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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor King Richard................
I like Alison Weir's books, and indeed own most of them, and I find her a very readable and, usually, credible historian. However, in this case I am certainly not convinced of King Richard's guilt and find that the evidence for it relies far too heavily on vague "quotations", hearsay, and worst of all on the word of Sir Thomas More. Although he was a very worthy man, he...
Published on 27 Mar 2003 by brynnin

versus
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder, Lies and Red Roses!
Alison Weir is perhaps best known for her Tudor history titles and I will not hesitate to recommend these to you, but unfortunately her pro-Tudor/Lancastrian bias is all too evident in this look at Richard III and the 'Princes in the Tower'. She informs the reader that she will be taking an objective look at the facts, but it's pretty clear that from the outset she has...
Published on 6 Oct 2004 by Mrs. D. J. Smith


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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder, Lies and Red Roses!, 6 Oct 2004
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Alison Weir is perhaps best known for her Tudor history titles and I will not hesitate to recommend these to you, but unfortunately her pro-Tudor/Lancastrian bias is all too evident in this look at Richard III and the 'Princes in the Tower'. She informs the reader that she will be taking an objective look at the facts, but it's pretty clear that from the outset she has already pronounced her verdict!
To give Weir credit, it's a well written book and if you are interested in this subject you might like to read it, but if you do, PLEASE make sure you read some other theories too - and then make up your own mind from the available evidence.
She presents her 'theory' with such conviction of it's being the truth, that's it's easy for the uninitiated reader to take her word as gospel. Her theory is, however, precariously balanced - a house of cards built on a foundation of assumptions. She takes Sir Thomas More pretty much as gospel, because he has 'the ring of authenticity', despite the fact that he was a child when Richard was piteously slain, and few historians take him without a large pinch of salt and where he can be substantiated from other sources. Of course, when More's writings do not fit Weir's theory, he must be mistaken, of course....
The analysis of the skeletons found in the Tower is interesting, but her reliance on the textile 'evidence' for these being the Princes is weak. There is one report on the discovery of bones which mentions pieces of 'rag and velvet'. This was from an eye witness, not a textile expert, and the fabric has not been seen since, so it's hardly concrete proof that they are even of the period we are looking at!
If you're looking for some further reading and want a bit more balance, Paul Murray Kendall is perhaps still the best overall biography of Richard, but weak on the case of the princes and not a light tome for the beginner! Bertram Field's 'Royal Blood' is an excellent analysis of the case - you may be interested to see Weir's arguments picked apart! Also Geofrey Richardson's The Hollow Crowns and The Deceivers are well worth reading and give some new ideas. Tey's The Daughter of Time is excellent fiction as is Reay Tannerhill's The Seventh Son, but these are not meant as serious history.
Perhaps we'll never know the truth, but there's plenty here to mull over. I enjoy reading this if only for the fun of being able to pick my own holes in Weir's theories....
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 9 Mar 2013
By 
SusanS "SusanS" (Wakefield, West Yorks) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
I have read other Alison Weir books and usually enjoy them; they are written in an interesting, almost chatty way and I feel the author really brings the figures to life.

I am not a Ricardian, nor do I think Richard III was the devil incarnate, and I was hoping for an impartial, factual read- (the likes of which A J Pollard or Charles Ross would produce)- by an author I previously enjoyed.

This book is not Ms Weir's best.

I feel she decided that Richard III is guilty as Hell and has absolutely no redeeming features whatsover- and she starts from there.
I wanted to read an intelligent book about Richard III and the princes in the tower- not someone's opinion/foregone conclusion which they labour to "prove" throughout the book.

Personally, I do think Richard III did probably kill the princes in the tower and I don't hold with the opinion that he was an innocent saint.
However, other writers manage to get this point across without going down the tired old route of Richard as the classic pantomine villain who, after a hard day's plotting, planning, biting on his lip and usurping, sits down to a "celebratory dinner". Quite possibly complete with an evil cackle and rubbing his hands together in glee.

I also found some of the "evidence" used by Alison Weir a bit dubious. The textile evidence- proof that the skeletons in the tower are the princes, is pure heresay. I found it every bit as melodramatic as some of the more fervent Ricardians, trying to convince us Richard was absolutely fautless.

