Saturday, April 11, 2015

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton

Andrew Morton writes unauthorized biographies on the royalty of England and the royalty of Hollywood. Maybe I should've known that this book would not be the history book I was looking for. It had a hook: "The biggest cover up in history." This hook intrigued me enough to bite down, yet ultimately left me back in the water where I started. But wounded.

Title: 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History
Author: Andrew Morton
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: History; Biography
My Rating: 3/5

Summary
Andrew Morton tells the story of the feckless Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor, his American wife, Wallis Simpson, the bizarre wartime Nazi plot to make him a puppet king after the invasion of Britain, and the attempted cover-up by Churchill, General Eisenhower, and King George VI of the duke's relations with Hitler. From the alleged affair between Simpson and the German foreign minister to the discovery of top secret correspondence about the man dubbed "the traitor king" and the Nazi high command, this is a saga of intrigue, betrayal, and deception suffused with a heady aroma of sex and suspicion.

Drawing on FBI documents, exclusive pictures, and material from the German, Russian, and British royal archives, as well as the personal correspondence of Churchill, Eisenhower, and the Windsors themselves, ***17 Carnations is a dazzling historical drama, full of adventure, intrigue, and startling revelations, written by a master of the genre.

***none of this I found to be true

Review
The book gets its title from the alleged affair Wallis Simpson had with the German Ambassador to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop (a man who was to become the first person executed after his conviction at the Nuremberg Trials). Supposedly, von Ribbentrop sent Wallis multiple bouquets of 17 carnations in memory of the 17 times they....well you know. First of all, carnations are the spam of meat. You literally prefer any other kind. And who counts rendezvous? Wallis should've known this relationship would have thrown her and the Duke of Windsor into further dealings with the Nazis.

And it did. 

Von Ribbentrop ties = Hitler ties. Hitler had been scheming to overtake London and reinstate Edward to the throne. After all, Edward was a "Nazi sympathizer." Edward's estrangement from his family in London led him to say and do some things that were a bit brash. For most of his life, the House of Windsor trailed behind him, cleaning up in his aftermath. This includes the "biggest cover-up in history": a sneaky attempt by important British and American officials to destroy documents that would keep Edward's Nazi ties a secret, and keep the House of Windsor's name squeaky-clean.

The book takes you from Wallis and Edward's first meeting, their subsequent exile from England and their families, to their eventual introduction to Hitler. We see the royal couple end up in every place besides Britain, and shake up almost everyone they come across.

I think the treatment of Wallis is particularly interesting. She is more or less, slut-shamed. The girl from Baltimore was believed to have put a spell on Edward, disrupting the flow of the British Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother referred to her solely as "that woman." Although Wallis was verbally battered by a country, she didn't necessarily help erase her tarnished image. She sent soldiers on a mission to retrieve her forgotten bathing suit at a French villa, and sent more to grab her coveted bedsheets from her apartment in Paris. This was during the war. You know, when there were more important things going on. Like the war.

The ostentatious couple's priorities were to live a lush life. They ignored the war as it was happening. They ignored their duties as Duke and Duchess. They were exiled by their country. They were alone. One thing I agree with Morton is that Edward was a nuisance, not a traitor. He belonged nowhere.

I feel like I can't honestly give any history book lower than a three star rating. No matter how dense (and this book often was at times.) It's just, there wasn't much of a story here that we didn't already know. Let alone, the "biggest cover-up in history." And I hate false advertising.

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