King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War

Catrine Clay, Author . Walker $26.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1623-1

How did WWI happen? Was it the inevitable product of vast, impersonal forces colliding? Or was it a completely avoidable war that resulted from flawed decisions by individuals? Clay (Princess to Queen ), a documentary producer for the BBC, inclines strongly to the latter explanation, and she brilliantly narrates how just three men led their nations to war. Forming a trade union of majesties, King George V (Britain), Kaiser Wilhelm II (Germany) and Czar Nicholas II (Russia) were cousins who together ruled more than half the world. They were a family, and thus subject to the same tensions and turmoil that afflict every family. They had "played together, celebrated each other's birthdays... and later attended each other's weddings," but still, while George and Nicholas were close, Wilhelm was something of an outsider—a feeling exacerbated by his paranoia and self-loathing. Over time, his sense of exclusion and humiliation would avenge itself on the family and eventually contributed strongly to the murder of Nicholas and the loss of his own throne. Clay's theory does have a hole—though not ruled by the "cousins," France and Austria-Hungary also played major roles in the outbreak of war—but that does not detract from the ingenuity and pleasure of her narrative. 35 b&w photos. (July)

Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 07/01/2007
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-7195-6537-3
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-8027-1677-4
Open Ebook - 978-0-8027-1883-9
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