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Elizabeth: A Biography of Britain's Queen Hardcover – April 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 564 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T) (April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374147493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374147495
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,086,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"There are two types of British queens," says Columbia University historian David Cannadine. There are those who hold the position strictly as wife of the king, such as Queen Caroline, the subject of a recent biography by Flora Fraser. Then there are those few who have ruled as sovereign in absence of a male heir. Among them, Queen Elizabeth II, who has ruled since the death of her father, George VI, in 1952. In her seven decades of life, she has witnessed the gradual decline of British importance and endured the public collapse of the marriages of her children. Yet she has visited more of the world than any sovereign in human history and lent dignity to her office.

From Publishers Weekly

Extracts from this biography caused a furor in the British press last month, with headlines screaming of the Duke of Edinburgh's alleged infidelities and Princess Margaret's suicide threats. Following at least three major biographies of England's Queen comes Sarah Bradford, Vicountess Bangor in private life, an aristocratic insider. She has already published biographies of George VI, Princess Grace of Monaco and Benjamin Disraeli, among others. On this occasion, claiming access to private papers (which the Palace denies she saw), Bradford has written a quiet, rather sensible biography that is neither antimonarchist nor an apology for the public problems of the Windsors. Despite the headlines, she is actually as interested in the intricacies of the royal finances (known quaintly as the Civil List and the Privy Purse) as she is in the sexual shenanigans of Princesses Margaret, Diana and the Duchess of York. Her portrait of the Queen is of a superb professional. She reports on Her Majesty's hard work, her understanding of political affairs, her attention to detail and her consideration of her staff. She also finds Elizabeth to be a woman of her times and her background, for whom confrontation and emotional display are foreign and whose attempts to preserve the monarchy have, on occasion, had unfortunate results. The great majority of this detailed biography is informative and balanced?a convincing portrait of a traditional and often anachronistic way of life, as well as of a reigning monarch. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Neil Stewart on July 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have read many things about Queen Elizabeth II and this is, by far, the best! It is well- balanced, dignified, and fairly exhaustive. If you are looking for sensationalism and "dirt" look elsewhere. This work seems to be more about truth then hype. Although Her Majesty is treated with dignity in its pages, this does not mean that her disappointments and tragedies (and those of her family) are ignored. I feel this is an very readable and honest portrait of a great woman.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By steven simington on August 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the greatest bio of Queen Elizabeth to date. Very informative book indeed. The best part of the book is the section concerning Princess Margaret, the Queens sister, and all the drama concerning her love life. Very juicy! Great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book begins at the beginning, giving details about how the Windsors came into being with previous kings, the abdication of Edward VIII, Princess Margaret's doomed romance with Group Captain Townsend, the prime ministers, and, ah yes, the in-laws. Too bad it was written just prior to Diana's death, so there are no details on insight there. Frank and mature in its telling, and not the least bit gossipy. If I were to recommend reading only one book on QEII this would be it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
The most detailed book regarding the life of HRH Princess Elizabeth, then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I've ever read. Anyone with any interest about Great Britain's queen -and her family- definitely should read this book. Although not always flattering, Sarah Bradford has portrayed HM The Queen as a real person, with real, everyday type problems, whose entire life has been dedicated to service to her country, but at the expense of a stable family life. At certain points, it's as if the queen would happily trade in her extravagent, royal lifestyle just to be like everybody else (one of her subjects).
The sources Sarah Bradford uses for her book, along with her own thorough, detailed reseach of HM Queen Elizabeth II, make for fascinating, non-stop, reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M R Wilson on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Queen Elizabeth is a marvellous and interesting woman. I loved this book and made me realise the Queen's difficulties in her job. Although, it was kind to QE II, Buckingham Palace is there to ensure that no lies are spread about Her Majesty, not to ensure she's made out to be a saint.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Julie Horger on January 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sarah Bradford, an accomplished and very thorough biographer, offers a highly sympathetic and detailed account of Queen Elizabeth II's life up to the mid-1990s. The book sparkles early with fascinating accounts of the Queen's formative years, particularly those during the scandal involving the Duke of Windsor and her father's subsequent -- and highly successful -- reign. In her presentation of Queen Elizabeth's reign, Bradford's biography is occasionally bogged down by an excess of names. The Queen's fondness for horses is also presented in extensive detail. Nevertheless, this biography is successful at providing a peek into Queen Elizabeth's life and offering insight into the Queen's dedication to her role as Queen of Britain and the Commonwealth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Graceann Macleod on December 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, I read the 1996 version of this superlative biography, but doing so offered some unsettling glimpses of the times to come for The Queen and her clan. This is a surprisingly even-handed biography which neither exploits nor glosses over the troubles in the House of Windsor, and acknowledges the kind permission of The Queen, The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret for their sharing of personal papers. The Queen is a lady I think I'd like to meet, and certainly someone for whom I'd love to work. I don't think I'd enjoy working for anyone else in her family, but she seems to be a great boss. She is portrayed as a kind woman who loves horses, and who is rather remote with her children; not terribly surprising information there. What is surprising is who attuned she is to the goings-on around her, but how she chooses to ignore many of the more troublesome aspects because she loathes confrontation. This is referred to by Sarah Bradford as "ostriching."

One of the sentences that leapt out at me in its optimism was one about Elizabeth's "ability to read the mood of her country." Just over a year later, this would prove tragically wrong when Princess Diana was killed in Paris and The Queen took almost a week to respond to the pain her country was feeling over the loss. It has been a turbulent decade since the original publication, including that awful week, and then the loss of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in 2002, and I'd like to read updated information regarding those events. I see that there is another version of "Elizabeth" updated in 2002, and I'll have to put that on my "to read" list.
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