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Extended Audio Sample Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch Audiobook, by Sally Bedell Smith Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00026705835225 out of 53.00026705835225 out of 53.00026705835225 out of 53.00026705835225 out of 53.00026705835225 out of 5 3.00 (7,489 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sally Bedell Smith Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9780307934185
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From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace. 
In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive”when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibetas she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.
Compulsively readable and scrupulously researched, Elizabeth the Queen is a close-up view of a woman we’ve known only from a distance, illuminating the lively personality, sense of humor, and canny intelligence with which she meets the most demanding work and family obligations. It is also a fascinating window into life at the center of the last great monarchy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Fascinating….After 60 years on the throne, the monarch of Britain is better known for her poker face than for sly wit or easy charm. Yet in biographer Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen, Her Majesty sparkles with both. Via interviews with a legion of royal watchers, from horse trainers to lords and ladies, Smith teases out a woman both austere and animated, duty-bound yet undeniably authentic. More
  • All the details are here for the reader to gather a comprehensive picture of a life so rarefied none of us could imagine it….[Smith] brings into focus the personal side of the ordinary-extraordinary balancing act that has been not only the queen’s trademark style but also the cause for continued appreciation. Booklist
    A respectful, engrossing, and perceptive portrayal.
  • She was so young, and the task was so enormous. Yet with grace and a determination to do her duty come what may—and so much has indeed come—Elizabeth II studiously made herself part of the fabric of global civilization in the most tumultuous of times. This is a terrific book about a fascinating figure. JON MEACHAM
  • A deeply researched, unvarnished, and therefore totally fascinating portrait of the transcendent icon of our age . . . Many authors have written about Elizabeth II, but none of them can match the literary style, wit, or insightful commentary of Sally Bedell Smith. AMANDA FOREMAN
  • In an era plagued by flawed public figures, the world’s most famous woman has graced her realm impeccably for sixty years. She does so by being both mysterious and grounded. Sally Bedell Smith, through great reporting and insightful writing, provides a revealing look inside the palace to show how the Queen balances being both modern and traditional. Our celebrity-saturated world could learn a lot from her—and from this book. WALTER ISAACSON
  • This is a biography that avoids none of the difficult questions. Sally Bedell Smith asks them in a way no one else has dared. NANCY MILFORD
  • Elizabeth the Queen shows the woman as well as the monarch, and helps us to understand how Elizabeth has become a key figure in the history of our times. MARGARET MACMILLAN
  • Elizabeth the Queen is an engaging, insightful, and altogether entertaining journey through the life and trials of the world’s most beloved monarch. By the end of Sally Bedell Smith’s winning book, I felt as if I had a new friend in Buckingham Palace. TOM BROKAW
  • A compelling, deeply human portrait of the remarkable Elizabeth II. This is a biography not to be missed. LYNNE OLSON
  • Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen is a remarkable and sympathetic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. At the same time, it provides a fascinating picture of the major modern enterprise that monarchy has become. It is a deft and very readable book. MICHAEL KORDA
  • Sally Bedell Smith's book on Queen Elizabeth II is an enterprising, well-researched and intelligent work on a difficult subject, and deserves to be widely read. PAUL JOHNSON

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracy | 2/16/2014

    " This was a marvelous book. E II R is someone to be admired for so many reasons, not the least is which her solid commitment to reign for the best of the Commonwealth and be as a-political as possible. She's smart, stays informed on everything that might affect the many countries and cultures of the British Commonwealth, and weathers the storms her relatives create. My only challenge was I needed a dictionary at hand to look up some of her terminology. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate Irwin-smiler | 2/12/2014

    " A fairly fawning and superficial look at Elizabeth II. At least now I think I'll remember which one was Princess Margaret and Princess Anne. I disappointed to say I'm still not clear on the queen's actual constitutional role tho. Fortunately, it was an engaging read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 2/8/2014

    " An unauthorized biography of Queen Elizabeth. The 1st half was very interesting. But the 2nd half was boring, prime ministers, tours and scandals involving her children. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly | 1/29/2014

    " This was a engaging book to read. It was a flattering biography that made any of the Queen's flaws understandable. For example, I was in my early teens when Charles married Diana and always felt more drawn to Diana's side of that royal story. This book showed me another side, one that is more favorable to Charles and his family. The compelling writing and plentiful photographs made the 555 pages of main text go quickly. Then there were 130 pages of source notes, bibliography, index, and acknowledgements - all of which show the research that went into the book. I enjoyed it very much! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara | 1/28/2014

