Sunday 30 October 2016

Book Review: The Swan King - Ludwig II of Bavaria by Christopher McIntosh

Title: The Swan King - Ludwig II of Bavaria
Author: Christopher McIntosh
Publisher: I.B. Tauris
Publication Date: 2012 (1982) 
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography
Source: Gift

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A revealing and detailed biography of one of the most enigmatic figures of the nineteenth century Refreshingly accessible and thoroughly researched, this biography captures as never before the story of Ludwig II of Bavaria. Ludwig is best remembered for his patronage of Wagner and for the fantasy-like palaces he created. The Swan King presents new conclusions on the more uncertain aspects of Ludwig II's life including his homosexuality, his supposed madness, and the mystery of his death. (Goodreads Synopsis)

I've long had a general knowledge of Ludwig II, but it was really just an overview and mostly in connection with Sissi of Austria, so I was keen to read a biography of the man himself. The Swan King is dated in some ways, being over thirty years old, but it offers an accessible portrait of Ludwig and his times in clear, simple prose that has a story-like quality, making it equally suitable for serious history buffs and the casual reader. Although McIntosh clearly has personal opinions, he offers a reasoned argument and considers every side. If anything, this book has made me even more interested in Ludwig and I hope to read more about him in the future. Maybe one day I'll even make it to Bavaria to see some of his castles for myself!


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