The Crown in Crisis – BBC History podcast, Reader’s Digest and more

Usually, by this stage in the publicity process, I am desperately casting about to find some item of interest about one of my books. However, with The Crown in Crisis, my cup runneth over, thanks to the kind way in which people have continued to respond to it and asked me to discuss it. Here are a few of the recent highlights.

I sat down with my good friend Dan Jones a couple of weeks ago in his sitting room, amidst a truly phenomenal rain shower, and we had a splendidly entertaining hour’s chat about all things abdication-related for the BBC History podcast. You can have a listen to it here. I’ve also recorded a podcast for the Daily Mirror’s Pod Save The Queen series, and will put a link up to it soon.

As ever with a book like mine, there are articles to be written, and I have enjoyed writing them. I looked at the murky circumstances of the George McMahon assassination attempt in July 1936 for The Critic, tried to give an insight into the behind-the-scenes creation of the book for The Arbuturian and wrote about Edward VIII’s disastrous trip to Scotland in September 1936 for Scotland magazine. I also gave an interview to Italian TV station RAI about potential Italian involvement in the assassination attempt, which you can watch here. The blustery weather made it more eventful than I might have expected.

Reader’s Digest magazine have very kindly made my book their ‘Recommended Read’ for their August issue, and have called it an ‘absorbing new book, [which] takes us through the whole. tangled story with great clarity’. It’s a three-page story, and well worth a read, which you can have here.

More reviews are coming over the next few weeks – fingers crossed – and I’m also thinking about some forthcoming events. I’m doing a couple of private talks in August for members of the Royal Over-Seas League and the Oxford and Cambridge Club – via the medium of Zoom, of course – but my first (and probably only) live event of 2020 will be in September at the Appledore Book Festival in Devon. You can book tickets here – it promises to be the first drive-in literary festival I’ve ever done, and probably quite the unique experience for us all.

As ever, thanks to everyone who has bought the book and enjoyed reading it. It is for all of you that I spend the hours, weeks and months researching and writing, and your continued support is hugely welcome. I am deeply grateful.

The Crown in Crisis – Times Books of Summer, History Hack and more…

Another week, another round of publicity. I’ve never before been involved with a book that has so excited people, and that is testament, I think, to its endlessly fascinating subject. Though I hope that it’s also that rare but wonderful thing- a good read.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed chatting to the marvellous people between History Hack, Alex and Alina – you can hear our conversation (without the really outrageous parts) here, and I’ve also done another Mail Plus video, this time focusing on the assassination attempt on Edward VIII by George McMahon, in which you can see me trying to sound and look knowledgeable while speaking into an iPhone here. I’m hoping that another podcast that I’ve done with a very special guest interviewer will be appearing very soon, too, and will flag it up when it appears.

The reviews continue to appear, which is very pleasing. I was thrilled that BBC History Revealed called the book ‘an enthralling look at the abdication of Edward VIII’ and that I apparently chart ‘the events of 1936 with a dynamic sense of drama’. And The Times included the book in their round-up of the best books of summer 2020, calling me a ‘lively historian’ and talking of my ‘entertaining tales and stern things to say about Edward VIII’. Have a read here, not least because there are lots of excellent books on it that are well worth buying and reading.

Lastly if you’ve bought the book from an online shop such as Amazon, Waterstones or Audible, do leave a review if you’ve enjoyed the book, as it makes a vast difference.

The Crown in Crisis – a Times Book of 2020, Dan Snow and more

As publication date approaches tomorrow, I’ve been exceptionally busy promoting and publicising the new book. It has been an honour to chat to so many people about the abdication crisis, the near-miss assassination attempt by George McMahon in July 1936 and much more besides. The conversations have been edifying, surprising and often made me rethink some of my assumptions and ideas. You can hear some of them as podcasts: it was a particular treat to talk to the great Dan Snow for his History Hit podcast, which you can listen to here. I’ll put the links up to the others when they appear.

