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Jeremy Paxman comes to America

22nd October 2007

In one sense, BBC news anchor Jeremy Paxman is coming to America. In another, he's already here. Paxman — revered and feared in the U.K. as a singularly tough interviewer is to begin appearing on BBC America later this fall, where he's expected to host a weekly roundup of world news.

As an author, however, Paxman has been on American shelves 1982, when his first book, "A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare," was published.

Paxman's eighth book, "On Royalty: A Very Polite Inquiry Into Some Strangely Related Families," is an informative whirlwind tour of European royalty that also brims with wonderful deadpan humor.

While the anchor litters his text with examples from history and offers glimpses into the lives of other surviving European monarchs — the section in which the author recounts a visit to Leka, the erstwhile Crown Prince of Albania and a stubborn pretender to the throne, is particularly hilarious — "On Royalty" focuses on the 20th and 21st century British royal family.

While Britons may feel all-too-familiar with the Windsors, Americans may be surprised to learn facts such as the following: Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Phillip, was born into poverty and is considered a walking faux-pas; the queen has played an important role in keeping the British Commonwealth together; Prince Charles talks to trees; and, most astonishingly, that a compelling argument can be made for keeping a monarchy atop a democracy.


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