The book: George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter.
The summary: A historical work detailing the relationship between three cousin-monarchs as Europe changed around them forever, ultimately leading to the First World War.
The review: George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm is one of the finer “accessible” history books I’ve read. I employ quotes because I hate using that word. It’s usually a synonym for “dumbed down” but in this case I use the word in its more literal, less figurative sense. The book is accessible for people with a baseline familiarity of European history. You don’t need to be an expert. It’s informative but never dry. It’s approachable but never simplistic. The book was easily one of my favorite reads in the last few months.
Miranda Carter follows King George V, Czar Nicholas II, and Kaiser Wilhelm II throughout their lives. She provides the historical context for each ruler’s childhoods, teen years, and then adulthoods—all in exquisite detail and painting (sometimes rather tragicomic) psychological profiles of each royal cousin. In that sense, it serves as part biography, part history of the Victorian/Edwardian era, part account of the outbreak of World War I.
I actually purchased this book nearly four years ago and just now got a chance to read it, after rekindling my interest in the Great War (which started in college).
This book is definitely worth picking up. I don’t have too much bad to say about it other than that the book has endnotes and I much prefer footnotes.