New Release Book Review: The King’s War by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi

The King’s War…

About the Book:

The extraordinary follow-up to the international bestseller The King’s Speech

The broadcast that George VI made to the nation on the outbreak of war in September 1939 – which formed the climax of the multi Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech – was the product of years of hard work with Lionel Logue, his iconoclastic Australian-born speech therapist. Yet the relationship between the two men did not end there. Far from it: in the years that followed, Logue was to play an even more important role at the monarch’s side.

THE KING’S WAR follows this relationship through the dark days of Dunkirk and the drama of D-Day to eventual victory in 1945 – and beyond. It is written by Peter Conradi, a Sunday Times journalist, and Mark Logue, Lionel’s grandson, whose previous book, The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy, was a best-seller in Britain and America and translated into more than 20 languages.
The book draws on exclusive material from the Logue Archive – the collection of diaries, letters and other documents left by Lionel and his feisty wife, Myrtle. It provides a fascinating portrait of two men and their respective families – the Windsors and the Logues – as they together faced up to the greatest challenge in Britain’s history.

My Thoughts:

Following on from The King’s Speech, The King’s War examines the relationship between Lionel Logue and King George VI throughout the war years and beyond, up until the deaths of both men. More than this though, it is a detailed account of Britain at war, specifically, Londoners, and what they endured for the six long years of WWII. Intimate and anecdotal, The King’s War reads in a way that is as accessible as fiction, yet its content is grounded in facts. I found this book to be incredibly engaging, and it really opened my eyes to the war years in Britain, a history that I have only ever explored in the most casual of ways.

‘…and then one by one, as a switch was pulled, each area went dark, the dazzle becoming a patchwork of lights being snuffed out here and there until a last one remained, and it too went out. What was left was more than just wartime blackout, it was a fearful portent of what war was to be. We had not thought that we would have to fight in darkness, or that light would be our enemy.’ – Felicity Goodall, Life during the blackout, Guardian, 1 Nov 2009.

I have not read The King’s Speech but I did watch the film and enjoyed it immensely. From that film, I then hopscotched over to The Crown, which I also enjoyed. George VI is a King that interests me greatly. He came to the job with reluctance and an impediment, both of which he overcame, becoming a most beloved monarch. My views on him have been confirmed through reading The King’s War, and I feel as though he was a man to be greatly admired. His working relationship with Logue spilled into friendship, and this was really heart-warming to read about. There was so much respect and admiration evident between the two men, and the appreciation that the immediate royal family and household had for Logue was apparent. When you think back to that speech the King made at the beginning of the war, the progress he charts over the course of his life is phenomenal. There are so many people who never control their stammers to the degree that he was able to accomplish, and for one in such a high profile position, that he did overcome it is testimony to the hard work on the part of both the King and Logue.

‘I wonder if you realise how grateful I am to you for having made it possible for me to carry out this vital part of my job. I cannot thank you enough.’ – King George VI in a letter to Lionel Logue

‘When a fresh patient comes to me the usual query is – “Will I be able to speak like the King?”, and my reply is, “Yes, if you will work like he does” – I will cure anyone of intelligence if they will only work like you did – for you are now reaping the benefit of this tremendously hard work you did at the beginning. I look forward to the initial preparation of your speeches with keen pleasure, knowing that the delivery will be all that is required, as the greatest pleasure in my life has been the honour of working with you.’ – Lionel Logue in a letter to King George VI

‘I think that I know perhaps better than anyone just how much you helped the King, not only with his speech, but through his whole life and outlook on life. I shall always be deeply grateful to you for all you did for him.’ Elizabeth – Queen Mother in a letter to Lionel Logue after the passing of her husband King George VI

The King’s War is a fine achievement, well researched, but put together with the reader in mind. I enjoyed the anecdotal accounts of the ins and outs of life during the war. The sacrifice that was stoically borne, the deprivations, the relentless attacks from the German air raiders. This is all interwoven with the daily lives of the King and Queen, along with the Logue family, and the ties that bound these two families together. Extracts from the key speeches given throughout the war years, by both Churchill and King George VI, are included, and on more than one occasion the poignancy of these words gave me goose-bumps. The King’s War is an inspiring read. I highly recommend it.


Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of The King’s War for review.

About the Authors:

Mark Logue is the grandson of Lionel Logue. He is a film maker and the custodian of the Logue Archive. He lives in London. Peter Conradi is an author and journalist. He works for the Sunday Times and his last book was Hitler’s Piano Player: The Rise and fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl.

The King’s War
Published by Hachette Australia (Quercus)
Released on 30th October 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s