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Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London [Hardcover]

Nigel Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 18.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Oct 2011

Castle, royal palace, prison, torture chamber, execution site, zoo, mint, treasure house, armoury, record office, observatory and the most visited tourist attraction in the country, the Tower of London has been all these things and more. No building in Britain has been more intimately involved in our island's story than this mighty, brooding stronghold in the very heart of the capital, a place which has stood at the epicentre of dramatic, bloody and frequently cruel events for almost a thousand years.

Now historian Nigel Jones sets this dramatic story firmly in the context of national - and international - events. In a monumental history drawn from primary sources he pictures the Tower in its many changing moods and a bewildering array of functions. Here, for the first time, is a thematic portrayal of the Tower of London as more than an ancient structure.

The fortress is a living symbol of the nation itself in all its kaleidoscopic colour and rich diversity. Incorporating a dazzling panoply of political and social detail, Tower puts one of Britain's most important buildings firmly at the heart of our national story.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; 1st Edition edition (13 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091936659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091936655
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"In writing about the Tower's glory days, Nigel Jones has produced a wonderfully rollicking history of England itself. Told with relish, it should be a godsend to any history teacher who needs to hold the attention of his pupils" (Daily Mail)

"A breezy account of the Tower's past is full of surprises . . . Nigel Jones knows how to tell a tale with just enough detail to make the story work in any period since the 11th century . . . thrilling history" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Much as I love books on Britain's past, it is a long time since I found one which enthralled me as much as the 400 pages of this volume. Jones tells the colourful story in an equally lively fashion, and the two sections of black and white plates, from the Bayeux Tapestry to the Krays, are well chosen. An epic history - and an epic read indeed" (Bookbag)

"In the hands of Nigel Jones we have an excellent contemporary guide, providing the right mix of scholarship and storytelling, insight and narrative pace, to offer a cracking history of the Tower." (Sunday Express)

"Jones weaves yarns from the Tower's past into the familiar tapestry of English history. His prose is dashing" (Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

A compelling narrative history of the Tower of London from William the Conqueror to the present day

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
In a sense the author has written Our Island Story through the prism of the Tower of London. Constructed shortly after the Battle of Hastings the Tower has been, throughout its lifetime, a fortress, menagerie, Royal Mint, an observatory and tourist attraction. There are a number of set pieces, such as the Peasant's Revolt and killing of the Princes in the Tower, that the author writes about with economy and flair. Similarly there are colourful and engaging cameos in the Tower's history, from the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and the Duke of Wellington.
Nigel Jones' excellent book sheds light upon both the majesty and bloody deeds of the Tower itself - and British History.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sort it out, please 10 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an irritating book, in that it should be much better than it is. Nigel Jones is a good writer who has assembled many interesting facts, and who can create deft pen-portraits of many individuals. I think he relies too much on Tudor accounts of the Richard III affair - (would he regard Arthur Scargill as an impeccable and unbiased source on Margaret Thatcher, I wonder?) - and some of the conclusions he draws may be wrong (Pepys may not have been currying favour by escorting his superior's wife to the Tower - they were after all cousins) but are at least arguable.

Unfortunately there are far too many errors in this book as currently presented; for example, Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, not 1838, the date at one point switches from 1674 to 1664, 1513 should obviously be 1613 (in the Overbury section) and the King in 1436 was Henry VI, not Henry V. Perhaps worst of all, the book shows a complete lack of understanding of the peerage. Duke and Earl are not synonymous, neither are Duchess and Countess. Characters change their name and rank frequently; for example, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, suddenly becomes Earl of Suffolk, his daughter Catherine becomes Katherine before reverting to Catherine, and Margaret Plantagenet Pole, niece of Edward IV and Richard III, is twice called Duchess of Salisbury and twice called by her real title, Countess of Salisbury.

