Royals at University

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It used to be that a Prince went to University in a different way–he did not earn a degree, he merely went to round-out his education a bit. However, since the end of World War II, British royals have routinely gone to a University and earned a degree.

Who has gone and to which university? Today we’ll find out.


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Prince Charles in his scholar’s gown as a new student at Trinity College, Cambridge


The various colleges of the University of Cambridge have had the greatest number of royal students, starting in the old, non-degree days of royal students with Albert Edward, Prince of Wales–Queen Victoria’s eldest son and heir (later Edward VII).  That poor Prince was made to live apart from other students in what amounted to house arrest and had to attend both Cambridge and Oxford to avoid showing favoritism!! Here’s the list of all the royals who’ve attended University.

Trinity College

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII)

Prince Albert Victor of Wales (son of Albert Edward)

Lord Louis Mountbatten (formerly Prince Louis Francis of Battenberg, later Earl Mountbatten of Burma)

Prince Albert (later King George VI)

Prince Henry (later Duke of Gloucester)

All of these princes (and one former prince) attend for a period of time, but did not earn degrees.

Those Who Earned Degrees:

Trinty College

Charles, Prince of Wales, earned a degree in History, Archeology and Anthropology. (Charles also spent a term at Aberystwyth University in Wales studying the Welsh language for his investiture as Prince of Wales.] Later he attended the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, too.

The Hon. Angus Ogilvy,  husband of Princess Alexandra of Kent, earned a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Magdalene College

Prince Willliam of Gloucester, once a page boy in the Queen’s wedding, grew up to earn a degree in history. He did post graduate studies at Stanford for one year.

Prince Richard of Gloucester (now Duke of Gloucster) earned a degree in Architecture. He was a practising Architect in private practice and published books on London architecture before assuming royal duties upon becoming the Duke of Gloucester.

Jesus College

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex,  earned a degree in history.


Christ Church College

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII)

Magdalen College

Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII and later Duke of Windsor). He did not earn a degree.

Lord Frederick Windsor, son of Prince Michael of Kent, earned a degree in classics.

Downing College

George, Earl of St. Andrews, elder son and heir of H.R.H. the Duke of Kent. He earned a degree

Harris Manchester College

Lord Nicholas Windsor, younger son of the Duke of Kent. He earned a degree in Theology.

Kebel College

Edward, Baron Downpatrick, grandson of H.R.H. the Duke of Kent earned his degree in modern lanaguages and was President of the Bullingdon Club–the most exclusive “fratenity”/club on campus.

Linacre College

Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of Prince Michael of Kent earned a graduate degree in Social Anthropology. She also has a B.A. from Brown University in the USA.

University of Edinburgh

Samuel Chatto, grandson of Princess Margaret, is currently at student.

Arthur Chatto, grandson of Princess Margaret, is also a current student.

Lady Amelia Windsor, grandaughter of H.R.H. the Duke of Kent studies modern languages.


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Queen Elizabeth’s eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, at his Exter graduation.

University of Exter

Peter Phillips, son of the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) earned a degree in Sports Science.

Zara Phillips Tindall attended Exeter and qualified as a physiotherapist. (Some sources say this was equine physiotherapy.)

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Princess Beatrice of York, who overccame dyslexia, with her parents Prince Andrew, Duke of York and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York.


University of London

Goldsmiths College

Princess Beatrice of York earned her degree here in history of ideas.

Cassius Taylor, grandson of H.R.H. the Duke of Kent is/was a student here.

King’s College

Alexander, Earl of Ulster, heir of H.R. H. the Duke of Gloucester. He earned a degree in War Studies. He also graduated from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, which unlike West Point, does not grant academic degrees. (His wife, Claire, Countess of Ulster,  studied medicine and is today a doctor.)

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Prince William’s St. Andrew’s graduation picture. He met his wife, the former Catherine Middleton, there.

University of St. Andrews

James Ogilvy, son of Princess Alexandra of Kent, earned a degree in History of Art.

Julia Ogilvy, wife of James, also earned a degree at St. Andrews. Now having been successful in business with her children grown up, she is currently a Master’s student at Harvard Divinity School in the other Cambridge–Massachusettes.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, earned a degree in Geography here.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, met Prince William at St. Andrews while studying for a degree in History of Art.

Other Universities

Bristol University

Flora Ogilvy, granddaughter of Princess Alexandra of Kent, degree in History of Art. [Trivia: Flora had a bit part as a debutante in Downton Abbey.]

Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island, USA)

Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of Prince Michael of Kent earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature. She also earned a graduate degree in  Social Antropology from Linacre College, Oxford.

Loughborough University

Charles, Viscount Linely, heir of the Earl of Snowden and grandson of Princess Margaret is currently a student here.

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Autumn Phillips (wife of Peter) earned a degree in East Asian Studies.

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Princess Eugenie at Newcastle University’s graduation

Newcastle University

Princess Eugenie earend a degree in History of Art and English Literature

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The “other” Prince William (of Gloucester) at Stanford

Stanford University (Palo Alto, California, USA)

Prince William of Gloucester did a year of post-graduate studies here.

University ofthe West of England

Lady Davina Windsor (now Lewis), elder daughter of H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester, earned a degree in Media Studies.

York University, Ontario, Canada

Sylvana, Countess of St. Andrews (daughter-in-law of the Duke of Kent) received her B.A. here.


I Spy Book Challenge


I hope it is ok to use this graphic!

Blogger Dwell in Possibility spotted this fun book tag over on Books and Me!! (She believes it was first created by Booktuber BooksandLala), and, like her,  I had to join in.

Here are the rules:

Find a book on your bookshelves that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!! (or longer if you have way too many books on way too many overcrowded shelves!

I admit I’ve had to go to my Goodreads bookshelves as I now really only buy books on royalty, Roosevelts, Churchills and a few historical eras. A few are actually on my real bookshelves though. I hope that’s ok?

1. Food


Tortilla Curtain


2. Transportation


Ship of Brides


3. Weapon


Guns of August


4. Animal


H is for Hawk


5. Number



Ten Days That Shook The World

6. Something You Read


The Romance Reader

You can read a “romance” or, back in my school days, you read from your “reader” in reading class.

7. Body of Water


Gift From the Sea

8. Product of Fire


Flame Trees of Thika

9. Royalty



Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle


10. Architecture


Wolf Hall


11.  Item of Clothing


Kashmir Shawl


12. Family Member


Life With Father

13.  Time of Day


Darkness at Noon

14. Music


The Gustav Sonata

15. Paranormal Being


Ghost Map

16. Occupation


Vicar of Wakefield


17. Season


The Long Winter


18. Color


Red Tent


19.  Celestial Body


Girl Who Chased the Moon


20. Something That Grows



Where the Lillies Bloom








Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Humorous Novels


This week’s topic is: Favorite Jokesters Humorous Novels
“In honor of April Fools (a bit late but hey, I don’t control when Wednesdays fall), talk about your favorite jokesters, pranksters, and funny characters.” 

Or, in my case, my favorite humorous novels.

Auntie Mame and the Joyous Season


To say that Patrick Dennis was a comedy genius is probably a bit much. Probably. His comedies are of manners, not slapstick stunts. Auntie Mame is the best of his work, followed by my favorite, The Joyous Season. I’ve included both here as one entry since they are the same author. There is also a sequel to Auntie Mame–Around the World With Auntie Mame which I didn’t find as funny. All three are citizens of their time–the late 1950s and early 1960s. There is some dated humor, but happily most if it stands the test of time.


Changing Places



Lodge is a very funny writer and this send-up of academic manners, academic communities and academic life in general is very funny. Most fun I’ve had reading a book recommended by a professor (in 1983 and re-read since).  Changing Places by David Lodge


The Queen and I and Queen Camilla


Sue Townsend is brilliant! Her books of the exhiled Windsor family–sent to a sink estate/exclusion zone for undesireables are comedy at its best. Imagine the Queen Mother needing a 50p coin for the gas meter! Or the Queen queing at the dole office to get money for dog food. So much hilarity. I’ve again counted two as one since they are by the same author. All of her books are fun reads. Sue Townsend books.


The Calvin Becker Trilogy



Frank Schaeffer did well to follow the advice given to all would-be writers: “Write What You Know.” And did he…. His real-life parents, Evangelical Christian Mega-Stars Fran and Edith Schaeffer are hilariously skewered in this less than reverential trilogy told by their youngest child, renamed Calvin. Say the words “gospel walnut” and I still nearly pee my pants laughing. Yes, I read these and remained a Christian.  The  Calvin Becker triology is a triumph of comedy.


Number Five

The fifth writer/book, I just couldn’t pick: Bridget Jones? P.G. Wodehouse? Pickwick Papers? (Well, the funny parts at least),  Cold Comfort FarmLucky Jim? There were so many great writers to choose from! I’ve left out so many.

