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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account of a brutal conflict
It's interesting that two books on Towton should be published close together. This is the first of the two that I read.

Time was (and not so many years ago) when the Wars of the Roses were perceived as a confused and confusing, rather pointless and boring dynastic struggle that was best ignored. Normal historical narrative resumed with the Tudors. Now that has...
Published on 7 April 2011 by Philip Lindsay

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big on preamble
The author's research on the politics of power was exemplary, however I did find the detail rather tortuous and at times irrelevant. The book was (I assume) intended to detail the events relating to the battle of Towton, so why was there only a single chapter assigned to this event?. I was less than impressed by David Starkey's introduction as his views are generally...
Published on 5 Jun 2011 by Historyboy


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account of a brutal conflict, 7 April 2011
It's interesting that two books on Towton should be published close together. This is the first of the two that I read.

Time was (and not so many years ago) when the Wars of the Roses were perceived as a confused and confusing, rather pointless and boring dynastic struggle that was best ignored. Normal historical narrative resumed with the Tudors. Now that has all changed. We have a myriad of studies of personalities and individual battles and issues. Towton, the largest and bloodiest battle in English history, naturally attracts a good deal of attention. It confirmed the young and shining Edward IV as king, avenged the death of Richard of york the previous year, and acts as something of a punctuation mark in the series of conflicts that make up the wider period of dynatic strife from 1455 (St Albans) and the 1490s (Perkin Warbeck).

In his account of the battle George Goodwin provides an eminently readable, well thought through, concise and convincing explanation of why the battle came to be fought, why those involved were there (and on the side they were) and what happened on the day. Towton is placed firmly in its historical context and the characters involved are well-depicted. What a shame we have no Holbein study of Edward IV (a largter than life figure if ever there was one); Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick or Margaret of Anjou. In their absence words have to do, and Goodwin does an excellent job. There are no heroes or villains here, but rounded peronalities portayed "in the round" and with a fine sense of political judgement.

There has been some interesting and (I believe) quite rare archaeolgical work done on the grave-pits related to the battle. These highlight the horrors of the rout and its aftermath in a grim but highly visual way - placing the emphasis firmly on the common soldier rather than the nobility. Goodwin ensures that this aspect is given full weight.

Whether you are fascinated by the Wars of Roses as I am, want to get involved in the period, or simply want background to Shakespeare's history plays, I would suggest Goodwin's book would be a good read. It certainly has a proud place on my shelves.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An up to date, fast paced read which is full of new perspectives and ideas., 11 April 2011
I am passionate about the Wars of the Roses and especially the Battle of Towton and this work really ignited the flames further. The book has a long pre- battle narrative which sets the scene perfectly and gives the reader a real insight into the many root causes of the encounter in which so many countrymen killed so many of their own countrymen. The study of the character and the nature of his kingship ( or lack of it )really sets this work apart and the ground breaking research on this monarchs mental illness produces some illuminating insights. George Goodwin has obviusly got really close to those currently working on the Battlefield and is able to write with authority about the most recent finds, the latest perspectives and the most recent work to protect and preserve this once forgotten battle. This is a real must read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not like school history!, 25 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
The Wars of the Roses is not a period that I'm particularly familiar with. I had vague recollections from school history that it was fought between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, but that was about all. I bought this book because I thought maybe it was about time I found out.

And I did! The book is not just about the battle of Towton, it is about the political and dynastic events that led up to what is the most bloody battle ever fought on English soil.

Moreover, the book is extremely well written and easy to follow, although you really do need to keep a marker in the genealogical section at the end of the book to help work out what is going on at times, as key figures keep swapping sides. That, though, is to do with the nature of the politics, not Mr Goodwin's explanation!

The book culminates in the battle of Towton, which is well explained not just as the outgrowth of the dynastic politics of preceding period, but also in terms of the battlefield technology of the available to the protagonists. I'm not qualified to pronounce on the disputes among historians that seem to bedevil discussion on this period, but I found George Goodwin's account and analysis clear and believable. Recommended.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on the definitive battle of the Wars of the Roses, 13 Mar 2011
By 
Mr. George P. Algar (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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The Battle of Towton holds a fascination for many authors and the books currently available, rate high in the Amazon worldwide rankings. So, why would you buy Fatal Colours when so much has been written about Towton before? Surely, every source document has been pored over, every contour of the landscape has been observed, every archaeological find has been analysed by experts to bring up clues as to why this battle was the bloodiest in our nation's history?

