Archive for March, 2022

The Last King of America

Monday, March 21st, 2022

By Andrew Roberts

The Short Take:

This detailed biography of King George III is an intense read but largely fascinating, especially reading about America’s War of Independence from the British perspective.

Why?

I’ve read enough USA history to know that our revolution wasn’t about taxation without representation and that it wasn’t even supported by the majority of colonials, but this book was still an eye-opener. With about 80 pages of notes it is also very well researched. Part of the bounty Andrews drew from was the more than 200,000 pages of Hanoverian papers, only 15% of which had been published before. Excerpts from letters to and from the king are liberally used to explain his thoughts on everything from the contentious Stamp Act to opposing better conditions for Catholics in Great Britain.

The portrait that emerges of George III is diametrically opposed to what most Americans–and a lot of Brits–believe. He considered himself a patriot king and respected the British Constitution and Parliament above all else. He was intellectually curious, devoted to his family (though the same could not be said for his heir), and a supporter of the arts and sciences. That’s not to say he was a paragon, but he is a far cry from how Thomas Jefferson painted him in the Declaration of Independence. He fared no better among his various aristocratic Whig biographers, who considered him an impediment to their control on power.

However, it was easy for this American to get bogged down by all the names of George’s supporters and detractors, their various titles, and positions. They were legion. While a few stood out (the two Pitts, Fox, Lord Nelson) many of them are completely unfamiliar unless you are deeply into British politics of that era.

Still, I’m glad I made the effort and read all 679 pages of text. But, whew!

A Little Plot:

George III was a young teen when his beloved father passed away, making him next in line for the English crown, after his grandfather, George II. However, it was the lessons hie father taught him that guided him throughout his life, except when madness descended.

For more about Andrew Roberts, this book, and his other biographies click here.

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