The Best Books On Modern Monarchy

By Andrew Scott Cooper

The Books I Picked & Why

Juan Carlos: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy

By Richard Preston

Juan Carlos: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy

Why this book?

Despite the scandals that led to his abdication, King Juan Carlos will go down in history as the courageous architect of Spain’s tightrope transition to democracy. But how exactly did he pull it off? Historian Paul Preston answers that question in his judicious, meticulously researched biography. The author recounts the life story of Juan Carlos, the boy prince whose parents essentially “sold him into slavery” to Francisco Franco in the hope that he would one day restore the House of Bourbon and sow the seeds of Spanish liberal democracy. Against all odds, Juan Carlos succeeded––and so too did the people of Spain.


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Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace

By Avi Shlaim

Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace

Why this book?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of King Hussein’s epic life is that he died in his own bed of natural causes and at a relatively advanced age––Hussein of Jordan always assumed he would die from an assassin’s bullet. Incredibly, his long reign had a happy ending: Hussein surmounted enough tragedies and challenges to fill the Book of Job––he witnessed his grandfather’s murder, his father went insane, his beloved cousin was shot, the wife he adored went down in a helicopter crash––yet steered his country and the people of Jordan to safe harbor through five decades of war, revolt and revolution. This book meets the majesty of the man and his life and times.


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The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1969-1977

By Asadollah Alam

The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran's Royal Court, 1969-1977

Why this book?

Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to wear a crown, ride in a gold carriage and wave from a balcony? To make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people? The English language translation of The Shah and I has never been out of print and for good reason. More than thirty years ago the revelation that Asadollah Alam, the Shah of Iran’s closest adviser and confidante, kept secret diaries describing life at the Pahlavi Court, not to mention the most intimate details of his master’s life, shocked Iranians. Scandalous, humorous and entertaining, the Alam diaries also happen to comprise one of the most important diplomatic documents of the second half of the twentieth century. In these pages the previously untouchable, always suspicious King of Kings is revealed to be flesh and blood like the rest of us––quick to temper, bored with routine and always happy to kick back and have a gossip about the events of the day. Historians can’t turn away from the diaries and neither will you.


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The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II

By Ben Pimlott

The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II

Why this book?

Sometimes it takes an outsider––in the case of the late political biographer Ben Pimlott, a man of the Labour left––to capture the essence of a seemingly elusive prey. Twenty-five years ago, British literary critics were confounded when Pimlott decided to write a serious biography of Queen Elizabeth II, that most enigmatic of sovereigns. But none could protest the outcome: still today his book is considered the finest portrait of the Queen yet written. By assessing Elizabeth through the lens of her unique constitutional role, Pimlott reflected the quiet determination of the shy and modest woman who never had a say in her own destiny, yet who unflinchingly dedicated herself to a life of public service and duty.


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Monarchy in Modern Greece

By Costas M. Stamatopoulos

Monarchy in Modern Greece

Why this book?

How do monarchies begin and why do they fail? Remarkably few serious studies of Greece’s deposed royal family have appeared in print. Monarchy in Modern Greece, now available in this excellent English translation, offers readers a highly informative and thoughtful account of Greece’s experiment with “crowned democracy.” Written in essay form, scholars and general readers alike will find much to illuminate and entertain as Costas Stamatopoulos judiciously reviews the reigns of the seven monarchs whose reigns were buffeted by domestic and international crises. The lengthy footnote section is a veritable gold mine for anyone wanting to explore further and dig deeper.


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