On December 10, 1936, King Edward VIII brought a great international drama to a close when he abdicated, renouncing the throne of the United Kingdom for himself and his heirs. The reason he gave when addressing his subjects was that he could not fulfill his duties without the woman he loved--the notorious American divorcee Wallis Simpson--by his side. His actions scandalized the establishment, who were desperate to avoid an international embarrassment at a time when war seemed imminent. That the King was rumored to have Nazi sympathies only strengthened their determination that he should be forced off the throne, by any means necessary. Alexander Larman's The Crown in Crisis will treat readers to a new view of this legendary story.
One of Mr. Larman’s most interesting revelations concerns an attempt on Edward’s life. The would-be killer, working under the assumed name of George McMahon ... [a] sense of astonishment over such an improbable turn of events lends a familiar story excitement, and Mr. Larman brings his cast of characters vividly to life in a fast-paced, lively staging of the drama. It’s as much fun to read as a good political thriller.
It says something about how close the abdication of 1936 has come to slipping from living memory that Alexander Larman feels obliged to plant broad reminders early on ... [Larman] doesn’t go in for startling revisions, but instead makes use of the new sources and interpretive lenses that have become available in the intervening four decades. In particular Larman insists on bringing the Germans back into the narrative, reminding us just how badly Hitler wanted to keep Edward on the throne ... The centrepiece of Larman’s book, though, is the 1936 assassination attempt on Edward ... When it comes to Wallis Simpson, Larman follows recent revisionary accounts in suggesting that she was more sinned against than sinning ... Larman shows a delicate touch too in not banging home the obvious contemporary resonances. Instead he lets us find our own fun ...
Thanks to Alexander Larman’s well researched new book...the veil is lifted on several aspects of the abdication crisis—as well as the relationship between Edward and Wallis—previously hidden in the pages of numerous diaries and letters of the dramatis personae. Larman, a journalist and historian of three previous books, mined this rich trove of archival material to capture a comprehensive and deeply personal account of this pivotal turning point of the monarchy and the nation ... Larman introduces a variety of opinions about Edward, Wallis, and the survivability of the monarchy during such an unprecedented event. The book is far broader in scope than just an expose on Edward and Wallis, however. Larman explains the “crisis” part in thorough detail as sides begin to form in both the political and public forum over the scandal ... There is much to learn in this book, to be sure. Larman introduces new information on several key events ... But it is the personal ruminations upon a visibly shaken and damaged monarchy that most strike the mark ... With The Crown in Crisis, we have the most up to date telling of this oft-told tale—and it delivers the crown jewels.