Please note: I detested Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and may be they only person alive who will admit it. It didn’t help that Stephen Frye read the audio version I listened to. I even forced myself to finish it. Not very funny.  And, another that pops up on every list of Comedy Classics is Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies. It’s vile–as in I didn’t really find it’s humor stood the test of time.


Want to join the Top 5 Wednesday Fun? You’ll find the topics in the Goodreads group. Then write your post or make a video for youtube and you’re off!

April-ish Books



“April showers bring may flowers.” “What do Mayflowers bring?” “Pilgrims.” Sigh…I can remember that but can’t remember how to figure a tip in a restaurant (or other important things). It’s raining here–flash flooding even. Of course. It’s April in the Ohio River Valley. Here are a two great April-ish titles for your pleasure.


Across Five Aprils



When the Civil War begins, Jethro is helping on the family farm in Southern Illinois. Like some young people today, Jethro takes a stand and speaks up. It is not about anything predictable, but it is a truly important cause. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt.





Come Rain, Come Shine



If this title doesn’t evoke April, I don’t know what does! This week it snowed, then if poured rain, it’s supposed to then be in the 70s and then more snow! “Rain or shine” is a common addendum to invitations to outdoor events in my neck of the woods. Come Rain, Come Shine by Jan Karon.





How about you? Any good April-ish books on your shelves or to-read list? Why not share them in a comment?

Review: Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport


If you know anything of Russian royal history, you likely recognize the acronymn OTMA.  It stood for the first initials of the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia–the four daughters of Tzar Nicholas II and his Empress, Alexandra. But what do we know OF them, beyond the cute collective name? Until this book, we knew little beyond what was told of the family as a whole. We knew, for example, that with their mother, they nursed wounded soldiers in World War I and, of course, we knew of their tragic end. While historian Robert K. Massie brought us the harrowing story of their parents and their little brother, Tzarevich Alexi–the hemophiliac whose genetically transmitted illness brought the family to the edge of disaster when Alexanadra befriended Rasputin, little has been written about each of the girls.

Author Helen Rapport writes with the help of documents released after the fall of the Soviet Union and beyond. She brings OTMA alive collectively and individually. The spectre of hemophilia–inherited from Alexandra, thru her mother Princess Alice and Alice’s mother Queen Victoria, was a factor in the plans for their future lives. Would they achieve the marriages a Tzar’s daughter should have? Would things be changed so that Olga, the eldest, would be a regent or, even a become Empress in the tradition of Catherine the Great? Or, if Alexi died, would the throne pass to male relatives.

In the book we learn of the young officers who charmed and entertained the Grand Duchesses. We learn of their daily life, their studies, their devoted and close family life. (Had Nicholas’ “twin” first cousin, George V, learned from his cousin’s devoted fatherhood, British history could have been changed for the better.) I found myself aching for these girls who were forced to live in such strict isolation. I thought instantly of today’s over-shleted, extremely isolated far-right homeschooled girls as I read of this part of their lives. But nature marches on and no matter how isolated the girls grew into young women–young women who liked young men and dreamed of love and happy marriages. And, how amazing for Grand Duchesses, to have grown up with parents who were devotedly in love with each other?

The war, the revolution and the horrible end, showed that these young Grand Duchesses were not mere hot house flowers. They coped, they faced, the endured–dare we say #theypersisted? Yes. Sadly, one daughter (no spoilers) could have survived had she accepted King Carol of Romania. That actually made me cry even though he was certainly no prize as a husband.

Happily, while politics does enter into the story, as does the war, neither takes over the story. Nor are we dealt endless pages of royal history at the start. This is a very good thing for the casual reader.

How do they relate to current royals?



Queen Elizabeth’s Uncle David (later King Edward VIII and later still Duke of Windsor) is at the left next to Tzar Nicholas II, the Queen’s gradfather, King George V has his hands on Tzarevich Alexei at the right. (The Queen’s father was ill and not able to take part in this last State Visit)

To put these girls into a historical perspective that modern royal watchers can grasp, think of this:  Had the war not come, any of the four–in fact more than one, could have married Queen Elizabeth’s father and uncles. The Queen’s grandfather was first cousin of both Nicholas and Alexandra. Her grandmother, Queen Alexandra was the near-twin sister of Nicholas’ mother, Empress Maria Feodorovoa.