I think the book is worth a read, as it covers the basics. This has probably put me off buying more of Alison Weir's books, as I am now of the opinion she is unobjective and possibly inaccurate. I feel she does painstakingly research her sources, but the way that is then applied is possibly one sided.

A much better book is "Richard III and the Princes in the Tower", by Prof A J Pollard- he also seems to be of the opinion Richard "did it", but at least tries not to present him as a one dimensional character.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a very biased telling of the tale, 3 Feb 2005
By A Customer
This was the first book I read on the subject of the princes and I picked Alison Weir's book because I had read her retelling of the Wars of the Roses and found it to be very clear and ejoyable. Indeed I found this book to be the same. However when I started to read around the subject I realised just how impartial she was not. She clearly loathed Richard III from the start. She had her theory ie as guilty as hell and she was going to interpret every single fact in that light.
She sees the devil in every single one of Richard's acts. Most critics allow Richard to be a good ruler even if they find him guilty of the murder of his nephews. Not miss Weir. I do not wish to discourage anyone from reading this book but please do not let her be the only author you read on this subject. Bertram Fields provides a good analysis of this book and would be an excellent choice for reading straight after.
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A colander of a book! So full of holes & bias., 15 Nov 2009
By 
Max Holt (North Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
If you want a non-biased, impartial, factual read with primary sources to back up the facts on the 'Wars of the Roses & deaths of the Princes in the Tower' - then this is NOT for you.
After a few minutes reading I had to get my pen out & start striking through assumptions, quotes that the author claimed to be contemporary which were in fact reports/stories that were written many years after the events took place (which is quite clear if you check her appendix!), gossip & tittle-tattle quoted as fact, & most glaringly of all, the authors complete bias against Richard III. She is even quoting, in her own words, 'an untrustworthy source' (ref Molinet, page 149) - if the source is untrustworthy then why is a historian even using it?!
Irritatingly she states the emotions of the source of her gossip and the main players too! Which is fine for a historical fiction but not for a 'fact based history book'.
Uses text such as 'ALMOST CERTAINLY...this happened'P123 & P148 'More was PROBABLY nearer the truth when he conjectured...'!
There is also a number of inconsistencies in her version of events.
EG that the author of the Croyland Chronicle is ANONYMOUS (p4) yet goes on to assume who this person was & (p126) that he WAS on the Council!
& On P141 she says that 'Rivers had been deputy constable but that appointment had LAPSED when he was arrested.' But earlier that 'Rivers had GIVEN the appointment to Dorset!'
This is not a good book! & I'm surprised that the cover includes quotes such as 'Absorbing' Sunday Times, lucidly written - oh also Sunday Times(!) - NOT!
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Ms Weir's usual standard, 25 May 2009
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
I really like Alison Weir's non-fiction - especially the way she tends to focus on important yet neglected women in history (e.g. Kathryn Swynford, Eleanor of Aquitaine). Unfortunately, this book disappoints in that although her research is as painstaking as ever, her attempt to present almost a legal case for the guilt of Richard III in relation to the death of the princes falls down on several counts. I found myself disagreeing out loud with some of her statements and assumptions which, in some cases, were quite erroneous constructions on the words or acts of the protagonists. For an experienced historian, Ms Weir has unfortunately fallen into the trap of allowing her own beliefs to overpower the narrative, and she does not allow for any other possible scenarios/explanations. This lack of balance, exacerbated by her obvious dislike of Richard, taints what should have been an interesting and well-written book. My greatest discomfort however is with the conclusions she comes to regarding the skeletons found in the Tower in 1674 - all I will say to this is 'chain of evidence'.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 29 Mar 2013
By 
M. Newton "misty15" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
I have read a lot of Weir's work and usually enjoy it. I have a keen interest in history, particularly, the Plantagenet and the Tudors reigns. I read many different accounts on what happened to The Princes in the Tower and noticed one thing:

Ever since Shakespeare's play, 95% of people have assumed Richard III to be guilty.

