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Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Sally Bedell Smith

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3913827,416 (3.79)39
Member:lycomayflower
Title:Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
Authors:Sally Bedell Smith
Info:Random House (2012), Hardcover, 688 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****1/2
Tags:20th century, 21st century, american, britain, history, biography

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Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith (2011)

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book as an excellent overview of Queen Elizabeth II’s public life and reign over England and the British Commonwealth. The queens life spans many decades that have seen great change in the world and her ability to handle the changes that she was forced to address. Born into a life where tradition and duty determined her daily life she has fared well forming her own disciplined routines. Her public persona has much to admire: her energy, dedication to duty, and vitality.

The book stresses her role in maintaining the desire of the people for the continuation of British Monarchy and the Commonwealth both of which are a amazing legacy considering the many and fast paced changes that occurred during the twentieth centaury. We get an overview of the monarchs role in government but nothing is shared about her private political views or true family life. And if any are ever revealed it will not be during her reign.

The author has given us a well written and researched volume. It is a easy to read book that has a positive bias toward EIIR (Queen Elizabeth II.) The writing engages the reader and the photos only enhance the experience of the visible life of the queen. If the book had a more even handed approach to the queens life it would have definitely rated five stars. My overall assessment is that this book is well worth the read and very interesting. ( )
  hermit | Jan 16, 2015 |
**********THIS IS A GOODREADS.COM CONTEST WIN!!!!!***********

This is a very interesting and informative read about Queen Elizabeth. I would not be surprised if this book is bought by everyone in Great Britain. Very detailed and loads of information. ( )
  kybunnies | Oct 19, 2014 |
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch is a very lovingly offered biography from an obviously biased author. Elizabeth the II has been reigning throughout a period of enormous change to the Commonwealth, to Britain and to the world, yet, for the most part this book dwells on the insignificant and trivial details of her life. That these details are well researched is important to note, but there was always a feeling that she was striving for the Queen’s approval in her final product. I suspect a fair and honest account of this woman’s life will only be available after the Queen has passed on.

The slant was the most obvious in her writings about the breakdown of the marriages of Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie and even her sister Margaret and Anthony, Lord Snowdon. I suspect the truth of the matter is that all parties are to blame, and that marrying into the Royal Family is not an easy task for anyone.

Told in a light, breezy style, this is not a book to read for any revelations about the Queen or her family, but more of a recap, a gathering of all the press releases and information we already know about this extraordinary woman. A sympathetic picture emerges and as a Queen she has my admiration but I never felt that I was learning about the real woman behind the façade. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jun 17, 2014 |
Charming, accessible, and enjoyable.

My primary problem (and maybe because I'm an American) is that this biography has virtually NO criticism whatsoever of Queen Elizabeth II. I understand she is highly revered and in all actuality, probably an admirable role model. But other than a brief aside about her 'mothering' (which that being virtually her only fault, I found a bit sexist), the woman appears to be a saint.

Good read. Highly encouraged for Anglophiles. :) ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
As an American who knows "just enough" about the royal family, I was rather interested in reading this book after hearing the author interviewed on radio. Regardless of what your position might be on monarchies in general, this makes for fascinating reading simply because of the interesting and unusual life that Elizabeth has led. Her personal life which in itself is interesting is then laid on top of so many historical events from the last decades.

I found the book to be extremely well researched. It seemed every little bit of trivia that I had read about the monarch was included. I specifically remember a news article about an intruder into her bedroom; that story is there along with the ones that are better known such as Diana's death, etc.

Elizabeth is indeed a unique and extremely strong woman. Her life has been directed by others yet she managed to carve out her own style and develop as much of a personality and independent life as possible. Yes, she made mistakes; yes, she might see detached; yes, she isn't like us "normal folk." However, she certainly was able to maintain not only her health (which is difficult if one is extremely unhappy), but her own sense of who she is. I wound up with admiration for her as a woman in a very unique circumstance.

The book is very readable and the pictures lend a great deal. I do feel it has a pro-monarchy point of view and perhaps could have been a bit more evenly balanced at times, thus the four stars. However, it was well worth the read and very interesting. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 22, 2013 |
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Book description
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.

Compulsively readable and scrupulously researched, Elizabeth the Queen is a close-up view of a woman we’ve known only from a distance, illuminating the lively personality, sense of humor, and canny intelligence with which she meets the most demanding work and family obligations. It is also a fascinating window into life at the center of the last great monarchy.
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Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.… (more)

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