Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
After having read a half dozen books on Lady Jane Grey's extremely short reign as Queen of England, it's refreshing to finally come across one where her place in history is kept in its proper perspective. And the bios of her two much more interesting sisters is an added bonus. The narrator's voice is perfect for this kind of book, moving the story along at just the right pace. Almost nothing has been written on Jane's sister Kathryn and what little on Mary made more of her disability than the remarkable woman herself. The author provides a well-researched historical account of three tragic lives which is both informative and entertaining.
As an unabashed lover of British royalty, I've read over 100 books on monarchs from William The Conqueror to Edward VIII (the family gets boring after that). For me, the Tudors have always been embodied by a twitchy but regal Bette Davis as Elizabeth I and the fat-boy Holbein painting of Henry VIII. But this book gives all 6 Tudors their due, in one of the most indepth accounts ever. The media has sold us on largely fictional and/or subjective views of Tudor monarchs, Henry and Elizabeth, while basically ignoring Henry VII, and Mary I, Jane Grey, and Edward VI. However, this author sets the record straight. He tells each monarch's life from beginning to end, rather than as merely side characters to the longer reigning Tudors. He also provides the reader with backstories into the people and living conditions of that era, showing the period to be awash with poverty, ignorance, and oppression. Henry and Elizabeth, who are 2 of the most remembered monarchs were certainly not the greatest. And their cruelty, greed, vanity, and selfishness was overwhelming. "Off with their heads" was more than a mere expression for them. This book is enlightening, educational and entertaining. The author pulls no punches yet still allows the reader to judge for him/herself as to the short but turbulent reign of the Tudors. At 24.5 hours in length, it's hard to believe that any more could be written about this dynasty - this has got to be the best researched book EVER on the subject. I'd like to see the author write a "prequel" about the Plantagenets who gave England 14 kings over a span of more than 300 years vs. the Tudor reign of only 118 (83 years combined between Henry VIII and Elizabeth I). This is the only book that I've bought here which is worth 2 credits.
If I'd read this book before seeing the movie starring Keira Knightley, the film would have been a serious disappointment, being the usual Hollywood fluff, merely a excuse for sumptuous costumes and sets. This book shows us that Princess Diana came by her neuroses legitimately. Her ancestor, Lady Georgiana Spencer, suffered from eating disorders, a gambling addiction, substance abuse, and many other psychological afflictions. She was totally out of control financially, having no respect for money. Although she gained political success in England, it was due more from her need for attention than any real feelings for social change. The film makes it out like her husband was some kind of monster who forced into extramarital affairs and out-of-wedlock children but the Duke was more patient with her than a lot of men. (Prince Charles put up with Diana's nonsense about a long as he could before he realized that his wife would not make a stable Queen Consort). Like Princess Diana, Lady Georgiana set the tone for fashion among her peers and subjects and was generally loved by the people. But both women were neurotic, irresponsible, and immature. If not for her untimely death, Diana would have self-destructed if she'd continued on like her ancestor. This is a great book, well-research and insightful. Georgiana's life was NOT the stuff of Hollywood. As with the former Princess of Wales, it was a tragic and tortured life.
Quite a good intro. Heavy on some topics, rather light on others, but overall very enjoyable. Except for the last chapter, where all the philosophizing on the meaning of civilization left me cold.
Other than that, and up to that point, it does the job very well.