These errors cannot but detract from this book; if you know some things you're being told are wrong, how can you believe others? I'd urge Nigel Jones to correct this book before the paperback edition and make it as good as it deserves to be.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a towering success 5 Nov 2012
By KAW
Format:Hardcover
This is an entertaining romp through some of the more colourful episodes in the Tower's history. As other reviewers have said it relies heavily on secondary sources and can be very one sided. This is especially evident in the section on the Overbury case where Frances Howard is portrayed as a monster, a very different point of view is possible and was broadcast recently on BBC's Who do you think you are? in which actress Celia Imrie found out that Frances Howard was a distant relative and another side of the story of this very young woman was told.
Sometimes the author assumes that the reader knows facts that haven't yet been mentioned in the book, for example p53 "For all his devotion to his wife Elanor, Edward 1 was a vicious and relentless enemy." He has not told us about Edward's marriage or the crosses he had built to mark his wife's death, so for some readers this remark would make no sense. There are also small mistakes for instance Anne of Bohemia's funeral took place at Westminister nor Windsor as stated; Hainalt is at one point located in France and later the modern Netherlands.
So this is ok as an amuzing and rather biased look at the Tower's past, but if you are looking for facts, check them out from other sources.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Window upon British History... 18 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
Whether telling the grand narrative of the Wars of the Roses, or recounting short episodes such as the Kray's imprisonment - and escape - from the Tower, this book is always enthralling. The author has a sense of judgement and humour - and readers young and old should mine something interesting and entertaining from its pages. Similar to Simon Sebag Montefiore having used Jerusalem to tell the story of the Middle East, Nigel Jones has used the Tower as a window upon the past two thousand years of British History.
There is much in this book that I found new - and I am an avid reader of history books - but at the same time the Tower is accessible and as good a place as any to learn about the period and saga of the monarchy which runs through it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not researched in depth 14 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found most historical events were very sensational - like a dossier sexed up for weapons of mass destruction! The bias against Richard 111 is incredibly over the top - Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet had nothing on him! More bias than Thomas Moore (who incidentally never completed his writings on Richard - other historians speculate that he had realized his mistake of blaming Richard for the Princes murder in the Tower(if they were murdered at all).

Henry V111 had many more innocents executed, burned and murdered and was the biggest royal serial killer of them all.He incredibly had Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury (14 August 1473 - 27 May 1541)George Duke of Clarence daughter executed at the age of 68 alongside her young grandson when they were of no threat to this tyrant who was the worst monarch who ever sat on the English thrown.Henry V11 claim to the thrown was very tenuous through his grandmother being the widow of Henry V.But like David Starkey and Alison Weir Nigel Jones seems to be a BIG Tudor fan! The point that Richard was a "the first spin doctor is incredible" Even the Roman Caesars were spin doctors!The Tudors were all disastrous monarchs.Henry v11 was a skinflint.Edward v1 burned Catholics and "Bloody Mary" burned protestants.Elizabeth 1 was like her grandfather and so let her victorious sailors who were shipwrecked starve to death after they had won the Armada battle - so she would not have to pay their wages. To be truthful the English channel weather won the battle really.

I am going to give my copy of this book to a charity shop.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This is very easy to read and so interesting, I'd recommend it to anyone with even a slight interest in history.
Published 4 months ago by Michelle G
1.0 out of 5 stars A complete waste of time....
This is the first book I have ever returned to Amazon for a refund. It was either that or chuck it out of the window. Read more
Published 6 months ago by EileenB
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good read.
The story of The Tower of London told in a clear and interesting style.Would be of interest to students of history of the Monarchy
Published 8 months ago by J. Bateman
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read
A well written, historical account of life in the tower. Would recommend highly to anyone with an interest in British History.
Published 10 months ago by mr nigel m patterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Tower
I really enjoyed reading this book as I just could not put the book down. As it showed how life was and that the punishment fitted the crime.
Published 11 months ago by ange
1.0 out of 5 stars Popcorn history from a journalist
What a let down. I had great hopes for this book, such a good hook but it's popcorn history at best, written without any questioning of the 'facts' he details as facts when they... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Thomas York
5.0 out of 5 stars Tower of London.
What an excellent read.A very informative book with lots of facts and details on passed history,it's uses and it's occupants both voluntary and otherwise. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Aviator
5.0 out of 5 stars At last a good read
Having bought many, many books on history over the last thirty years it depresses me to find that most authors who choose to write about a subject as amazing as our country's... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Toby
5.0 out of 5 stars tower review
This is a remarkable book extremely well researched and pleasure to read.
Absolutely recommended as a must read.
Mike Bell
Published 15 months ago by mike the bike
5.0 out of 5 stars Tower
Just excellent ... Documented ...unbiased and with a modern human touch that contrast sharpily with previous mentalities...( or may be not ...)
Published 20 months ago by Jose M. Ingunza Olabarriet
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