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Richard and John: Kings at War [Paperback]

Frank McLynn
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £15.06
Price: £14.83 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Sep 2008
Legend and lore surround the history of kings Richard and John, from the ballads of Robin Hood and the novels of Sir Walter Scott to Hollywood movies. Frank McLynn has returned to the original sources to discover what Richard and John, the warring sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, were really like, and how their history measures up to the old legends. With narrative panache and anecdotal detail (The Independent), McLynn explores the truth behind the early folklore tradition, confirming that Richard was everything youd hoped for, and his brother John was the toad youd always suspected. This is history at its best-a story well-told, thoroughly researched, unexpectedly revealing, and a rattling good read (Spectator).


Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc (2 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306817381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306817380
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 921,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Choice"
"A ripping good yarn of galloping prose...Recommended." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Frank McLynn is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including "Napoleon," "1066," "Villa and Zapata," and "Wagons West." He lives in England.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By JH
Format:Hardcover
This is a good example of how history should be presented. While it still has its flaws, the overall effect is amazing. The author holds your interest with a storyteller's talent. I quickly finished this book despite the 400+ pages. History is better than fiction when you are telling the story of Henry and Eleanor and their children (the devil's brood). This should be the next HBO series (like Band of Brothers and Pacific). It would definitely make another generation fall in love with medieval history.

McLynn spends much of the beginning of the book laying the framework for the world that Richard and John were brought up in. He imparts the story of the creation of the Angevin Empire by Richard and John's father Henry II Plantagenet. Much time is devoted to an examination of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and how their actions and character molded their young sons into the adults they would grow up to be. You also have great insight when you look at Richard and John's siblings and see how they also developed in the same atmosphere. Kings at War truly is the tale of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and all their sons. We get to see all of the family strife between Henry II and his sons and wife.

But, special attention is given to Richard and John as they are the focus of the history. McLynn provides frequent characterizations by Richard and John's contemporaries and stories about their good and bad deeds. McLynn provides background on some these major sources and what biases they may have held. McLynn does a good job of presenting both sides of the story. McLynn certainly has an opinion on what he believes the truth to be and he openly presents that, but he does not hide the opposing view.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By D. C. Stolk TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Forget about the image of noble king Richard and villainous king John as you know them from the many Hollywood movies (Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" or Disney's "Robin Hood" to name just a few) that showcase "good" king Richard and "bad" king John.
This "Richard & John: Kings At War" shows us what Richard and John were really like, as far as is possible because they lived some eighth centuries ago and we look at them with twenty-first Century eyes and base our perceptions on the records of that distant age that have survived until now.
Anyway, "Richard & John" is an excellent but very dense history of the famous kings Richard "the Lionheart" and John "Lackland", both sons of Henry II, one of the Plantagenet kings who ruled during the tumultuous 12th Century: the time of the Third Crusade, Saladin, the era of Robin Hood...
In popular perception, Richard I is seen as one of the greatest kings of England, most of al because of being one of the central Christian commanders during the Third Crusade and fighting against his equally famous Muslim opponent Saladin.
In reality, Richard spent very little time in England, spoke little English and spend most of his time across the Channel in Aquitaine and Normandy, fighting and laying siege from a very young age. He was to become famous because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. At only 16, Richard was commanding his own army, putting down rebellions against his father.
In popular perception, John "Lackland" is seen as one of most disastrous kings in English history, the corrupt and wicked king who tried to usurp his brother's throne when he was away on Crusade and taxed the British people until they rebelled (giving rise to the Robin Hood legend).
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5.0 out of 5 stars bril 8 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am enjoying this book. It is well thought out and written with amusing style. just what I needed - highly recomended
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brothers at war 16 Sep 2008
Format:Hardcover
I admire "Richard and John: Kings at War". But one suspects that a rush to meet its release date hurried the editing, creating a faustian bargain for this book.

"Richard and John: Kings at War" is encyclopedic. I have read this period widely, but still found a new treasure-trove of facts. And back-stairs whispers. Her contemporary chroniclers gave Eleanor of Aquitaine a bad press. Now, Frank McLynn's diligent research shows the rest of this weird family faring no better. He lets us into secrets, confiding foibles of perhaps the most dysfunctional imperial family since First Century Rome.

Readers will recognize sibling rivalry between brothers of unequal aptitute. To this, add faction-fights between parents playing favorites to influence their sons, while also fighting France, the Church and each other. Fans of the Asian board game "Go" -- objective: seize and control territory -- will understand the Angevins intuitively! Richard is the brother (or classmate) we envied: he captains the teams, gets the girls and is deemed most likely to win. John grits his teeth, struggles and slips into poor moral and practical judgments.

Those who strive to read "Richard and John: Kings at War" from end to end may struggle, too. It's that editing challenge I mentioned.

I dissent from McLynn's description of Eleanor of Aquitaine; and from Alison Weir's opinion, which he quotes, that Eleanor's likeness is unknown. The British set-designer Claude Marks had a deep knowledge of medieval Poitou and Aquitaine. Moving to New York, Marks lectured at the Metropolitan Museum, whose medieval busts of Henry and Eleanor he considered plausible likenesses. In "
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