Had the war not come, King Edward VIII might have reigned until his death in 1972 with Queen Olga or Queen Tatiana by his side.  Wallis Simpson would never have been heard of. They would likely have visited with their cousin Emperor Wilhelm III of Germany and his Empress Anastasia, say. The royal sisters would have been like Queen Alexandra and her sister, Empress Marie.  And, Prince Louis Francis of Battenberg might have won the beautiful Maria–the cousin he dreamed of marrying long before any thought had to be given to changing Battenbergs into Mountbattens.

When visiting Russia for the first state visit since before World War I, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband,  is supposed to have replied to the question of if he was happy to be in Russia: “Yes, they killed most of my family, but I’m happy to be here.” His  grandmother was Alexandra’s big sister. Philip’s DNA was used to identify the remains of OTMA and their parents. His grandmother’s other sister, Ella [Elizabeth], is now an Holy Martyr of the Russia Orthodox Church–a step on the ladder to Sanithood. [His mother is included in the Rightous Among Nations for sheltering a Jewish family in World War II in Greece,  but I’m digressing].

My Verdict

4 Stars

Possibly the most readable Romanov book since Nicholas and Alexandra in 1967. This would make a fabulous period drama-miniseries! And, I’d love to see Jessica Findlay Brown as one of the Grand Duchesses.

The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

Review: Any Human Heart by William Boyd


William Boyd is an author I love, but forget to read. That sounds contradictory, but it isn’t. A Good Man In Africa had such an effect on me that I feel like I know this author! (Of course I don’t!). (Note: the movie is good, too). (Note 2: I have re-read that book a few times and always think Prince William of Gloucster is somehow the Morgan!!! Probably because he was a diplomat in Nigeria for a while.) Probably since this book was published several months after my children joined my life I am just now getting to it. I hope to catch-up on more of his books as well.

The Story

Logan Mountstuart starts writing a diary at his lesser public (private) school in about 1920. He and his two best friends decide to shake things up by setting challenges for each other (no spoilers). This seems to be the theme of his life.  Throughout the years of his adult life he often keeps a diary. The story, therefore, is told in chronological oder–something I like. I get tired of either constant jumps back-and-for-and-around in time or of the genre I think of as “Old lady tells her story to incredulous modern young person” which I’ve come to loathe. I liked that Logan’s story just goes forward.

There’s a royal tie-in that made it all even more interesting, even if it is an era that I know quite a lot about. During World War II, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were exhiled to the Bahamas, where the former King of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland and it’s Empire was reduced to administering the few duties as his younger  brother, George VI’s, representative on an even smaller island. The death of Harry Oakes is a big blot on the Duke’s record. His handling of the siutaion as as bad as Boyd makes it out to be in Logan’s diary.

Boyd makes Logan real. The emotions, the aches and pains, the love and lust–all are real. The last years in London left me saying “this is me in 20 years.” (Again, no spoilers).  Let’s just say I’m glad “Bowser” isn’t a brand here. (Read the story) though we all have heard similar tales from that line of goods before.

I also had a fun personal moment when Logan’s story and the characters in one of my books were in the same place, class and time. I had a great time imagining them meeting at a dinner party or on the golf course.

My one complaint on the book is that Ian Fleming drops out of it after the war. I’d like to have seen him in it more after his great financial success with the James Bond books.

A Post Script: William Boyd was at school with Prince Charles and wrote a television play about the experience at fictionalized version of the school Charles called Colditz in Kilts.

This book was also made into a t.v. series shown on PBS Masterpiece. I apparently missed it as we’d just given up television the year it was broadcast! Just my luck.

Any Human Heart by William Boyd



Top 5 Wednesday: Top Teachers or Mentors



There was a special plea to skip Harry Potter! Top 5 Wednesday tends to get HP as a response on just about every topic, which is ok by me, even if I’m not such a huge fan. To each her own!

These are not in any special order.

Favorite Fictional Teachers


David Powlett-Jones

To Serve Them All My Days

I love this book, I adored the somewhat revised/edited tv version from the 80s or 90s, too.  I loathe the new cover which has absolutely nothing what-so-ever to do with the story, so I’m using the cover I love! Coal miners son-turned Grammar School boy-turned schoolmaster David Powlett-Jones comes home from World War I to recover from Shell Shock at Bamfylde–a second or third tier British Public [i.e. private prep school like Groton] School and stays. Along the way he meets life and love head on. There is so much in this rich novel! R.F. Delderfield remains one of my very favorite authors of all time, though today each of his tremendous books would be chopped up into a series. To Serve Them All My Days.

