Book Review: The King Whisperers by Kerwin Swint

Some stories are so terrible, so fantastic, so unreal that you just know they had to have happened.

Take Aggripina the Younger, the devoted mother would stop at nothing to secure her son’s emperorship or Rome—incest, murder, cunning, whatever it took. Or Kautilya, the BC-era warlord who knew his most powerful weapon was a beautiful woman and a lovesick enemy. How about the monster Heinrich Himmler whose desire to build a race-based society of supermen led to the twentieth century’s most horrifying event, the Holocaust?

These figures were all wise, ambitious, determined. They knew what they wanted and, in most cases, they knew how to get it. Power was their motivation.

These are not the great villains of history; they are not the mighty rulers of nations. They are the King Whisperers, a special breed of politician that thrives behind-the-scenes. They are the power behind the throne, not that which is seated upon it.

Too often their stories have been discussed as they relate to those of the rulers they served; some have been overlooked almost entirely. The King Whisperers: Power behind the throne from Rasputin to Rove by Dr. Kerwin Swint introduces the reader to 47 figures ranging from biblical times to the modern day.

They are sorted into ten archetypal groups: Machiavellians, Empire Builders, Kingmakers, Spies, Silver-Tongued Devils, Generals, Rebels, the Truly Evil, Fixers, and Schemers. Each category is defined for the reader before delving into its explanations of the four to seven highlighted individuals.

The King Whisperers offers an in-depth look at these great manipulators, sometimes exploring multiple figures that shaped a single era or movement, sometimes juxtaposing enemies and highlighting their similar strategies. Swint explores his content in such a manner that it caters to both the historical expert and the ignoramus. He draws intriguing parallels across archetypal groups and poses questions which the reader may choose to ignore or to contemplate at length (this is especially true of the chapter on “the truly evil” King Whisperers).

The author’s careful attention to detail and fluid writing style make this book an intriguing and informative read. Its well-paced discussion and organized structure allows for the reader to pick it up at will or to read it straight-through in a single sitting.

The King Whisperers by Kerwin Swint tells the stories of some of the greatest power players and schemers in world history, from the ancient world to modern day.

Although they ruled from the shadows, history has not forgotten.

Mrs. Storm

Writing everything from Sweet Romance to Children's Books to Nonfiction, Melissa loves books, birds, and bonbons--in that order. She has an advanced degree that she never uses.