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The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor Hardcover – June 23, 2005

3.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

London journalist and longtime Windsor-watcher Junor (Home Truths, Charles: Victim or Villian?, Charles and Diana: Portrait of a Marriage, etc.) considers the British royal family's continuation into the 21st century in this sympathetic account, covering Diana's death to the present day. The explanation, Junor believes, lies both in the "magic" of the monarchy and in the family's organization into the titular businesslike entity, a phrase coined by Prince Philip. She asserts that the value of the monarchy-during this era without hierarchy, deference and respect-is to act as "a fixture in this morass" of modern life. Junor has met nearly all the royals, as well as many of their associates, and her observations plus long excerpts from interviews give the book an insider feel. This is a favorable, respectful portrait: Junor tempers any criticisms with admiring descriptions of the royals' good deeds, especially their charity work. And despite the book's subtitle, she doesn't dwell on the royal scandals, focusing instead on the details of her subjects' lives and personalities. This approach generates some extraneous chapters, such as the passage exploring the minutia of the Queen's private interests (e.g. horses). However, this book's depth and gentle commentary on a subject usually dominated by tabloid exposés should gratify those with an affectionate interest in Britain's monarchy. Color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It is as a family-owned and -operated company that veteran royalty-watching British journalist Junor examines the contemporary British monarchy. Her book, then, reads like a company history, from the House of Windsor's recent PR mistakes and accomplishments to what goes on in "board" meetings (i.e., what the royal family talks about among themselves). The author acknowledges her monarchist beliefs, seeing the good of the institution for Britain and forecasting its continuance. She admits her appraisal is subjective, but obvious, too, is her considerable knowledge and well-balanced perceptions. Insisting that "it is very easy to lose touch with reality if your life is spent at Buckingham Palace," Junor sees the damage done to the monarchy by the disastrous marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and, rather astonishingly, she lays considerable blame for the problems of the House of Windsor over the past two decades at the feet of Camilla Parker Bowles--or, rather, at Charles' feet for refusing to give her up long ago. Subjective, yes, but a solid analysis of the monarchy. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; New title edition (July 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312352743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312352745
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gregory Johnson on August 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although the reading was easy and interesting there was not much new information to learn. Also, it seemed as though the author needed pages of quoted information from others just to fill up the book time after time again. I would recommend checking the book out of the library rather than buying it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While this book does contain some new and interesting information; on the whole it clearly is not historiography in any normal sense of the term. The book reads like a series of newspaper columns untouched by editing or a thematic approach.

The author does however, as they say in the tabloids, 'name names' (whether or not the average reader knows who they are.)

As a piece of gossip and current events it bears reading; but a reader looking for serious scholarship or even decent biography should wait for the paperback edition.
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Format: Paperback
If you are into reading about how great and wonderful Prince Charles and Camilla are, and how Diana simply got in the way of their great romance, this is the book for you...

All books on royals seem to be one-sided and this one is clearly written by a fanatic of the monarchy...which is fine, if that is what you want. Just don't expect an unbiased read.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Junor's book is a good read for lovers of the British Royal Family. Much of the latest news is included, and there are some handsome photos.

If I had one complaint, it would be that a bit too much time is spent on the interests of the Prince of Wales. Several chapters are devoted to his pursuits.
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By Clara on November 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Don't waste your money on this book! It is only a pep rally for Prince Charles. Diana comes off as a spoiled brat who couldn't do anything right and Charles is a saint! It takes two to ruin a marriage so I don't think he's blameless.

It touches a bit on the rest of the royal family, but all of them come off as saints as well. Queen Elizabeth handled Diana's death perfectly, and it was all Sarah's fault that her and Andrew's marriage collapsed.

To write a book about anyone I think you have to see both sides and Penny Junor unfortunately, didn't do that. This is a big zero to me.
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By wabanug on October 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love things about the royal family. But this book put me to sleep faster than a double dose of Ambian.
Penny is a Prince Of Wales fan, through and through. And she quite likes Camilla. This felt like reading a book written by the Prince's PR machine.
The most disappointing book about the Windsors ever. Too much minutia and not enough substance. I agree, check it out of the library! Caution. DO NOT BUY!
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Format: Hardcover
Junor describes the nuts and bolts of how this institution runs. She covers the funding, the ownership, the organizational structure, how the ceremonies are arranged, how often chandeliers are cleaned. We get sketches of the principals and their staffs and their frustrations in managing their images through the fallout of Diana's star power and other less momentuous set backs.

I didn't know that the monarch can dissolve parliament and declare war, nor of the other powers on p. 398; nor did I understand the foundation (very loose) of the Commonwealth (p.289).

While there is a lot of information, it is not well organized. I didn't know what a lot of things were. Some are not explained, but some are explained in later chapters. This not very good organization and long quotes, make the book seem very much like it's been cut and pasted from previous columns and interviews.

The last chapter, discussing the future of this monarchy, gives some comparative information and contains a lot of quotes. It's a disappointment, because this chapter should have been substantive.

The current family has made itself relevant through charitable work, recognizing national achievement, being interesting to tourists and being helpful to the British Department of State. They (and their staffs) put in long hours, and are no doubt dedicated to their country and their work. It seems to me that this institution will probably fade when a generation of monarchs, themselves, tire of it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I tried reading this yesterday as soon as I got it, but after the first three chapters, I had to put it down.

I enjoy biographies that tell both the postive and negative side of a person or insitution; this book mostly promotes the positive side of Prince Charles, and doesn't really tell of his negative side.
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