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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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"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,
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!
This book is for history buffs with its wealth of interesting details as well as anyone inclined to explore the evils of actual persons and events. The book is nicely packaged as a glossy trade and can be easily carried anywhere. That's good because it is the type of addictive read you'll want to peek inside over and over again.