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5.0 out of 5 stars I hope that I haven't got any blue blood in my veins.
Karl Shaw is a wonderful compiler {he must be aided by a good research team}. I can recommend all of his books - I have two others besides this one - to one and all of adult age. Hilarious most of the time, perhaps sickening at others. I'm glad that Shaw latched on to the fact that Edward VIII of England was in fact a Nazi sympathiser {and went as far as being a spy}.
Published 10 months ago by Perplexity

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3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing but disjointed
With the descent of the modern media onto the current royal family, and the loss of the aura of untouchability that led to frank examinations of the lives Prince Charles and Andrew, the re-examination of royal institutions has led to the publication of a number of books similar to Shaw's Royal Babylon. The stories range from amusing to tragic to downright silly, but the...
Published on April 24 2003 by Marc Pieroni


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5.0 out of 5 stars I hope that I haven't got any blue blood in my veins., Sept. 25 2013
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This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
Karl Shaw is a wonderful compiler {he must be aided by a good research team}. I can recommend all of his books - I have two others besides this one - to one and all of adult age. Hilarious most of the time, perhaps sickening at others. I'm glad that Shaw latched on to the fact that Edward VIII of England was in fact a Nazi sympathiser {and went as far as being a spy}.
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2.0 out of 5 stars interesting cover, but could use some work!, Aug. 30 2003
By 
Someone Special (Middleton, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
I rated this book two stars because sometimes it got extremely boring. Shaw seems to only depict English royalty and it got boring reading stories about the Hanovers. I would recommend A Treasury of Royal Scandals instead it was written much better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and a fun read, not academic but interesting, June 20 2003
By 
DMH (East Coast) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. I never tried to take it seriously and I think that's why it was so fun. It was the kind of book you can read, put down, and go back to over time. It was something you had to committ to but it was fun and I learned quite a bit about those wonderful royals.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing but disjointed, April 24 2003
By 
Marc Pieroni (Hoboken, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
With the descent of the modern media onto the current royal family, and the loss of the aura of untouchability that led to frank examinations of the lives Prince Charles and Andrew, the re-examination of royal institutions has led to the publication of a number of books similar to Shaw's Royal Babylon. The stories range from amusing to tragic to downright silly, but the underlying theme is to portray how ridiculous the institution of monarchy is, and how ridiculous its various officeholders have been throughout a number of nation's histories. The stories, some popular and others not so well known are protrayed in vivid fashion with vigor by Shaw. Anyone looking for evidence of ample royal insanity, or those who revel in reading about the less-than-graceful moments of a number of historical figures will enjoy this book, and it does make for good light amusing reading. However, the book does have a number of problems. First, the author appears to fall victim to wild exaggeration that reduces the validity of the stories. In one story about Prussion emperor Frederick Williams fascination with collecting tall men for his army, he claims that "the tallest were almost nine feet tall", a very unlikely claim. His overexaggeration of the grotesqueness, insanity, and unpopularity of a number of monarchs not only disgusts the reader after a time, but makes his claims dubious. A number of his claims about the popularity of various monarchs flies in the face of most accepted perceptions of them. In addition, his chronicle jumps wildly from time to time and country to country. There is absolutely no continuity of the tales, and a bit of organization of thoughts would have helped the reader follow a particular line. Finally, while less known tales often make the book unique and original, some monarchy lines are clearly not as interesting as others and are given too much time in the book. Reigns with little impact like the Danish kings, a number of Russian Czars and Prussian emperors, are of less interest because of the reader's lack of familiarity with the figures yet are given equal time. In spite of these criticisms, the book does tap into a number of lesser known stories, and does underline the often ludicrous nature of many of these royal lines. If nothing more, the book is a public service annoucement against inbreeding, and does offer amusing and light reading. The reader just has to wade through a bit much to get to it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, April 16 2003
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This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
This book has a lot of little factual errors, that should have been caught by a good editor or fact checker. The writing is only fair-to-poor. Nothing new or interesting here, despite the "babylon" promised in the title.
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1.0 out of 5 stars NOT if you are a serious reader of royalty, March 19 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
I am always searching for new books on Russian and English royalty from 1875 to 1940. I enjoy reading about their inner families, habits, fights etc but I want it to be true and done in a serious manner.I want to know that the author is above board and knows his facts. I didn't enjoy Royal Babylon for two reasons. One, most of the characters he wrote of I am not interested in. He went clear back into the 1600's. Two, everything was done in a flippant way, which made me doubt his accuracy. Very little on English or Russian royalty of my time period of interest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Mad Houses of European Royalty, Feb. 25 2003
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
This is a popular history of the Royal families of Europe that is censored from most histories. It has a bibliography, but no index. From the Hanoverians of 1714 until 1871 the British royal family was never popular. They were attacked in the press for profligacy, indolence, stupidity, or squalor. Page 3 tells how "spin doctors" and the British press turned public opinion in favor of the royal family. Yet they compared favorable to the royal houses on the continent. Their escapades in the 1990s are a return to past traditions.
