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George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 23, 2010

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George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I + King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400043638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400043637
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The slippery slope into horrific armed conflict is a tale often told about World War I, but this author’s take on the antecedents of the European war of 1914–18 is distinct. Carter views the shifting alliance entanglements of the Great Powers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and especially the growing animosity and rivalry between Britain and Germany, with particular focus on the attitudes and actions of three royal first cousins: Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, and King George V of Great Britain (who also reigned as emperor of India, hence the book’s title reference to three emperors). Rich in concrete detail, elegant in style, and wise, fresh, and knowledgeable in interpretation, the author’s account observes a profound anachronism at play: that these three monarchs, in what they didn’t realize were the waning days of the institution of monarchy, handled foreign diplomacy as if it were a family business. Despite the reality of growing fissures separating their countries, “each emperor continued to paper over the cracks with cousinly gestures, each increasingly irrelevant.” Europe plunged over the precipice of war in August 1914, revealing in stark terms the inability of royal familial ties to control and contain national disagreements; as the author has it, the fact that Wilhelm, Nicholas, and George were out of touch with actual politics could not have been more apparent. An irresistible narrative for history buffs. --Brad Hooper


Praise for Miranda Carter's George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm:

“Miranda Carter has written an engrossing and important book. While keeping her focus on the three cousins and their extended families, she skillfully interweaves and summarizes all important elements of how the war came about…Carter has given us an original book, highly recommended.” ---The Dallas Morning News

"Masterfully crafted. . . Carter has presented one of the most cohesive explorations of the dying days of European royalty and the coming of political modernity. . . Carter has delivered another gem." --Bookpage

"Ms. Carter writes incisively about the overlapping events that led to the Great War and changed the world. . . George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm is an impressive book. Ms. Carter has clearly not bitten off more than she can chew for she -- as John Updike once wrote of Gunter Grass -- 'chews it enthusiastically before our eyes.'" --The New York Times 

"An irresistably entertaining and illuminating chronicle . . . Readers with fond memories of Robert Massie and Barbara Tuchman can expect similar pleasures in this witty, shrewd examination of the twilight of the great European monarchies." —Publishers Weekly

"A wonderfully fresh and beautifully choreographed work of history." —Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
"A hauntingly tempting proposition for a book . . . The parallel, interrelated lives of Kaiser Wilhelm II, George V, and Nicholas II are . . . a prism though which to tell the march to the first World War, the creation of the modern industrial world and the follies of hereditary courts and the eccentricities of their royal trans-European cousinhood . . . An entertaining and accessible study of power and personality." —Simon Sebag Montefiore, Financial Times

"Carter draws masterful portraits of her subjects and tells the complicated story of Europe’s failing international relations well . . . A highly readable and well-documented account." —Margaret MacMillan, The Spectator

“I couldn’t put this book down. The whole thing really lives and breathes – and it’s very funny. That these three absurd men could ever have held the fate of Europe in their hands is a fact as hilarious as it is terrifying.” – Zadie Smith

"[An] enterprising history of imperial vicissitudes and royal reversals." --The New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

The research is very, very well done.
William Alexander
The book is very well researched and presents many details about the royal families in Europe before World War I .
Amazon Customer
This book is for those who want to know very much more about one of the most nostalgic times of the past.
Evangelina Cervera G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 96 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Miranda Carter has produced an excellent biography of three prominent men of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. King George V of Great Britain, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany were the rulers of three of the most powerful states in the world. George and Wilhelm were first cousins as grandsons of Queen Victoria, while Nicholas II was George's first cousin (their mothers were sisters), married to another of Victoria's grandchildren, and a more distant blood relation of Wilhelm's. Their tangled family trees meant the three men, who were all about the same age, grew up knowing but not necessarily liking each other, and their personal feelings affected their nations' political and foreign policies during their reigns.

The biographies of all three men have been written many times, but Carter's comparative approach allows for many new psychological and other insights to be made. There are many anecdotes, including many that I, though I have enjoyed reading about that time period for many years, had not previously come across. Some of the stories are hilarious, particularly those dealing with the Kaiser's madcap efforts to make and unmake alliances and wars. In the end Wilhelm seems to have been the most intelligent (but also most erratic) of the three, while Nicholas, although more perceptive than he's generally assumed to have been, was still far too passive and ignorant of his country's troubles. George was the most enigmatic to my mind, primarily because as a constitutional monarch he took care not to make his opinions (if he had any) well known.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Pollock on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rather expected this heavy tome to be heavy going. I was pleasantly surprised to find it moved at a brisk pace, was skillfully written, and told a ripping good tale. The period covered - the events of the last decades of the 19th century and leading up to the first World War - has not been the focus of much literary attention in recent years. Miranda Carter, using a plethora of primary and secondary sources, brings this period to vivid life. The three royal personages of the title, George V, Tsar Nicholas, and Kaiser Wilhelm, prove remarkably interesting considering they were either ordinary or worse than ordinary. They ruled during the last years of European royalty, and only the English king managed to survive the Great War. I look forward to finding some of the historical sources listed in the comprehensive bibliography for further reading. This book is an excellent starting point on the origins of World War I and the characters of its royal protagonists.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By hasselaar VINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a most interesting description and viewpoint of the era preceeding and leading up to WWI. The perspective taken is one seen through the eyes of the 3 main hereditary rulers of the time ( The rulers of Great Britain, Russia and Germany). This gives an interesting insight into the bungling and lunacy which delivered WWI to the world.

The premise of hereditary right to rule is completely destroyed by this book. One is appalled that the system ever existed to begin with. There have been many books written about each of the 3 monarchs, as well as the times before and during WWI. This is the first book that I have read that takes one behind the scenes of the personal rivalries of the rulers of Russia, Great Britain and Germany and allows one to view their stilted and limited capabilities, along with the "enabling" of the royal courts and the politicians .

At times, the feeble workings of the mind of Kaiser Wilhelm lead to utter disbelief that such an unfit individual was allowed anywhere close to the seat of power. His cousin, the equally clueless Tsar Nicholas of Russia, was equally well-endowed in the area of brain power. The British royal family demonstrated a complete lack of ability and came across as childishly as their cousins abroad. But,as they had no real power, they were easier to regard as mere performers of an ancient ritual. The royal family served to amuse and entertain the people,their ridiculous antics filled the gossip papers of the time, they were the equivalent of the "stars" of the reality shows which are so esteemed by some today.

Do read this book for a most interesting perspective of just how the vanities and falsehoods of relatively few individuals, led to the disaster that was World War I
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53 of 64 people found the following review helpful By SusieQ on April 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What I did not like about this book was the often snarky; occasionally impatient, definitely non-professional-historian, attitude that this author takes to her three subjects and the times they lived in, throughout the book. It's an almost blog-ish style of authorship: the quick reveal about one and then it's onto the next. The research this author has done is apparent, but the superficial intonation she brings to her writing is very hard to take. This is a shame, because GEORGE, NICHOLAS AND WILHELM, I will grant, is more substantive than Catrine Clay's similar (but truly terrible) "King, Kaiser, Tsar"; has fewer errors than that book (although at least twice within the first pages, this author refers to one of her sources, Princess Marie Louise, as Princess "Mary" Louise. Sheesh...) and has better chapters about the beginning of the First World War. These qualities earn my stars.

But principally I felt this author was merely regurgitating everything she's read about the three rulers. There's no new information and it's certainly not very compellingly presented.

For better written, and more insightful views on these men and their times (and also their mothers, or the women they married), I would suggest reading these biographies instead (some of which are cited by Ms.
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