I’m making a couple of radio appearances, too. I’m on Dan Wootton’s show on TalkRadio tonight at 6.30 and appearing on Matt Chorley’s morning show tomorrow at 11.30 on Times Radio. Very much looking forward to both appearances.

I’ve also done some filming, which has been exciting. I’ve talked to MailPlus’ programme Palace Confidential about all things Edward and Wallis, which can be seen here – I appear from about 16 minutes in.

And, of course, the reviews have started appearing, and I imagine will continue. I was delighted by a perceptive and engaged review by David Aaronovitch in The Times, and even more pleased by the paper not only making it their Book of the Week, but also listing it as one of their Best Books of 2020, which is extraordinarily flattering.

I’m sorry that I’m not going to be holding a physical book launch for the book, or a virtual one (I looked into it but it was too complicated and potentially embarrasing). And the dread coronavirus has meant that physical appearances are a good deal trickier than they once were. That said, I’ve signed a few copies in Hatchard’s – run, don’t walk to get one, as they’re the only signed copies in the shops at the moment anywhere – and there will be some virtual appearances coming up over the summer and autumn, all of which I’ll be letting you know about here in due course.

 

 

The Crown In Crisis – Daily Express, Daily Mail & The Guardian

Gosh, what a busy few days. I’m delighted that my book The Crown In Crisis has been serialised in the Daily Express yesterday (29 June) and today (30 June), with the content revolving around Edward VIII and his Nazi sympathies and the bizarre divorce case of Wallis Simpson. It’s especially appropriate because the Express, and its proprietor Lord Beaverbrook, plays such a central role in the book. You can have a read of the first extract here:

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/daily-express/20200629/281891595546382

Regular readers might also remember that I have mentioned George McMahon, Edward’s would-be assassin, before. I was thrilled that the Guardian, and several other papers (including Italy’s La Repubblica), have run a story about my discovery of McMahon’s extraordinary autobiographical document ‘He Was My King’, about his involvement with the Italian embassy and his MI5 links. Richard Kay of the Daily Mail has also done a fine write-up. You can read some of the pieces here:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8472853/RICHARD-KAY-Did-MI5-want-assassin-shoot-Edward-VIII-Newfound-dossiers-reveal-explosive-story.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/28/british-state-covered-up-plot-to-assassinate-king-edward-viii

A lot more to come – podcasts, TV appearances, reviews, etc. All will be linked to here as and when they appear.

 

The Crown in Crisis – Daily Telegraph serialisation

I’m delighted to announce that the book has been serialised in today’s Daily Telegraph, in the Telegraph Magazine. It’s an absolute thrill to see it in the paper and it looks fantastic, thanks to the rare and archive pictures that’s accompanying the story. You can read it online here – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2020/06/27/inside-story-loveaffair-almost-tore-apart-royal-family/ – but I would strongly recommend that you buy a paper, for full effect.

The Crown in Crisis – US publication date and first reactions

Not long to go now until British publication of The Crown in Crisis, which will be available from your local bookshop (should it have reopened) or online emporium of choice from Thursday 9 July. American readers will have their chance to purchase the book from 19 January 2021 (tbc), and more details will be here when I have them. (I’ve had a chance to see the US cover design, and I can happily say that it looks fantastic.)

While the reviews for the book won’t be out for a few weeks, I’ve sent the book to some heroes of mine, and they’ve responded with some extremely generous comments. Here they are, in all their glory:

Excellent, well written, deeply researched, THE CROWN IN CRISIS is a dynamic revisionist history of the Abdication that brings to life a national and personal drama with a flamboyant cast of princes, charlatans, socialites, courtiers, press barons, politicians and adventurers that is both heartbreaking and glamorous, scholarly and very entertaining. Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs

Alexander Larman’s well-researched and well-written THE CROWN IN CRISIS is both scholarly and highly readable. He has mastered the sources superbly, and his analysis of the extraordinary story is full of thought-provoking insights. Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

Anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of one of the key events of the 20th century, whose reverberations are still with us today, must read this book.

