The Windsors at War

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474623933

Price: £25

ON SALE: 9th March 2023

Genre: Humanities / History / Military History / Second World War

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At the outbreak of WW2, the British monarchy was in a state of turmoil. The previous king, Edward VIII, had abdicated the throne, leaving his unprepared and terrified brother Bertie to become George VI. Meanwhile, as the now-Duke of Windsor awaited the decree that would allow him to marry his mistress Wallis Simpson, he took an increasing interest in the expansionist plans of the Führer of Germany.

The Windsors at War tells the story of the turbulent and seismic decade in between 1937 and 1947, including the bombing of Buckingham Palace in May 1940, the Duke of Windsor’s ill-advised visit to Germany in October 1937 and the death of the Duke of Kent in a plane crash in August 1942. It answers a simple question: how did this squabbling, dysfunctional family manage to put their differences aside and unite to help win the greatest conflict of their lifetimes?

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Reviews

This riotous and engaging biography has it all ... This book is even more rollicking than its predecessor - this is an author having an enormous amount of fun with his subject ... What Larman does so brilliantly is to give us two brothers who could not be less alike, two wives who clearly loathe one another, visions of two very different, but very loving marriages
Alex Preston, Guardian Online
The Windsors at War opens with a bravura prologue ... Larman sharply contrasts the grim reality the world was facing with the solipsistic petulance of the duke and duchess ... Fortunately, The Windsors at War is about a great more than them. If it has a hero it is the shy, complex man who never had the slightest desire to be king and made extraordinary efforts to rise to the job, finally earning the unqualified admiration of world leaders ... What makes it fresh is Larman's use of recently disembargoed diaries and letters ... The recounting of the story of the handsome, sexually omnivorous, dope-addicted Kent, who reeled from affair to affair (Noël Coward was said to be among his lovers) but was transformed by war service into a brilliantly effective commander until his still-mysterious death in an air crash in the Highlands, is particularly vividly done. Nothing in the book, though, can compete for sheer entertainment with the Windsors' governorship of the Bahamas ... Every detail of it seems to have been penned by the Queen of Crime herself
Simon Callow, The Sunday Times
Alexander Larman's masterful follow-up to The Crown in Crisis combines thrilling action scenes with political skulduggery and intimate character studies of everyone from King George VI to his brother and nemesis, the Duke of Windsor. Deeply researched, fascinating and compelling from start to finish.
Dan Jones, author of Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages
Forget Prince Harry; here we have the truly jaw-dropping story of two kings, where the spare had become the heir and believed his brother was trying to kill his family with German bombs. Forget about the American wife who frets about royal titles and wears blood diamonds gifted by a murderer; here is one of the most stylish women of the 20th century, mingling with the Nazi enemy. This is an important story, as well as a gripping one, informed by never-before-used material. We hear the verdict of history on a couple who wanted privilege without responsibility and dealt with the devil to achieve it. I read this brilliant book in one sitting
Leanda deLisle
As profound and exhilarating as it is revelatory - and it is highly revelatory. Larman is a natural-born storyteller with a keen eye for a precious anecdote. I relished this
Daisy Dunn, author of Not Far From Brideshead: Oxford Between the Wars
Alexander Larman's 'The Windsors at War' is genuinely revealing, politically insightful, scrupulously researched, and has the narrative pace of a champion thoroughbred. It is also an eloquent study of two royal brothers, and of duty and betrayal.
Tina Brown, author of The Palace Papers
A dashing prince with a respectable war record squandered public support by marrying an American divorcée, moving abroad and sponging off dodgy acquaintances. He was obsessed with titles, more than a little pleased with himself and flirted with dangerous causes, but thought he could bypass the British establishment by using the US media. The more he moaned, the worse became his lot. Prince Harry should read Alexander Larman's The Windsors at War ... breezily written [it] retells a cautionary tale
The Times
A gripping, fast-paced and absorbing work
CATHOLIC HERALD
An insightful, pacy study of the original feud between royal brothers ... It shows how George VI became a Second World War hero after the abdication of Edward VIII - and suggests that the latter may have given insider information to the Nazis. Better than Spare
Laura Hackett, The Sunday Times
A detailed and fascinating account
Tessa Dunlop, The Spectator
A worthy successor to Larman's excellent account of the Abdication Crisis, exhaustively researched and written with wit and brio, The Windsors at War proves conclusively that the Duke of Windsor betrayed both his brother King George VI and his country. If there is ever a prequel to Netflix's The Crown, it should be based on this book.
Saul David
The definitive version of how the Royal Family behaved in World War Two, by turns fast paced and furious. I couldn't put it down, except for occasional gasps of incredulity. Larman combines forensic investigative skills with some beautiful prose as he lays out in grim, unremitting detail how the Windsors wavered at critical moments in the war. What a story this is, and what a family
Anne Sebba, author of Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy
Alexander Larman's enjoyable The Windsors at War [is] a buoyant account of the period from Edward's abdication to the end of the Second World War.
Matthew Dennison, Telegraph
A lively, informative book, enriched by its author's fondness for gossip and sharp eye for absurdity... a pitch-black comedy
SPECTATOR WORLD
Larman has given us a great follow-up to The Crown in Crisis ... What shines through are the primary sources he has mined, the diaries and letters, he has worked his way through, yet wearing his scholarship lightly. We are transported back to the pre-war and wartime era, now made famous in Netflix's The Crown (which, to the author's credit, he never once refers to). That series is a dramatised and often fictionalised interpretation of the past, whereas Larman gives us solid factual evidence ... we are reminded that the new king loathed the debonair confidence of "the king across the water", fearing that if he made a hash of the kingship he never wanted, his scheming elder brother might return. This is one theme that runs throughout Larman's fine scholarship ... [a] compelling read
Peter Caddick-Adams, The Critic
Larman tells the story with enough brio to make it worth revisiting. Along the way he reveals a handful of details that have never been published before, including a fascinating first-hand account of the kind of conversations that took place among the Royals on the eve of war ... it is when Larman is at his most scathing that the story really comes alive ... Readers can make up their own minds about whether there are any parallels among today's public figures
Keith Lowe, Mail on Sunday