Upper-class muscular Christianity at it’s best in that opening song from school chapel!

Jean Brodie



Muriel Spark was a master of the very short novel. Not a novella, a full novel, just told on few pages. Jean Brodie–the role in which Maggie Smith honed her McGonagall brogue (in the movie version) is masterpiece of spinsterly schoolmistriss priggishness.  I loved every word. So what if she was dead wrong on Mussolini–many were in that day. We must remember, she was in the PRIME of LIFE! The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

[Another note on the t.v. version. Before Jim Carter made “Carson” the catchword for butlers, Gordon Jackson, aka Gordon Lowther in Miss Brodie] had made “Hudson” mean the same in the original (and ONLY) Upstairs, Downstairs in the 1970s.]

There was also an excellent t.v. version.

Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Favorite Real Life Teachers in Books and Movies

This was a very hard list to narrow down! I’ve read so many inspiring, true teacher stories. Jaime Escalante of the movie “Stand and Deliver,” Marva Collins, so many, many excellent choices.  I’ve read about Kurt Hahn, about masters at Eton and about teachers from Teach (formerly Teach for America) and in the Peace Corps that finding just a few was rough. So there are not necessarily my “very, very favorite” just the three that first came to mind.


Water is Wide



Author Pat Conroy spent a year teaching on a small, deeply impoverished island off South Carolina in the late 1960s. This is the fictionalized account. Few people outside the area knew such a Third World existence happened in America before this book.

Note: Angelia Jolie’s Dad, John Voight, played the fictious teacher in the movie which was renamed “Conrack.”


Freedom Writers Diary



I put this one in because my kids made me watch the movie and I’m glad I did. I’m even happier that the book, read in class, and the movie (watched after) so resonated with my kids. A powerful testament to what CAN happen in school when it is allowed. Today our schools are mired in culture war, haves vs have nots war, the testing warand so much more, that almost nothing inspiring can happen. Moments like this are essential and must be treasured. Freedom Writers Diary.


Savage Inequalities



This book is not about one teacher, but I’ve included it because everything in it, all these years later (it was published in ’88), is still present in our schools. This is for the teachers who daily face the battle or doing the impossible for those least prepared to learn with the least support of anyone in power and with the least amount of money. Yes, the author is a well-known bleeding heart. Tough. He hit the nail on the head with this one. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol.




Dame Maggie Smith as Minerva McGoinigal in Harry Potter


Would you like to participate in Top 5 Wednesday? Join the group on and then post your list on your blog or a video on

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place In Another Country


A Year of Reading the World blog is a great resource if you’d like to read about other countries. Here at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life you can click on Reading the Globe or Reading Around the World in the tag cloud to see posts on such books.

NOTE: I excluded The United Kingdom since I read way too many books from there! Yes, that means no England, no Scotland, no Wales. Sorry.

I also excluded books on the Holocaust because that wouldn’t be appropriate (to me at least) even though they occurred in Poland or Germany, etc. Ditto the Soviet Gulag.

This list includes both fiction and nonfiction.

Two From Venice

Both the City-State and the modern Italian city



The Gondola Maker, set in the 16th century is a story–as the title implies–of a young man entering the trade of making gonolas. There is some disturbing content in here meant to shock–child rape. I put up with that only because it, sadly, was in tune with the time period of the book.

By the Grand Canal was just my type book. You can read my full review here.

Two From Trinidad




A House For Mr. Biswas is now regarded as a classic. Trying to end the domination of his wife’s family on his life, Mr. Biswas struggles manfully for independence–including the acquistion of a separate home. I read this in ’89 in the Peace Corps–it was one of those books every Peace Corps Volunteer seemed to read and not only because the selection of books in the pre-Internet, pre-Kindle days was so sparce in Malawi.

The White Woman on a Green Bicycle tells the story of a diplomats wife living in Trinidad and dealing with daily life as the islands go thru the rumblings of independence. A great take on expatriate life.

A Peace Corps Classic from Togo

village of waiting



George Packer’s memoir of his time in Togo with the U.S. Peace Corps is a soft-of classic in that genre. He tells the real story. Though now about 35 years old, it is still very relevant. Village of Waiting.







What happens AFTER the revolution? How does a child see the world? What happens when the dream comes true and the child moves to the States?  We Need New Names by Violet Bulawayo.





One From Malawi



There was Malawi before Madonna found it. This novel, set in the last days of dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda, is real life Malawi at the time I lived there. Sugarcane With Salt by James Ng’ombe.