At times it beggars belief that so many diplomats, politicians, churchmen and newspaper editors devoted so much valuable thinking time to whether or not the King could marry Wallis Simpson.

Larman pulls apart the story and, having absorbed all the latest scholarship and newly released documents, knits it back together without dropping a stitch.

By seeing the crisis from multiple standpoints and accessing new information Larman creates a detailed, comprehensive and compulsively readable account of how the machinations of men at first threatened to derail but then ultimately saved the monarchy in time for the country to face the real enemy – Nazi Germany.

Larman combines the personal with the political, high drama with low morals, to create a compulsively readable account of one of the key events of the 20th century. Even those who think they know all there is to know about this story will find a fresh perspective in this engagingly fun and must read book.
Anne Sebba, author of That Woman

A completely fascinating and authoritative account of the Abdication Crisis, written with tremendous sophistication and insight. William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart

Finally, I have some very exciting news to reveal later this month, so stay tuned for further updates.

The Crown in Crisis – US publication details and UK pre-order

At this miserable and frightening time, some exciting news. I will be publishing The Crown in Crisis in the US later this year with St Martin’s Press. Any bibliophile knows the reputation that St Martin’s has in America, and it is an honour to be joining their stable. I’ll update this soon with details of the publication date and any more information.

For British readers, meanwhile, I’ve had a few people ask about where they can get hold of the book when it’s published. Obviously I’m hoping that you can buy it from your local bookshop, but in such an uncertain circumstance, it may be best to pre-order online. The best price I’ve found at the moment is through Hive – https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Alexander-Larman/The-Crown-in-Crisis–Countdown-to-the-Abdication/24894669 – but I’ll keep an eye out for any other offers.

The Crown in Crisis – cover reveal

‘The gun in McMahon’s pocket still held four bullets; more than enough, if he did not lose his nerve, to commit the act of regal assassination on which he was bound. Every bullet counts, he told himself.’

The Crown in Crisis, the new book by Alexander Larman.

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 9.7.2020

Crown in Crisis2

 

The Crown In Crisis

Monckton and Duke of Windsor

Happy 2019, everyone. 2018 was a mixed-to-rubbish year for me, because of the loss of various people close to me – not least my father-in-law, Will Alsop. However, things brightened somewhat towards the end of the year, thanks to some interesting professional opportunities, including writing for the excellent Drugstore Culture, and, best of all, the commissioning of my fourth book, The Crown In Crisis, by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

This concludes – for the time being, at least – an enjoyable and productive relationship with my former publisher, Head of Zeus, with whom I published Blazing Star, Restoration and Byron’s Women. Yet, like most historians and biographers, I have always wanted to join the W & N stable. Looking at my bookshelves, I see a lot of great names who have been published by them before – Simon Sebag Montefiore, Cecil Beaton, Kenneth Tynan, Alan Clark – and feel honoured to join their ranks. My thanks to my agent, Andrew Lownie, and to the indefatigable (and newly promoted) Alan Samson at Weidenfeld.

As for the book, it’s going to be a fresh, thrilling and surprising take on the abdication of Edward VIII. My interest was piqued, as many others’ was, by the excellent The Crown, but its depiction of Edward and Wallis – not to mention the likes of Alan ‘Tommy’ Lascelles – can only skim the surface. There is a wealth of untold and little-known stories around the events of 1936, including assassination attempts, cross-European espionage, sexual power play and the ever-present threat of a country on the brink of destruction. Only a few brilliant men and women – including Walter Monckton (pictured, with the Duke of Windsor) – could save Britain, and its throne, from ruin. I can’t wait to be able to share the finished work with you all.

Until then, I’ll keep you updated as to any significant or particularly interesting developments here, or over on Twitter, and, as ever, look forward to receiving your feedback, thoughts and suggestions, for this and any other books.

Alex