In July 1917, facing his German cousins in a world war, George V of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha decided that if he were going to be effective as king of Great Britain he would have to replace his overly-German family name. He and all his English relatives would now represent the House of Windsor. Though not as charismatic as his playboy father, he was much loved and respected at his death. His eldest son, Edward VIII, was another matter and his abdication was undoubtedly a good thing for the country in the long run. Edward’s brother, George VI, shared their father’s shyness but became a symbol of national unity in the next world war. George’s daughter, Elizabeth II, continues to muddle along. The author relates the facts but puts them in the context of the vast changes Britain and the world experienced in the 20th century: The disappearance of the empire, the tabloidization of royal family crises, and the magnified effects of personal eccentricities and foibles on British society. (On the other hand, she seems to pass over completely the greatly enhanced role of the United States in world affairs.) The late Countess of Longford was both a committed socialist and a Roman Catholic convert, and produced several writers among her eight children, including Lady Antonia Fraser. They certainly came by their talents honestly, since their mother’s work displays both a gift for biography and an easy, communicative style that combines serious history with popular narrative. She also had obvious inside help in compiling much of the detail in this useful dynastic overview.
Condition – Dust jacket looks well read, a little worn on front and back covers; Otherwise OK