Spain's rapid economic decline coincided with the reigns of mad rulers. The Habsburgs, Braganzas, Savoys, Hohenzollerns, and Wittelsbachs were inbred, insane, or both. While academic history books deal with trade or battles, they censor the personalities behind those events. The rulers called "Great" were not given that name for any good works. Until the 19th century royals were very often illiterate (like their subjects). History is as much about the madness of men as about social events. The more powerful a ruler, the greater the danger of his folly. So read about the last three centuries of European dynasties. Let's hope that it can't happen here, with an Imperial Presidency and Corporate Aristocracy!
This book appears to be a spicy confection. but there is whole wheat beneath the pink icing. This book teaches without preaching; the facts speak for themselves.
Page 95 gives the origin of "God Save the King". The personality of Kaiser Bill is described on pages 144-8. The history of the Romanovs is on pages 151-188. Did you wonder what the world lost in that dynasty? The frequent absences from England by George I was the reason for the creation of a Prime Minister (p.193). During the reign of George V many of the royal rituals were invented. The symbol of a royal family as an example of marital fidelity, good manners, and religious devotion was also created (p.276). The royal family needed popularity to survive. Since the Battle of Hastings, England was ruled by six families, none of them English (p.281). Chapter 9 tells about the Windsors; the most important dynasty left in Europe.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing but a little confusing..., Sept. 18 2002
By 
Helena S (Ottawa, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
Royal Babylon is history lite at it's best - entertaining, witty, and frothy. It is basically one long gossip column and is very hard to put down; I read this straight through in just a few days. The author, Karl Shaw, takes us on a tour of royal antics and foibles spanning several centuries of Europe's monarchs and their families. We learn, for example, that Czar Paul had steel plates strapped to the knees of his soldiers in order to make them goosestep without bending their legs, and that the Duke of Cabaria, heir to the Spanish throne, liked to wear up to sixteen pairs of gloves at the same time.
In Royal Babylon, Shaw covers the Bourbons, Romanovs, Hohenzollerns, Hanoverians, Windsors, Wittelsbachs, Saxe-Coburgs and Hapsburgs. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more time devoted to the Austrian Hapsburgs. From all accounts, they were as zany as the rest of the bunch, but little time is spent describing them apart from a select few.
This would have been a 5 star read except that Shaw tends to jump around so much at times, that it can be a little difficult to follow. The first chapters are arranged thematically, the second part of the book is more geographical/by family. The same individuals are touched on in both parts of the book though, so I found myself going back several times, trying to figure out exactly how King A was related to Prince B and Queen C, etc. As a previous reviewer has already mentioned, I think an index would have been very helpful. Still, a great read overall!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific ammo for pro-republicans in Britain, July 5 2002
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This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
This author seems to specialize in books about the tasteless, gross, and unspeakable -- his own words -- but he seems to have done his research on the dubious mental health, psychopathic behavior, and unbridled sexual antics of most of the royal families of Europe over the past three centuries. It was noted by many contemporary observers, in fact, that in 1801 virtually every hereditary monarch was demonstrably insane. The Bourbons, Hanoverians, Habsburgs, Braganzas, Romanovs, Wittenbergs, Wittelsbachs, and Hohenzollerns all were monstrously inbred, the result of negative eugenics as a matter of state policy. Extreme ugliness, dwarfishness, and physical deformities which were rare in the general public were common enough in the palaces of Europe. And even a relatively healthy newcomer like Napoleon III Bonaparte took full advantage of the royal prerogative to frolic among his horde of mistresses unhindered. Moreover, the full public schedule of even a young royal generally meant that no prince or princess received much of an education and many were barely able to sign their names. Nor is 20th century Britain immune to these personal and dynastic shortcomings. In 1941, five members of the Bowes-Lyon family, including two of Queen Elizabeth's nieces, were confined to a mental hospital in Surrey on the same day; Buckingham Palace later lied to _Burke's Peerage_ about their existence, ignoring the fact that several of them were still alive in an NHS ward in the mid-1980s. This semi-tabloid volume would have been improved by footnotes and an index. Nevertheless, the genealogist who discovers a link to royalty among his ancestors might think twice before publicizing the fact.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Alarming indeed...., April 16 2002
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Todd Hagley "groucho75" (Decatur, GA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty (Paperback)
Alarming is an apt description, as after reading this, you wouldn't want to spend much time in the company of any of the monarchs listed in this book. Rapists, murderers, cheats, drug fiends, and liars have ruled over a duchy or a kingdom or two and that's just in England. Granted, the high proportion of mad German blood might explain a thing or two as well.
Shaw keeps things entertaining while the pace is brisk. This is light, amusing material that shouldn't be regarded as some highly important discourse on the relevancy of the monarchy in the modern world. Obviously, a monarchy serves a more populist role than a political one these days so you shouldn't see this as a smear tactic against any kingdom in particular.
I am curious to research many of the dynasties written about if only to put this book into perspective. You have to admit that Oxford's History of the British Empire probably wouldn't reveal half of what's here. An entertaining read, that could have featured a few more chapters, hence the four stars.
Well done, Shaw.
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Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty
Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty by Karl Shaw (Paperback - May 29 2001)
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