- Series: Penguin Monarchs (Book 7)
- Hardcover: 112 pages
- Publisher: Penguin UK; 1 edition (November 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014197737X
- ISBN-13: 978-0141977379
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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George VI: The Dutiful King (Penguin Monarchs) Hardcover – December 30, 2014
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The book's size is probably commensurate with the biography of a monarch who reined for just 16 years and who didn't live beyond his 57th year. Nevertheless, one can't help feeling that it does little more than scrape the surface of its subject matter, for all that the author does his utmost to reassure his readers that George VI was in no way a deep or complicated man. Something about this book left me strangely unsatisfied, all the same.
Another problem is that Philip Ziegler constantly assumes that his readers will be familiar with most of the book's additional cast and so provides them with no introduction and precious little gloss. Whilst it is perhaps a reasonable assumption that figures such as Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain need no such introduction, it may be asking a bit much for younger readers especially to know just who Herbert Morrison, Hugh Dalton or even Ernest Bevin might be. The text can also be confusing at times, principally because of the things it fails to explain for those who are unaware of the complications of, for instance, the naming of royal personages. It is never made clear, for examnple, just why 'Prince Berty', as he is referred to throughout the book, should later be crowned as King George VI, or why 'his brother David' became (briefly) Edward VIII. Or what it means that Prince Philip of Greece "had no name".
These minor faults and irritations notwithstanding, the book does a good job of dispelling many of the rumours and myths which have over the years surrounded George VI and his actions, setting the record straight once and for all regarding his attitudes both to various of his family members and to his duties and responsibilities in general. More than anything, the book does an excellent job of emphasising the sense of duty that George displayed throughout his life, and how important was the role he (and his wife) played in humanising the role of the Crown and securing a place for the monarchy in the hearts of the British public for generations afterwards.
In short: an interesting, if not an exactly riveting read.