©1998 Peter Ackroyd; (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks
"When one finishes the book, one has the sense that not only does Ackroyd know all the available facts about More and his milieu, he knows More himself....[A] masterly new biography. It must be a candidate for book of the year." (The Observer)
No, but it came close
I loved the latin and the links between the past, his life and where we are today. I really am seeing how we got from there to here.
There were several instances that were poignant and moving. When his head was cut of and boiled, had me in tears. I was also moved by the death of his first wife, his imprisonment and his service to the poor.
I could listen to this book again and again and learn something every time!
The subject matter is fascinating, so the author was already off to a good start.
His integrity in his presentation of More as a regular human being, with many faults, makes those remarkable moments of More's life all the more salient.
In the book (not considering the lack-luster narration), the ending of More's life is pithily written. In its brevity and conciseness, it creates makes indelible More's final words to the condemning priest, "[God] could not refuse one who is so blithe to look at Him."
Davidson's narration is, as I mentioned in the title, only passable.
He reads everything in such a dry manner that sometimes I have to wonder if he's paying attention to the words that are coming across the page in his hand. He also misinterprets sentences from time to time.
His reading of the climactic moment—when after having received judgement and before receiving sentence, Sir T. More declares his convictions about the King's title and ulterior motives—is so abysmal that I nearly want to pay the publisher to re-record it.
I'd recommend first watching the movie, "A Man for All Seasons," which is also about Sir Thomas More, before reading this book. The movie will help you appreciate the impact of More's life, and his stellar faithfulness to his inner beliefs.
After that, this book is a fun supplemental read.
It would be hard to overestimate the level of fascination Thomas More continues to generate. I found him at times completely medieval in outlook and at other times thoroughly modern. His particular faith was the least compelling thing about him from my point of view, though the interaction of his beliefs with those of Henry VIII set the stage for More's greatest hour: his silence in the face of lengthy persecution, and his pungent revelation of his views in the moments after his conviction. More's life and mind are worth our time.
This book about the life of St. Thomas Moore is an absolutely phenomenal bit of scholarship. Exhaustively researched, incorporating source documents at every turn, commentating upon other interpretations of these documents. Interpretation is somewhat flawed by its steadfastly unsupernatural interpretation of More's life. The recording is a bit lackluster. Very slow and monotonous so I listened to it at 1.25 speed and it actually came over pretty well.
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