At that time it was to be expected, he lived in Tudor times after all and if you were going to promote Richard's innocence you'd probably be burned or decapitated. We've just stuck with the theory over the years (even though he wasn't a hunchback like the play says we assume that too)

Josephine Tey's "The Daughter of Time" opened us up to the possibility that he didn't do it. While Tey's novel is not in the same league as historical books, it does provide a different opinion that you can research yourself.

Weir sees Richard as guilty from the start and doesn't bother to bring any evidence to support otherwise. Could you imagine that happening in a courtroom today?
"Judge, we have some evidence to support Mr X's innocence"
"No thanks I've decided they're guilty based on this evidence. I don't want to hear otherwise."
(I apologize. I don't pretend to know how court works having never been in one or really watched any shows about it, but you get what I mean)

I wanted to give the book 2 stars because I do love Alison Weir's work usually but I just couldn't do it.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lacking in objectivity, 12 Oct 2009
By 
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
Alison Weir's book purports to give a true, unbiased account of the events leading up to and following the accession of Richard 111 to the throne of England. She quotes many sources, most of which she avers are 'contemporary' to the events in question. On further examination one discovers that these 'contemporary' accounts are all dated from after the death of Richard 111, indeed during the reign of Henry V11 to whose distinct advantage it was to besmirch and traduce the reputation of the man to whose throne he succeeded.
I found Ms Weir's obvious bias against Richard 111 annoying to say the least. She managed to twist the 'contemporary' evidence to such a degree on occasions that it appeared to be facing in entirely the opposite direction from its original meaning by the time she'd finished with it. She used conjecture, gossip and spiteful tittle tattle as many of her sources and interpreted the rest to fit the conclusion with which she had obviously clouded her historian's neutrality.
Her knowledge of human psychology seems to be quite limited if she can write that Elizabeth Wydville, the mother of the two princes allegedly killed by Richard 111, would openly sanction a proposed marriage between her daughter and the murderer of her two sons in order that she could gain wealth and influence once more. 'Pragmatic' is how Ms Weir describes Elizabeth Wydville!
I was disappointed by the definite bias that prevailed throughout the book. I would have prefered genuine arguement for and against both sides. This was lacking. It was a foreone conclusion that Richard 111 was a child murderer who got his just deserts. I would make this book required reading at universities on how not to write about history.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars far from unbiased, 2 Jan 2004
By A Customer
I was very disappointed with this book as I normally enjoy Ms. Weir's books. I have always had an open mind about the Princes in the Tower, however the author's blatant juggling with the facts to fit her theory left a bad taste in my mouth. She starts from the assumption that Richard the third was guilty and proceeds to assess every action of his in that light, despite claiming in the preface to have begun with as open a mind as possible. She accepts Sir Thomas More's account as gospel, despite the fact that it was at best hearsay, and his source of information was King Richards bitterest enemy - hardly an unbiased account! She also conveniently ignores evidence that doesn't fit.If you are interested in this subject there are many better books on the subject.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh no Ms Weir!!, 11 Nov 2008
By 
A. N. Tighe - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
Alison Weir's barely concealed antipathy towards Richard III ruins this book. I felt that I had no choice other to agree with Ms Weir that Richard III was a crouch backed monster who was definitely the one who murdered the boys, and had no right to be presented with the facts and free to make up my own mind. I barely finished it. I wanted to read history, not venom spitting.
Big no no from me.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An absolute cow of a book, 9 Mar 2013
This review is from: Richard III and The Princes In The Tower (Paperback)
From the minute I started reading, it was clear that Weir was judge, jury and executioner and when the facts didn't fit her view, she simply slanted them. In other situations, her thinking is flawed or she simply declines to provide an argument or a justification to back up her conclusions. Documents are often quoted out of context or she quotes part of a sentence that will prove her point and ignores the rest that contradicts it. This is a one-sided and very biased book and not the considered and careful review of historical fact I was hoping for.
If you want an unbiased, objective and factually accurate assessment of the subject then try Bertram Field's Royal Blood instead and view this book as another work of fiction in Ms Weir's catalogue. Disappointing!
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Richard III and The Princes In The Tower
Richard III and The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir (Paperback - 5 Jun 2008)
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