Disclaimer: Read via Netgalley courtesy of OUP.
In some ways, Karina Urbach’s Go-Betweens for Hitler is a good book to read before Royals and the Reich by Jonathan Petropoulus, but to say so diminishes Urbach for her writing, and therefore her book, are superior. Petropoulus’ book isn’t bad; it is a bit long winded. Urbach’s book is not long winded and her discussion of go-betweens is great.
I have no idea if Urbach’s claim about Go-Betweens being understudied is true, but I want to know more about this subject after reading this wonderful analysis. From my reading, I would say she seems to be correct, but it is hard to say. Yet, this book does go a long way to correcting that oversight.
Urbach starts with a study of Go-Betweens in the years leading up to as well as during WW I. This is necessary to provide not only background but an understanding of how such people operated. Urbach’s focus is on those of royal and quasi-royal families, showing how marriage networks did and did not function. Urbach looks at how the networks worked and did not worked, and in many ways her book deepened my understanding of Sweden’s position during WW II. And even the U.S. was not immune from the use of such networking.
Of course, this means that the royals don’t always come out looking well. This is highlighted when Urbach looks at what happened after.
Overall, the writing is engaging and engrossing. While Urbach packs her book with all types of detail about the families as well as the go-between business, at no point does the book feel dull or bogged down. In many chapters, it is almost as if Urbach is reading it to you, her voice is that engaging. It is almost like listening (or reading) a lecture – a good one. Though I do wonder, why when talking about Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe, the Princess is described as still having charm despite the fact that she is 50 and plump.
Can we please talk about men like that too? Just saying.
But honesty, that is the only flaw in this book. I learned quite a bit and am very pleased that I read this.