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The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III Hardcover – November 9, 2021
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The last king of America, George III, has been ridiculed as a complete disaster who frittered away the colonies and went mad in his old age. The truth is much more nuanced and fascinating--and will completely change the way readers and historians view his reign and legacy.
Most Americans dismiss George III as a buffoon--a heartless and terrible monarch with few, if any, redeeming qualities. The best-known modern interpretation of him is Jonathan Groff's preening, spitting, and pompous take in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway masterpiece. But this deeply unflattering characterization is rooted in the prejudiced and brilliantly persuasive opinions of eighteenth-century revolutionaries like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, who needed to make the king appear evil in order to achieve their own political aims. After combing through hundreds of thousands of pages of never-before-published correspondence, award-winning historian Andrew Roberts has uncovered the truth: George III was in fact a wise, humane, and even enlightened monarch who was beset by talented enemies, debilitating mental illness, incompetent ministers, and disastrous luck.
In The Last King of America, Roberts paints a deft and nuanced portrait of the much-maligned monarch and outlines his accomplishments, which have been almost universally forgotten. Two hundred and forty-five years after the end of George III's American rule, it is time for Americans to look back on their last king with greater understanding: to see him as he was and to come to terms with the last time they were ruled by a monarch.
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“The deft portraits and detailed episodes Mr. Roberts provides in The Last King of America—drawing on a vast trove of documents newly digitized by the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle—bring into clear view the man at the center of it all, whose personality, principles and proper reputation have been too long obscured.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“A fair-minded portrait . . . [written] with insight and aplomb.”
—The Washington Post
“In Andrew Roberts, George has found his Boswell, but one with the wit and erudition of a Johnson. Britain’s most misunderstood monarch he may have been, but this biographer has entered into this conscientious king’s troubled mind with more than customary empathy. His superb concluding chapter is a paean to 'the nobility of George III.'”
—The American Spectator
“A compendious product of intricate investigation. Roberts has read everything. . . . The letters and diaries of delicious characters such as Fanny Burney and Lady Mary Coke are combed for color and detail, and troop movements and economic fluctuations are carefully reconstructed. It is a magnificent achievement.”
“Vividly detailed . . . A capacious, prodigiously researched biography from a top-shelf historian.”
“Meticulously researched . . . An eye-opening portrait of the man and his times.”
“A practiced hand at thoroughly detailed histories and biographies, Roberts keeps the lengthy text vivid and engaging . . . A deep, expansive study not only of George III but also of the political and social complexities of England and the United States during his reign.”
“[A] persuasive interpretation, supported by a wide range of sources and argued with keen insight into political realities . . . Important, serious and timely.”
—Times Literary Supplement (UK)
“A handsome and thorough biography . . . Above all, Roberts has written a superlative political history of the period between 1760 and 1809.”
—The New Criterion
“Roberts makes a strong revisionist case for the generally maligned George III in this engrossing, brilliant biography.”
“Roberts’s account is masterly, combining a compelling narrative—one has to keep turning the pages even though one knows the outcome—with analysis that is both cogent and incisive. He appears to have read everything that is in the mainstream and much that isn’t, including a wide range of archival sources. . . . [A] tremendous book.”
“Elegant and splendidly researched.”
—The Sunday Times (UK)
“Magisterial . . . George III is notorious for two reasons: losing America and going mad. Roberts provides a fresh and spirited account of both occurrences. . . . The result is a lengthy book that remains engaging throughout.”
—The Times (UK)
“As [Roberts's] outstanding books on Halifax, Salisbury and Churchill also demonstrate, he is a master of the biography. . . . Roberts systematically, cogently and helpfully reinterprets his subject’s role and reputation.”
“Elegant and comprehensive . . . Roberts is our most prodigious biographer.”
—The Daily Mail
“Richly evidenced and scrupulously argued. . . . [The Last King of America] consolidates Roberts’s position as one of the greatest biographers in the English language today.”
“Teems with detail, ideas and elegance. Roberts is a great writer—and this is one of his greatest achievements.”
—Aspects of History
“Superb . . . A book so diligently researched cannot fail to be rich in curious detail and amusing turns of phrase. There are plums on almost every page.”
“A powerful reappraisal.”
—The Irish Post
About the Author
- Publisher : Viking (November 9, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 784 pages
- ISBN-10 : 198487926X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1984879264
- Item Weight : 2.47 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.26 x 2.38 x 9.29 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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This book will, in a useful way, make Americans like me take another look at the Revolutionary Era. Our knowledge of history will deepen. Not many books can do that.
Part of the success of this work derives from Dr Roberts' careful analysis of the voluminous Georgian Papers that were previously uncatalogued and mostly unpublished. They revealed that there was much more to learn about George III.
Rather than a demonic despot, George is shown to have been intelligent, perceptive, dutiful, patriotic, well educated and, perhaps most surprising of all, monogamous. He had a keen interest in science and the arts and was a significant patron of both. George actively participated in the intricate political manoeuvring of his day and the dizzying changes in ministers and titles, offers of peerages, honours, posts, sinecures and pensions show that eighteenth century English politics was more complicated and dynamic than in the present era.
This meticulously researched volume is written in perfectly polished prose and will be an informative delight to anyone interested in a critical period in English history. i recommend it with unbridled enthusiasm.