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The Windsors at War

The Nazi Threat to the Crown

Alexander Larman



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Weidenfeld & Nicolson
14 March 2023
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 Fuhrer 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?

Imprint:   Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   560g
ISBN:   9781474623964
ISBN 10:   1474623964
Pages:   432
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Alexander Larman is the author of several books, most recently The Crown In Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication. He is books editor of the Spectator's world edition and is a contributing editor to The Critic magazine. He has a monthly book review column in the Observer and writes regularly about literature and the arts for publications including Prospect, The Chap and the Daily Telegraph.

Reviews for The Windsors at War: The Nazi Threat to the Crown

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 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 * 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 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 * 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 detailed and fascinating account -- Tessa Dunlop * The Spectator * A lively, informative book, enriched by its author's fondness for gossip and sharp eye for absurdity... a pitch-black comedy * SPECTATOR WORLD * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 *

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