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REVIEW: Royal Lives: Portraits of Past Royals by Those In The Know.


This is one of those books which shows real promise but, sadly, it is not one of the most accessible books on the market. The concept is sound but maybe the implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

The book sets out to provide a series of portraits of past Royals and those closely related or involved with them, collated from entries in the Dictionary of National Biography by historian Frank Prochaska. The 'cast list' of this 640-page book is impressive, covering numerous big names from King George III to Queen Victoria and a few other related royals. No living person is chronicled in this book.

However I feel that just taking entries from a fairly learned dictionary and repackaging them was a mistake and you have to be particularly dedicated to fight your way through the turgid, closely-printed text to get on with this text. At the same time you are fighting the awful paperback-type binding which keeps wanting to close the book shut as soon as you relax your grip (breaking the spine is a drastic measure which one tries to avoid!). I don't feel that the idea of the book is met by the style of text which accompanies it and this is a great shame.

Sadly, in its current form, a great number of potential readers who would be interested in such information are being unwittingly alienated through the book's physical appearance and layout. Historians complain that it is hard enough to get people to read factual history books nowadays - without some form of psuedo-glamorisation and over-simplification being involved - so the publishers here have perhaps lost a golden opportunity to have a good-selling book by virtue of not thinking a bit about the layout, the binding and the whole general appearance.

This is a shame.

CONCLUSION: Great content, great idea but not-so-great delivery. Worth taking a look but you may need a bit of perseverance.

Title: Royal Lives: Portraits of Past Royals by Those In The Know Author: Frank Prochaska Published by: Oxford University Press ISBN: 0-19-860530-7 Price: GBP12.99 Reviewer: Darren Ingram
COPYRIGHT 2003 Normans Media Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Ingram, Darren
Publication:M2 Best Books
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 24, 2003
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