    " Amazing life "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 1/24/2014

    " WONDERFUL! Lots of fresh details. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pamela Ferguson | 1/14/2014

    " Wow, a sweeping read of the 60 years that Elizabeth II has been serving her country and commonwealth on the throne! It's a very chronological read but I enjoyed it very much. Long live the Queen! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Rotatori | 1/13/2014

    " Obviously written by someone who is pro monarchy but enjoyable nonetheless. It provides an interesting view of her world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mikie Gillmore | 1/13/2014

    " While the information presented was fascinating, this book could have been commissioned by the palace for all the bias it shows toward the queen and against Diana. Astonishing, since this author also wrote a Diana biography, but in this work paints her as mentally unstable and dead set on ruining the monarchy. There is also lots of excuse-making for certain behaviors of the queen, especially her absence from her older children's lives, that could reasonably be called into question. All of that aside, the information was truly fascinating for someone as fascinated as I am by the royal family. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth Blakely | 1/7/2014

    " Very detailed book. sometimes there was more information than maybe was completely necessary. The author clearly is E II R fan, which is fine. It was an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Mckay | 12/26/2013

    " I really enjoyed this look into her life, her leadership and her legacy. It will be interesting as the time unfolds to see what the future holds for the monarch. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 I. | 12/23/2013

    " Nothing really new here, but a well written book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 12/13/2013

    " Very interesting biography as well as history of the British monarchy. Fun facts: the Queen does her own makeup, dislikes gossip, and has a very good sense of humor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Bray | 12/12/2013

    " An excellent biography. Engagingly written, not dry at all. Shows a more human side of a person that deliberately (and justifiably) keeps her emotions hidden. A definite must-read for Anglophiles like me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 8/9/2013

    " The British press' lack of freedom is really quite appalling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol Ann | 8/3/2013

    " As a former Canadian I was anxious to find out how "normal" the House of Windsor is. Well, it's not, but there are enough touching moments to keep your interest throughout. It was a very easy read and I raise my gin and tonic and shout "God save the Queen" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nina Chambers | 5/14/2013

    " An amazing & intuitive horsewoman. I love that at 86 she still rides everyday if possible & has switched to Fell ponies. Atta girl! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 5/4/2013

    " This book was slow but informative. I'm not sure how much of it was edited to make the queen and monarchy look good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Trevor | 4/30/2013

    " Moderately interesting, but one can never quite overcome the inkling that it is ll just made up. Like Barbapapa. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roxie | 4/20/2013

    " I find Elizabeth's youth and early years as queen to be fascinating. Once we get to the 60's however, I got bored so I left it unfinished. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 1/26/2013

    " I think the royal family is just fascinating. I don't know much about Queen Elizabeth so I'm looking forward to reading this. All the history and just living that life sounds so interesting. I'm really looking forward to reading this. Plus I'm excited because I won it on my b-day!!! :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 11/12/2012

    " An interesting read, and certainly casts the Queen in a good light. Very pro-Queen and Prince Phillip and very anti-Diana. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 7/2/2012

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have always admired the queen, but now my respect has ratcheted up a bunch of notches. She is smart, funny and has the constitution of a woman half her age. It's too bad she can't rule for another 60 years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristie Helms | 4/25/2012

    " Absolutely fascinated by this look at the Queen's life... a bit hard-handed around the subject of Diana, but otherwise a great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria | 3/28/2012

    " I only read half of it, but made me think of the Queen as a friend. "

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About the Author
Author Sally Bedell Smith

Sally Bedell Smith is the author of bestselling biographies of William S. Paley, Pamela Harriman, Princess Diana, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1996, she previously worked at Time and The New York Times, where she was a cultural news reporter. She is the mother of three children and lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, Stephen G. Smith.

About the Narrator

Rosalyn Landor has won twelve AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the Audie Award. She has worked as an actor since the age of seven, both in Europe and the United States. Her extensive list of credits includes leading roles in film, theater, and audio productions, as well as in various miniseries on all the major television networks and in such productions as Masterpiece Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and Rumpole of the Bailey.