One other that is “sort of” set in Malawi…..



A fictionalized Madonna in a fictionalized Malawi. Ok! Yes. It does include London life. BUT, I’ve chosen it purely for the parts in the fictionalized Malawi. There. Happy? Swing Time by Zadie Smith. You can read my full review here.





Provence, France




Peter Mayle may have invented the expatriate goes aborad to stay memoir. I’m not sure. Whatever. This one is pure joy. A Year in Provence.




One From Iceland



Names For The Sea is a memoir of a season of life spent as an expatriate faculty member at an Icelandic University. You can read my full review here.






Would you like to join in the fun of Top Ten Tuesday? Here’s a link to the rules. And, you can read all of this week’s posts here on the blog Artsy Reader Girl.




Review: Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale


2017/18 is the centenary of the Russian Revolution–the first one, that toppled the Tzar and usered in Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the Civil War and all that we eventually came to know as the Soviet Union. As a Russian and EasT European Studies major way back in the days of the Cold War, the SALT Talks and way, way before the fall of the Wall or Perestroika, I am reveling in all the new takes on the events that started it all. Trainjokes were a staple of Soviet humor, too, but that’s for another day.

Lenin’s famed trip across war-time Germany in a sealed train ultimately results in the famous Finland Station Speech. We knew that. This book doesn’t add as much as is promised, but it is an interesting read–especially if you are new to the whole topic.

Was Lenin a spy, and opportunist, a true revolutionary? This is the most intriguing part of the book, but she doesn’t really answer this to my liking. He was a crook is one well-founded opinion. Like many revolutionaries claimoning to represent the prolitariate, he was himself pretty darned bourgeoisie except in his romantic life. [That’s a gross simplification of all aspects of Lenin–just fyi].

As for the fabled train journey itself–pretty ho-hum as you’d expect. Not enough food,  bad toilets, rowdy fellow travelers [pun] who drunkenly sang the Internationale/the Marseillaise thru the whole damned trip, tense boarder crossings. Lenin, without the aid of modern noise-canceling headphone or even decent ear buds, was forced to create rules for his companions that included quiet hours for sleep. Now, honestly, that doesn’t add much to what we know of him, does it? Not really.

The narrative goes back and forth between little snippets of life on the train (or getting to the train trip, etc.) and the disintitgration of Tzarist Russia and the revolution that was beginning–Lenin or no Lenin. There is a little on how Lenin ultimately betrayed everyone and a very brief mention–too brief for the year of the woman (but the author couldn’t have known this I suppose when the book went to press) of Lenin’s wife Nadezhda Krupskaya and fellow feminist-revolutinary Alexandra Kollantai.  Let Rasputin die, let the train roll into Finland station, then tell us abou those two–way more interesting, believe me.

But, as I said earlier, if you are brand new to this, or if like me, you just enjoy all things related to this time periond, then this is a good read. Not a dense scholarly one–a popular, layman’s one. Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale.

To learn more about Lenin’s philosophy I recommend this gem–it’s much more intelligrent than the cover makes out.


Lenin for Beginners


Top 5 Wednesday: Children’s Books to Read as an Adult


I’ve posted before about some of my own and my kids’ favorite children’s books. Today I’m posting on children’s books that adults should read. SHOULD. Now. As in “just do it”–you won’t be sorry.  I won’t explain why these books are on here, but they relate very well to our world today. Leave me a comment if you know the reason.


The Emperor’s New Clothes This version looks helpful. Maybe people will get it? Very timely.


Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type was such an instant classic I bought copies for each member of my family the year it came out. It and it’s two of its sequels–Giggle, Giggle, Quack and Duck For President all belong on this list.

butter battle

Dr. Seuss, on the outs right now due to a new story dredging up his early work in anti-Japanese propaganda in war and some images in his earliest books–none of which sell many copies today. In spite of producing what today we clearly see is racist, and offensive images–rich up there with a book about a boy called Sam-bo and words against a group of people [we were at war back then] Seuss got many, many other things right. This book is one of them. The Butter Battle Book. People today may be shocked to learn he was a liberal.


I’m counting these as one book. No, I’m not advocating a return to white gloves. Nor hats for women. That’s not the point here. While these are out of print (there is a more modern version of Stand Up….] both are widely available used. It should be obvious why these are on the list.


If I Ran the Circus, yes another by  Dr. Seuss. Because if wishes were horses, right, Dr. Seuss?