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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

George III, Britain's longest-reigning king, has gone down in history as 'the cruellest tyrant of this age' (Thomas Paine, 18th century), 'a sovereign who inflicted more profound and enduring injuries upon this country than any other modern English king' (WEH Lecky, 19th century), 'one of England's most disastrous kings' (JH Plumb, 20th century) and as the pompous, camp and sinister monarch of the musical Hamilton (21st century).

Andrew Roberts' magnificent new biography takes entirely the opposite view. It convincingly portrays George as intelligent, benevolent, scrupulously devoted to the constitution of his country and (as head of government as well as head of state) navigating the turbulence of 18th-century politics with a strong sense of honour and duty. He was a devoted husband and family man, a great patron of the arts and sciences, keen ('Farmer George') to advance Britain's agricultural capacity and determined that her horizons should be global.

The book gives a detailed, revisionist account of the American War of Independence, amongst other things persuasively taking apart a significant proportion of the Declaration of Independence. In a later war, it shows how George's support for William Pitt was crucial to the battle against Napoleon. And it makes a credible, modern diagnosis of George's terrible malady that robbed him of his mind for the last 10 years of his life - his other main claim to the popular imagination.

Roberts argues that, far from being a tyrant or incompetent, George III was one of our most admirable monarchs. George III shows one of Britain's premier historians at his sparkling best.

©2021 Andrew Roberts (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about George III

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One of the Greatest Historian’s Best Books

This book is what we’ve been waiting for and an absolute masterpiece by Andrew Roberts. Possibly his best work if not coming alongside his Churchill biography. This is history at its best. Roberts has able to paint a picture of George III in his times so that your really feel you ‘know’ him. His arguments are solid as he looks to unpick the propaganda of Whig or American historians which has tainted the view of George to be seen as possibly one of England’s worst monarchs. But was he on par with King John or Richard II? No, he couldn’t be further away from them. George was a pious, patriot king of a limited monarchy and fulfilled the role excellently. It speaks volumes of a man that people who knew him the most liked him the best. Was he a tyrant? It’s hard to see how, as Roberts argues if he was then he would have come down like an iron fist on the cartoons and press that freely were able to kick him and he would have vetoed acts of parliament he did not agree with. He in fact left the press to it and never intervened on an act. He was against slavery as his personal letters show. He did not own one or profit from the trade. He didn’t speak up in support of the abolitionists when it can to the debate, but again he was a limited monarch who did not intervene so history should not judge him harshly here. This was in the backdrop of the French Revolution and following the Gordon Riots where people justifiably feared any rock to the status quo could have ended in disaster. He was an advocate of religious freedom, free thought and liberty and a patron of academia and the arts. It is a shame he didn’t support Catholic Emancipation, however he was a down to earth and approachable monarch. He loved his people and they loved him. The book is well written, the building of 18th century society by Roberts is utterly mind blowing and his conclusion is fantastic. I loved it and couldn’t put it down.

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does not bring the man or times to life

Rather too long his unpassionate Yet to be fair detailed approach does George the third no favours in my opinion so much happened in his reign and yet it felt very ploddy
Good summation at the end I would be amazed if people managed to get there I did as I find that period of history interesting but if you wanted that much detail of the boring side you could probably do your own research

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A history lesson as much as a biography

The character and tribulations of George III is wonderfully described. He is somewhat neglected British monarch and generally assumed to be an often mad fool if you are British. If you are an American you are likely to think of him as a tyrant.
This biography guides you through his long life. It paints a portrait of a sensitive man, loyal to family and country. Unlike many leaders at the dawn of the Enlightenment he was deeply religious but not intolerant personally. A man of his time yes, but a constitutional monarch and not a tyrant. His mental illness is ascribed, almost certainly correctly, to Mania and later dementia rather than porphyria.
What the book gives you is a blend of the political events, personalities and the history of the times.

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A BIG HISTORY LESSON

Excellent narrator
I've learned a lot of our history in this book, especially about the war of American independence
Also learned about the kings bipolar interval of manic depression. It says a lot about this man's fortitude in living a full and productive life, and yes I believe he does come across as a FULL Englishman. Excellent book, 1,000led cent better than that silly film

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Incredible, again

I’ve listened to almost all of Andrew Roberts books and they are always exemplary. I very much miss the characters that Andrew so cleverly brings to life whenever his books end. If only every historian was this well informed, authoritative and entertaining.

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  • 29-01-22

Go George III !!

brilliant! Super interesting! A must if you are interested in 18th century British history !

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Interesting book

I learned a lot about George 3rd and 18th century politics. The book is a bit long but I am glad I persevered until the end.

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Excellent

A marvellous insight into this misunderstood monarch. The research and detail is simply awesome.
Every chapter opens up incredible insights into the court of George III and his advisors and prime ministers.

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Fascinating political insight of the time

This book not only provides a history of George III, but also interweaves details about the politics of the time, which covers quite a few Prime Ministers. It is this detail that I really appreciated being particularly fascinated with the politics of this era.

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  • Jonathan Gonzalez Soler
  • 20-02-22

Yet one more Andrew Roberts masterpiece

His treatment of comprehensive (and some newly published) correspondence gives this biography a depth that is exquisite and very rich. As unbiased as one can expect from any leading historian. A pleasure to read/listen and to learn from.

1 person found this helpful