On 22 August 1485, Richard III was killed at Bosworth Field, the last king of England to die in battle. His victorious opponent, Henry Tudor (the future Henry VII), went on to found one of our most famous ruling dynasties. Richard's body was displayed in undignified fashion for two days in nearby Leicester and then hurriedly buried in the church of the Greyfriars. Fifty years later, at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, the king's grave was lost - its contents believed to be emptied into the river Soar - and Richard III's reputation buried under a mound of Tudor propaganda. Its culmination was Shakespeare's compelling portrayal of a deformed and murderous villain, written over a hundred years after Richard's death. Now - in an incredible find - Richard III's remains have been uncovered beneath a car park in Leicester. The King's Grave traces this remarkable journey. In alternate chapters, Philippa Langley, whose years of research and belief that she would find Richard in this exact spot inspired the project, reveals the inside story of the search for the king's grave, and historian Michael Jones tells of Richard's fifteenth-century life and death. The result is a compelling portrayal of one of our greatest archaeological discoveries, allowing a complete re-evaluation of our most controversial monarch - one that discards the distortions of later Tudor histories and puts the man firmly back into the context of his times.
©2013 Philippa Langley and Michael Jones (P)2013 Tantor
"A solid, perceptive work that rights historical injustices." (Publishers Weekly)
I was really excited to read this book as I thought the archeological one-in-a-million find was fascinating. Sadly, it's written by the one non-historian AND non-scientist on the project. Langley is a screenwriter (as she constantly tells us) and her love for creating melodrama is rampant.
The book moves back an forth between the archeological dig and a blindingly pro-Richardian history of the life of Richard III. She peppers her firsthand account of the dig with her intuitions and a rather creepy obsession with protecting the "dignity" of a king who has been dead for 500+ years and whose dirty bones are unlikely to excite a perverse or prurient interest in anyone (except maybe the author herself). You get the impression she'd rather take the bones home, dress them up, and have tea with them. The historical portions of the book are cringeworthy to a lover of truly objective history. She strives to make the data fit her beloved Richard, while suggesting that the whole world loved Richard until Henry VII managed to turn all popular sentiment and historical record against him. She's incapable of acknowledging that he usurped his nephew's throne and was in turn defeated in combat by another usurper.
The book is worth reading for the accounts of the search and archeology, at least until another member of the team - either true scientist or true historian - writes a less self-involved and more scholarly account.
author of Lowcountry Legend's series
For any anglophile who watched this mystery unfold on TV, this behind the scenes bit of the discovery will be fascinating. I certainly didn't imagine that there were such zany factors involved in finding Richard. This was a delight to listen to for many reasons. The insertion of the history is helpful too, but I still think he killed the princes in the tower!
This is an odd work. The author is carried by her zeal for the project, but the 'book' would have been better shaped into an article with a good editor.
The idea that our popular beliefs about Richard III have been shaped by Shakespeare's iconic tragedy (and thus by his benefactors the Tudors) is worthy of exploration and commentary. However, this author, while clearly passionate (a bit weirdly so) doesn't seem to have the academic or journalistic discipline necessary for the undertaking. It is all about her excitement for the project, and is a disorganized mess.
Her discussion of the archeological dig is mind numbing. No detail to small. (Where is her editor??) The IDEA for the book has merit, but as it is, it is tedious and redundant. There are long portions where it feels she is simply reading her daily planner. It would be wonderful to see this material in the work of a gifted and disciplined writer.
Love to listen!
The in depth history of how the search for Richard's bones came into being. The author spent a considerable amount of time making sure that the dig really happened.
The historical tie in to the dig and what brought Richard to Bosworth Field.
A wonderful book to bring forth conversation about the life and times of the last Plantegant warrior king of England.
The forensic investigation of Richard's battle wounds.
Polite and professional. She is a fast narrator though. Sometimes her telling of history was rapid fire
Discovering the Real Richard the III
The book is average. I'm a big history fan so I enjoyed learning about the intricacies of the history. I also enjoyed the analysis of Richard's body. But, I was expecting something else out of this book.
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