The Pity of War: England and Germany: Bitter Friends, Beloved Foes

Miranda Seymour. Rowman & Littlefield, $34 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4422-4174-9
Biographer Seymour (Thrumpton Hall), granddaughter of diplomat Richard Seymour who served in Berlin under Queen Victoria, captures the tumultuous relationship between England and Germany in this ambitious exploration of the period from 1613–1945. She opens with the union of Prince Frederick and Elizabeth Stuart—"marriage of the Thames and Rhine"—and runs through the 1840 match of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert that culminated in WWI. Long before the indelible scars created by "the pity of war," Seymour illustrates how intellectual attraction drew the two cultures together, sketching a series of illustrious Englishmen—for example, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Friedrich Schiller's translator) and William Thackeray. Most compelling is the minor royal who played a role in what might be called the family feud: Daisy, Princess of Pless—née Cornwallis-West—who in 1891 married into the German aristocracy. Daisy's position afforded her a close view of the antipathy between Kaiser Wilhelm, Queen Victoria's irascible grandson, and his Uncle Bertie, the Prince of Wales. Seymour draws on Daisy's private papers, which foretold the inevitability of WWI, and interviews with her son Hansel, which revealed her own uncomfortable position during the conflict. Every family has its differences but Seymour lays out why this particular family's intrigue is so irresistible. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 528 pages - 978-1-4422-4175-6
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