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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Scholarly
Whilst this may not dwell to a macabre degree on incest, schizophrenia and murder, it is an impressive portrait of a king whose life bestrode the 16th Century. If you want a work of highly controversial speculation, look elsewhere. If you want to find out more about a troubled and private king, and his relationship with the rest of Europe, then read it. Although Kamen...
Published on 8 Oct. 2005

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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Its a bit dull really
Kamen goes on too much about the mechanics of things that occur and too little about what this shows us about the type of person Phillip was. It serves well as a detailed account of Phillip's military actions but doesn't provide much of an original insight into his life and into how his reign shaped the future of Spain. IT was a bit dull and not very engaging.
Published on 21 Nov. 2001


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Scholarly, 8 Oct. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Paperback)
Whilst this may not dwell to a macabre degree on incest, schizophrenia and murder, it is an impressive portrait of a king whose life bestrode the 16th Century. If you want a work of highly controversial speculation, look elsewhere. If you want to find out more about a troubled and private king, and his relationship with the rest of Europe, then read it. Although Kamen tends towards defending Philip on most occasions, this is not without careful thought on the part of the author, and he uses his impressive research to exonerate Philip from some of the more notorious charges levelled against him (murdering his wife and son, for example). A little over-positive in places, perhaps, but a thoroughly worthwhile and readable addition to the huge bibliography available about the most powerful and controversial man of his age.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A timely new approach, 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Paperback)
In my History A Level course of many years ago Philip II of Spain did not enjoy a good press. From the perspective of the very angloc-centric view of history that was served to us, he was presented as the opportunistic husband of 'Bloody Mary' and the obvious the villain of the Armada, from whom we were rescued by 'Good Queen Bess'. Beyond Britain the arrival and efficient use of the printing press in the Protestant Northern Europe of his time, ensured that his reputation fared no better elsewhere, including ironically even in Spain itself. What makes history so interesting is that time moves on and with it comes an ability to take a longer view. Henry Kamen needs little introduction as on of the great scholars of Spanish History. Kamen along with some other anglophone historians are especially respected in Spain, particularly because the complexities the history of the Peninsular are still unravelling post Franco. This has lead some Spanish opinion to conclude that an objective view of that history is best made by outsiders.

Kamen's study is not a whitewash, taking careful time to present a rounded view of his subject. The rigid scheming Catholic villain recedes to allow a more human picture to emerge from painstaking research he has taken. What emerges is the picture of a man who by the standards of his age was deeply committed to performing his duties as king without compromising a deep devotion to the Catholic faith that underlay all he did.

Of course not everyone will want to agree with Kamen's 'revisionist' approach, but for me it was a real joy to see a rethink of this enigmatic monarch thoroughly researched and properly argued.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly readable book! Philip II's travels through Europe ..., 13 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Philip of Spain (Paperback)
An incredibly readable book! Philip II's travels through Europe as prince-regent (yo el rey principe, he signed himself after his elevation as King of Naples on the eve of his marriage to Mary I of England). Philip the ladies' man. Philip the king, of course. Also interesting on Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England. It has been claimed by another biographer that this book is a hagiography; this is definitely not true. It does show though that Philip was human, and a rather average person.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A trap of his own making, 22 May 2013
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This review is from: Philip of Spain (Paperback)
This certainly is a weighty and worthy tome. As the writer himself asserts, a thoroughly researched and new biography is long overdue of this somewhat dark and evasive historical figure.
In many respects, Philip II is the stuff of easy legends to be created around his self-confessed aloofness and distant character. (He refused to allow any biography to be written, certainly in his lifetime.) There is no doubt that he was cold and harsh as a monarch, but perhaps that was bred into him by the enormous role he and Spain played in one of the most formative times in European history.
Henry Kamen's book is well-written and very readable, however, the author falls into his own trap when, as he writes in the preface that he did not want to write a political biography but one that exposes the 'thoughts, motives and preferences of the man...'. Unfortunately Kamen does get rather bogged down in the politics of Spain in relation to Flanders and other political situations.
Overall, this is a scholarly and highly readable book that makes Philip an accessible man to learn about and help the reader to gain an insight into his reputation for being a harsh, seemingly cruel monarch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 2 April 2012
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This review is from: Philip of Spain (Hardcover)
This book was FANTASTIC for my Uni work, really really helpfull - good for both scanreading and in-depth reading. The book was in fantastic condition, as if new and arrived very quickly. Overall a really good buy, great book and great seller.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Its a bit dull really, 21 Nov. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Paperback)
Kamen goes on too much about the mechanics of things that occur and too little about what this shows us about the type of person Phillip was. It serves well as a detailed account of Phillip's military actions but doesn't provide much of an original insight into his life and into how his reign shaped the future of Spain. IT was a bit dull and not very engaging.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and Intelligent review of the age, 4 Dec. 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Hardcover)
Kamen touches on all aspects of Philips life with great intuity. He exposes a man that was emotionally scarred more than once in his life, a man that worked incessently for the good of his country and of his religion. As well as being a pious and hard working man he was also a lover of fun, a side rarely seen in a personage of such stature. This book is a wonderful read and cannot fail to leave the reader wondering about Philip II of Spain, a monarch that until now has been over shadowed by his father Emperor Charles. On top of this Kamwen examines many of the aspects that affected the political events of the age.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Philip Whitewash, 9 Nov. 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Hardcover)
All that work, and out comes an apologia. No word, really, how the Habsburgs got to take over Spain. About the incredible inbreeding, including Philip's marriage to his niece, Anna of Ausrria, that needed papal dispensation. No indication that Don Carlos was a true schizophrenic, an inheritance from the daughter of Fedinand and Isabella and passed on in the Habsburg family for a few more centuries. The inquisition was a necessity, and the destruction of the armada an act of God? No matter how hard the author tries, Philip still comes across as a hesitant, pencilpushing pedant who was none too bright. Mr. Kamen should have studied Ludwig Pfandl's 1938 book; it descibes Philip correctly and encompassing from all sides. Illustrations: After talking time and time again about Philip's portrait by Titian - why does he not include it? As a historical study, this book is not adequate.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written without imagination or flair, 1 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Hardcover)
As a once-historian of Latin American Colonial History I had hoped for an insightful adition to my library, but instead I found a badly written book, without any imagination or effort to make the material interesting: just a chronological list of events!
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written without imagination or flair, 1 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Philip of Spain (Hardcover)
As a once-historian of Latin American Colonial History I had hoped for an insightful adition to my library, but instead I found a badly written book, without any imagination or effort to make the material interesting: just a chronological list of events!
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Philip of Spain
Philip of Spain by Henry Kamen (Paperback - 2 Sept. 1998)
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