselves are made to look "old", and the graphics on the front cover simply draw you in without your knowing why.
There is a bonus in that a flap on both the front and back covers contains three "paper doll" figures of different queens, with background available from the Doomed Queens Internet site.
Can we as women learn from this book? Yes - this book reflects not only the history of the queens, but the history of the world - with all of its political, religious, and paternalistic overtones.
A good read, and food for thought.
The overarching theme of how women were often pawns in the power struggles of men becomes a scenario of sadness, so beyond the humor there are other points that are made. Doomed in that they often were caught up in forces beyond their control, Waldherr covers the big names like Anne Boleyn and comes up with a whole roster of fascinating figures not often mentioned in history books.
But this book also has a "guilty pleasure" quality to it with the icons of death and the pithy morals at the end of each vignette. I can recommend this enthusiastically and I'm sure it would make a fine gift for the history, historical fiction or "Tudors" fan on your holiday list!
Talk about a good, fun read, Waldherr's collection of "royal women who met bad ends" is packed with enticing tidbits that reveal the dark side of royalty and privilege in an ever volatile world. Waldherr does an excellent job choosing her queens carefully, with the inclusion of monarchs from across time and cultures; some readily identifiable (i.e., Jane Seymour, Eva Peron, Princess Diana), and some lost in the abstract vaults of long lost empires. The poignancy lies within their stories and the universal nature of their fascinating experiences. No one is spared in this assembly of matriarchs, whose untimely deaths are often as pathetic as their supposed fortunate circumstances. It's not good to be the queen is the underlying message that binds these ill-fated royal women together.
Waldherr presents each queen in a concise format that is compelling, entertaining and never boring. In fact, you will have a hard time putting this book down. You can retrieve nougats of tantalizing information by poring over the many eye-catching sidebars, anecdotes, accurate-looking illustrations, easy to read icons indicating manner of death (oooh, I loved these little death symbols!) along with a fun end-of-book quiz and even Doomed Queen paper dolls. The stories end with cautionary morals: these summations effectively inject humor and enable the reader to identify with the very human foibles/limitations that were precursors to the queens' demise. Despite their status, leadership and often rich and opulent surroundings, they could not escape the grim reaper and the equalizing swing of his scythe, or guillotine!Read more ›
There are so many doomed queens included that you might have a hard time keeping their deaths straight. No worries. Waldherr offers handy icons to accompany each tale symbolizing everything from death by child birth to a date with the executioner. Each biography ends with an irreverent "cautionary moral" that may especially appeal to teens tired of pedantic conclusions in their history lessons. What can we learn from Sophia Alekseyevna, the disaffected, half-sister of Peter the Great? Perhaps it is as simple as, "the best candidate doesn't always get the job." What does Marie Antoinette's bucolic stint as a milkmaid tell us? "When you play at being a peasant, you risk being killed by one.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book! Fun informative and entertaining would recommend to anyone into history or not. Take a peek at it!Published 3 months ago
Easy read, and very fun! LOVED learning about all the queens from history! SOME I knew about and some I did not!Published 4 months ago by Joseph Porter
Okay, so "Doomed Queens" by Kris Waldherr is not a "real" history book. It is sensationalist and silly, but fun reading. Read morePublished 5 months ago by K. Kennedy
The book was easy reading and quite entertaining. The book covers a LOT of history (time), and each story about each person was easy to read.Published 6 months ago by JIM of Myrtle Beach
This is a very entertaining read. Although it's well researched, the section on each queen is very brief, so don't expect a thorough discussion of any one queen. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Miranda Gentry
I enjoyed this book, as the Author made it comical in different places, and it kept me reading. People were really violent in those times, I didn't realize how bad.Published 7 months ago by Rita L. Shipman