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The Wars Of The Roses: England's First Civil War Paperback – 5 Aug 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (5 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034911790X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117904
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 236,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Spirited . . . An elegant, even-handed and well-researched account of a fascinating period (Jonathan Wright, Tablet)

A fine, expansive drama (The Times)

This is a book that enacts its assumptions, suggesting what's at stake historically through sheer resonance and drive . . . this unabashedly narrative approach highlights how the on-off struggle threw England into turmoil in the reign of six successive kings (Scotsman)

Well-written and readable . . . readers will be both entertained and instructed (BBC History Magazine)

Book Description

* The first major single history of the Wars of the Roses for decades, written by renowned popular and military historian, Trevor Royle, out now in paperback

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Despite the title, this book is really a brief account of the fifteenth century English kings from Richard II to Richard III. Each king gets two or three chapters. The problem is that the first half of the book has little or nothing to do with the Wars of the Roses. While Henry IVs usurpation and the faction between the nobility during the minority of Henry VI may be relevant, I find it hard to justify a chapter on the Agincourt campaign or the troubles in Ireland during the reign of Richard II. When he does eventually get to the Wars of the Roses, the accounts of the battles are too brief. Even the major ones like Barnet & Towton only get a couple of pages each. There are no maps or diagrams.

This is a comfortable history for the general reader but adds nothing new for anyone reasonably familiar with the subject.

That said it is well written; it took me less than a week to finish. Included are extracts from contemporary chronicles though there are no actual notes with supporting references. The summary at the end, giving a description of not just the main players but more obscure ones as well, is useful.

What spoils the whole thing is the large number of fundamental errors. These are just a few that I spotted. A history student of the period would probably notice a lot more. Henry VI didn't inherit France on the death of his father, it was not until the death of Charles VI that he was able to under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes; the English didn't cede Maine & Anjou in the 1440s, they never occupied Anjou in the first place; Margaret Beaufort was the niece, not the sister of Edmund Duke of Somerset, if she had brothers she'd be of little importance. There are also geographical inaccuracies but these are less significant.

In summary this book is a good read but is marred by its lack of originality. The inaccuracies in this book have put me off reading his earlier work on the civil war.
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Format: Paperback
The perfect companion for all history enthusiasts is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKER Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Trevor Royle does a good job of making sense of this tangled web of family squabbles, constant intermarriages, murders, abductions, betrayals and intrigues. He gives us just enough detail to tell the whole story without getting bogged down in minutiae. This is not a gossipy or sensationalist history--the reader spends more time on the battlefield than in the boudoir--but it does provide a good portrait of the principal actors.

This includes some remarkable women, such as Margaret of Anjou who acted as monarch, field general and diplomat during her husband Henry VI's bouts of mental illness. Royle's treatment is balanced, looking at each king's strengths and weaknesses and avoiding moralistic judgment. Where men like Richard III have suffered from particularly bad reputations, Royle points out the biases of contemporary observers and early historians in an attempt to give these much-abused characters the benefit of the doubt.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book as having read other books by Trevor Royle I found his writing both enjoyable and detailed. However The War of the Roses fails to live up to the standard I would have expected from this author. Early in the book he refers to Eleanor of Aquitaine as the widow of King Louis VII of France, but she was not the widow, they had divorced a fact I have double checked to ensure my accuracy. Further more the author refers to King Richard II being forced to abdicate by Henry Bolingbroke but fails to make any reference to the reasons for their dispute. Alas the author when referring to the deaths of the princes in the tower automatically states that were killed by their uncle, King Richard III, despite the fact that this has not been conclusively proved. A final perhaps minor quibble, is that you get the feeling that the author has taken at face value, that which has been written by Shakespeare but that might just be me.
Over all not a bad book but perhaps you might want to have some background knowledge of your own
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Format: Paperback
This book doesn't have the best reviews that it would deserve, with one review I've read before actually reading the book even claiming that "the first 100 pages proved why reading history is boring." Actually, about the end of the second paragraph of the book, a comment how Richard II "has never recovered from that unhappy start" of him crowned while still a minor, this book had me hooked. If Trevor Royle was such a boring writer he would not use that phrase, I thought.
If you have read and enjoyed any of Ian Mortimer's books, especially The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation or 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory; or She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor you will definitely not find this book boring. I found Trevor Royle's style of writing similar to Mortimer's. In his views Royle is much more conservative than Mortimer, more closer to Castor's way of telling without the inclusion of his own ideas of how events are to be interpreted. Just like Mortimer, Royle takes time to briefly explain multiple possibilities for reasons and outcomes when needed, instead of his preference.

It has to be added that the book starts with two prologues, both entertaining as well as setting the ground of the grand topic that this book covers: one is about Medieval life and the other about Shakespeare's 'History': His plays.
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