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  #561  
Old 10-01-2010, 06:10 PM
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Also, if you are like me you are apt to read a lot of books on a particular author. I realize that everyone is not like me. Thus, I have read several books on the Windsors....you can certainly tell who is pro David/Wallis and vice versa.
This is true, however, it's fascinating, isn't it? I loved reading Aline, Countess romanoes account of her time with Wallis, very flattering, then there are the ones that are Pro Queen Mum and I think, yes, that was a difficult time and Wallis and David were really very selfish, weren't they? So it's rather nice to have a smorgasboard of bio.s from which to chose, IMO.
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  #562  
Old 10-07-2010, 09:35 AM
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The more a person reads by various good authors (meaning authors who list sources and attempt to be honest and impartial), the more a person is apt to get the complete picture of someone.
I agree, but I also think that it's impossible for an author to be completely unbiased. When a book is level-headed and well-researched, that's okay. But what's I can't stand is when an author makes an ad hominem attack against a historical figure who can't fight back -- being "bitchy" is how I would best describe it.

For instance, I was flicking through A. N. Wilson's After The Victorians (have a look here) the other day, and I noticed how many people the author dismisses with one broad, over-critical brushstroke.

This is what he says about George VI:
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He was an edgy, bad-tempered and in many ways weak man, though passionately dutiful, a kind husband and father, and a devout Christian.
A nice little put-down there.

He has a bit more to say on Edward VIII, and since he's the subject of this thread...
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Being Prince of Wales isn't a job, but David did his duty as heir to the throne with enough ablomb to make him a matinee idol on the world stage... He liked smoking. He wore outrageous clothes, jazzy socks, turn-ups on Oxford bags, bright tweeds, all the garments that would have made Jeeves wince had Bertie Wooster insisted on wearing them.
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Being King gave Edward less time than he would have wanted for his amusing friends, and much has been made of his bored expression during the grotesque summer ceremony when 600 debutantes were "presented" at court, or his failure, during a summer holiday in Scotland, to turn up and open a hospital. But the truth is, he did far more than Queen Victoria had ever dreamed of doing in the way of public duties, and he performed some of them with imagination and aplomb. His occasional lapses are not to be compared with the temper-tantrums and awkward shyness of his brother Bertie throughout his public life both as Duke of York and George VI... Edward would have made a perfectly satisfactory king had be been allowed to stay in place, but history, extraordinarily babyish in this respect, has to depict him as a selfish sybarite, a Nazi sympathiser, a man who would have "brought down" the monarchy, and his brother -- a decent enough person in his way for someone all but talentless -- as a sort of saint.
Ouch.

The book is enjoyable enough in itself, but A. N. Wilson seems to delight in taking tiny details of his subject's lives and distorting them beyond significance. In my mind the above quote outlines a point of view that is put across quite unsubtly and one that distorts the truth. To the best of my knowledge George VI never chucked a tantrum in public, yet in order to elevate Edward VIII the author has to denigrate his brother.

Similarly, he dismisses Edward VIII's other rather impetuous acts and paints his Nazi sympathies as some sort of act of jealousy.

In my mind this isn't the sort of historical writing that lets the reader decide things for themselves. It would be very easy to present the above paragraph in a way that doesn't so obviously editorialise.

I highly recommend A. N. Wilson's book for its scope, but after reading it I come away with the feeling that the author is a sort of historical film critic -- evaluating historical figures and always feeling slightly disappointed with them.
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  #563  
Old 10-07-2010, 10:16 AM
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I think it is possible to have an unbiased biography. Although I think that by the time an author has finished their project, they have formed an opinion.

Its why I hate watching MSNBC and Fox News, just give me the facts and let me form MY opinion.

I think the truth is probably a little in between. Edward was a decent Prince of Wales and an awful King. He let his personal needs and desires get in the way on what was best for the country, though again it looks like Wallis did England a favor.

I also understand that for a time a lot of people (upper class included) supported the Nazi's. Though its worth noting that some of them came around when the full extent of the Nazi horrors became well known. I don't believe this was the case with Edward though. Which was another failing of his IMO, he could never recognize when he was wrong.
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  #564  
Old 10-07-2010, 12:00 PM
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What annoys me about sources like that are the weasel words. Stop obfuscating and let me make up my own mind!

Similarly, I wouldn't go so far as to call George VI a saint. He was just a quiet guy who stepped up and did his duty. It's admirable that he didn't crack under the strain and conversely deplorable that his brother ducked out of his responsibility. The story of the abdication is more complex than simply casting Edward as either the dreadfully wronged party or the sinner.

Both were complex, sometimes difficult people, and both were affected deeply by their childhood IMO.
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  #565  
Old 10-07-2010, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Zonk View Post

Its why I hate watching MSNBC and Fox News, just give me the facts and let me form MY opinion.
I have friends who only watch the BBC as they say they are unbiased completely.
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  #566  
Old 10-07-2010, 02:02 PM
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Thanks Russo...one of my friends turned me onto BBC as well.
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  #567  
Old 10-07-2010, 02:13 PM
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All news media is biased -- just some more so than others.

The BBC is technically politically independent. That doesn't mean they haven't been biased, but IMHO they're consistently higher quality than a lot of the dreck out there.
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  #568  
Old 10-07-2010, 02:23 PM
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Well, they appear to be unbiased when reporting American events which is (sorry to say) what matters to me. I am sure those who follow British events can say something else.

