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Sister Mary Murderous

Favorite genres are traditional mystery, police procedurals, espionage, Eurocrime, literary fiction and nonfiction history, especially WW2 and Cold War.  I write about crime fiction at Read Me Deadly (www.readmedeadly.com)

I had low expectations––and they still weren't met

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

Andrew Morton is not an author I'd seek out for authoritative history, so I wasn't anticipating that when I decided to read this book.  Also, the title is a tip-off that this shouldn't be approached very seriously.  The "17 carnations" is a reference to the scurrilous and unproven rumor that Nazi Ambassador to England, von Ribbentrop, had an affair with Wallis Warfield Simpson at the same time she was having one with the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor), and that the Ambassador daily sent her 17 carnations to memorialize their 17 sexual trysts.


Still, the book description promises that we'll receive the full story behind a "daring heist ordered by King George VI [and] the smooth duplicity of a Soviet spy" over "damning letters" between a Edward and the Nazi high command, and more revelations about Wallis's affair with Ribbentrop.  All in all, a "saga of intrigue, betrayal, and deception suffused with a heady aroma of sex and suspicion."  What a crock!  If that description makes you want to read this book, put your credit card away, because it doesn't at all accurately describe its contents.


Morton trots out some well-worn stories about the couple's sex lives, but he keeps it brief and that's fine with me.  What I wanted to hear about was the information Morton supposedly unearthed from extensive archival resources, and this heist story.  To put the second part first, there was no heist.  There are a couple of pages of the book describing a couple of British representatives taking a bunch of files from a German schloss held by American forces at the end of WW2, as Soviet forces approached.  It was in broad daylight and the only arguably heist-like element was that they didn't wait for approval from the American officer in charge.


As for the for all this information about Edward and the Nazis, there is nothing particularly new or helpful in this book.  Morton refers repeatedly to the so-called Windsor File, but he is very unclear about its contents.  Instead, he describes, in mind-numbing detail, the attempts by the British monarchy and government to destroy the file, or at least suppress its appearance in the documentary history project that was ongoing in the years after the war.  Their attempts were unsuccessful, and the history of the Windsor File has been detailed in previous books and journal articles.


Interspersed with this documentary story, Morton describes Edward and Wallis's pathetic and wasted lives after his abdication, with particular focus on the couple's vapidity and selfishness.  Nothing new there, either.


I am at a loss to see the point of this book.


Note: I was given an advance copy of this book for review.