But back on topic....I just picked up the book Letters to Wallis and Edward (1931-1937). A great find...3 bucks! It was edited by Micheal Bloch.
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  #569  
Old 10-21-2010, 11:24 PM
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I think is so weird that there isn't more biographies on these two. Even though post-abdication, they were basically just jet-setters (but even as jet-setters they were always on the trends where jewelry and clothing were concerned...which isn't important but probably made a lot of designers careers so for they could be written about), the abdication itself was quite historical for its time period. And an important event in royal history.

I hope when that Madonna film comes out that it will invigorate interest in this couple.
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  #570  
Old 10-22-2010, 12:55 AM
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That's a good book; I read it 20 years ago or so. It's quite revealing about both Wallis and Edward. Does it include Wallis's letters to her Aunt Bessie? I remember reading some of them as well, but I can't remember whether they're in the same volume.


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But back on topic....I just picked up the book Letters to Wallis and Edward (1931-1937). A great find...3 bucks! It was edited by Micheal Bloch.
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  #571  
Old 10-22-2010, 02:57 AM
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This book looks interesting: Letters from a Prince: Edward, Prince of Wales, to Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward. Anyone read it?

This was the source of the quote where Edward compared indigenous Australians to monkeys. If I ever had a high opinion of him, nothing remained after I read that.
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  #572  
Old 10-22-2010, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by isayoldboy View Post
This book looks interesting: etters from a Prince: Edward, Prince of Wales, to Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward. Anyone read it?

This was the source of the quote where Edward compared indigenous Australians to monkeys. If I ever had a high opinion of him, nothing remained after I read that.
To be fair to the man on that point in the early part of the 20th Century he wasn't alone.

I refuse to condemn someone for expressing opinions that were widely held at the time that they held them.
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  #573  
Old 10-22-2010, 03:43 AM
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To be fair to the man on that point in the early part of the 20th Century he wasn't alone.
I suppose I was being a little harsh. I certainly still admire FDR's war leadership while I am aware of the fact that he did some pretty dodgy things when he interned thousands of American Japanese. Many people in those days held absolutely deplorable views on race, women, what have you.

And Edward certainly wasn't alone in his racism. I was reading a letter that Clementine Churchill wrote to Winston the other day, where she casually used the word "******" to describe a minstrel show. And at the time, indeed into the late 1960s, Aboriginal children were still being forcibly removed from their families and "raised" in state-run schools.

But Edward expressed contempt here and I think that's a completely different thing altogether. His early support of Hitler can be explained easier, I think. The racism, even if it can be explained by the time in which he lived, still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
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  #574  
Old 11-01-2010, 04:55 AM
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Portrait of a very immature king: Yacht steward's scathing assessment of Edward VIII during abdication crisis | Mail Online

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A scathing assessment of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson has been unearthed in a letter from a crew member on their yacht during the abdication crisis.
The King is dismissed as a student who has not grown up while his lover is described as having a big mouth and a ‘metallic American voice’.
The author of the 16-page letter, thought to be a steward called Jim Richardson, wrote to his mother after a summer cruise in the Mediterranean in 1936 on board the Nahlin. He warned her that the letter should be destroyed after she read it.
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  #575  
Old 11-01-2010, 09:09 AM
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Well if it is "for real" it is a wonderful example of the behaviour of the upper classes, aristocracy and royalty who treated their staff as if they were, for all intents and purposes, blind, deaf and dumb!

When you read things like this it makes you wonder how England avoided a very nasty 'Revolution". People in positions of power by virtue of birth living a life of unrestrained hedonism, entailing "Breakfasts" held and attended by many at 2 or 3 pm which, if you don't wake up until 11am or later, makes sense. Then there is tea, at 6pm and dinners and 9pm and after that . . . . . . they partyed. Actually, William and Harry seem like choirboys by comparison.

I don't know if the veracity of the provenence of this letter will hold up, after all, the writer or his mum could have made a bundle any time after WWII.
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  #576  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:05 AM
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When you read things like this it makes you wonder how England avoided a very nasty 'Revolution". People in positions of power by virtue of birth living a life of unrestrained hedonism, entailing "Breakfasts" held and attended by many at 2 or 3 pm which, if you don't wake up until 11am or later, makes sense. Then there is tea, at 6pm and dinners and 9pm and after that . . . . . . they partyed. Actually, William and Harry seem like choirboys by comparison.
To be fair, there were aristocrats like that in France and Russia, and they had the most famous, violent revolutions.
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  #577  
Old 11-01-2010, 02:45 PM
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Never liked these two anyway. But Wallis had amazing jewels.
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  #578  
Old 11-01-2010, 07:03 PM
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But the English did have a very nasty revolution and executed their King as well - in 1649. The also had another go in 1688/89 when they removed their King and parliament took control.

The powers that be though learnt a lesson then and regularly included increasing rights for the people to join them in government - 1832, 1867, 1884, 1910, 1918, 1928, 1968, 1999 - seeing more power to the people and less to the nobles etc.
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  #579  
Old 11-01-2010, 10:13 PM
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Ah, I don't think that Royalty and the Aristocracy graced the trumbles and guillotine in great numbers in either instance. Nor did the "peasants" take up knitting big-time while they watched
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  #580  
Old 11-02-2010, 12:15 AM
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Ah, I don't think that Royalty and the Aristocracy graced the trumbles and guillotine in great numbers in either instance. Nor did the "peasants" take up knitting big-time while they watched

That is because the English aristocracy either fled, were killed in the Civil War or were on the side of Cromwell (yes he had aristocratic supporters as well). They had 7 years of civil war to get organised.
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