Well, in this book, George Goodwin does not attempt to outmuscle the iconic works of others, he takes a different slant, delving into his far-reaching and incisive knowledge of history. His approach is one of setting the scene to explain the peculiar circumstances that led to this catastrophic encounter on Palm Sunday in 1461 and he does it with great style and aplomb. I believe that the mark of a good writer is the ability to make the vastly complex appear simple and logical, and George achieves this in spades. For me, reading this book was like looking into a prism to view the multi-faceted machinations of the late medieval period. He analyses the cause and effect of poor Henry VI's schizophrenic behaviour, he portrays Warwick as the "spin doctor" for the House of York, he explains how this battle had pivoted into a North-South divide and he places the conflict at Towton in an international context. He also quotes evidence from the latest ground-breaking discoveries at Towton, so there are some surprises in store.

All of this is done in an extremely readable style and there are many quotable gems; my particular favourite being "The law is like a Welshman's hose; it is the right shape for each man's leg. So supporters twist it and its might is crushed under foot." George skilfully uses recorded excerpts like this to explain the dichotomy that the nation faced at the time. Did one support the anointed King and let misrule continue or did one follow the reforming zeal of the Yorkists?

George compares many "expert witness" statements to give the book a well-balanced feel. Thoroughly recommended.

George Peter Algar: Editor of the Towton Herald, Towton Battlefield Society's official magazine.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road To Towton - England's Most Brutal Battle, 16 Jan 2013
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This book is extremely well researched, but I would take issue with its sub title which, in my opinion, would be more reflective of the content if it read "Fatal Colours: The Road To Towton". That would better convey the subject matter which consists primarily (and understandably) in setting the scene - political, social, and military - which led to the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil, which took place but a few miles to the south of York, on Palm Sunday 1461, where, during a freezing, howling blizzard, thousands of men died gruesome, horrible, and savage deaths at the hands of their opponents.

The chapters outlining how and why the Wars of the Roses (a Victorian term) - contemporaries called the fighting the "Cousins' Wars - came about are very detailed. As an historian who has made a special study of this period, even I found additional snippets of information. Those chapters detailing the fighting at Towton - including covering how and why the rival forces met at that precise location - were very informative. Graphic in their content, they make all too clear the horrific nature of the injuries which could be inflicted on those individuals -whatever their rank - who, for whatever reason, had the singular misfortune to find themselves fighting on a a battlefield in fifteenth century England.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WELL I ENJOYED IT, 25 May 2013
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This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
I meant to review this book when I got it on my kindle 18 months ago-but I'm bone idle.So on with the review,I've studied the Wars of the Roses for the past 30 years-self taught, so I will never pretend to be a great expert on this period.I have read many historians from McFarlane to Hicks and have built up an extensive collection of books dealing with the Wars of the Roses.So why 5 stars for Mr Goodwin?Because he weaves a narrative that is both knowledgable and informative he talks to his readers,unlike some historians who can be as dry as dust.I note that some readers complain that the actual battle takes up less than 25% of the book.As Mr. Goodwin and many historians have pointed out Towton was a battle that was airbrushed from memory by the victors and losers,due to the sheer butchery involved.Edward iv certaintly did not want to come to his throne as the king who condoned the mass slaughter of his subjects.Up to Towton the cry had always been"Spare the commons",what occurred on that day was best forgotten.So like many historians for this period the author is reduced to looking for scraps of information regarding this bloody conflict.I for one enjoyed the narrative leading up to the battle and for those who found it heavy going,yes this is the nature of this period-confusion,mayhem,slaughter,retribution(this is the plot of soap operas).Nearly all of the battles over this 30 year period are badly documented,indeed the site of Bosworth field was a contentious issue until recently.I note that one reviewer states that the narrative is confused and meandering and states that Alison Weirs "more romantic account"is more readable.Every account of the battle which I have read seems to have missed this romantic entanglement,or perhaps it happened in the heat of battle-sorry flippant moment.Anyway back to reality,this is the book to buy for anyone interested in this confusing period,it is concise and very readable.I must say that I found the introduction by David Starkey,very interesting and informative,and would suggest that he leaves Henry viii alone and directs his formidable talents to this period,as I feel he would bring some fresh and controversial ideas to the feast.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Trail To Towton, 28 July 2011
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Hobo (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
An enjoyable book with an interesting insight to one of the bloodiest periods of our history.However if you are purchasing this book with the intention of reading purely about the Battle of Towton then you will be disappointed.Yes The battle is covered and very well, but it plays a small part, the majority of the book deals with the main players, the rivalry,jostling for power and the sheer bloody violence of the period.A schizophrenic king and the splitting of a nation and its path to Towton. There are some photographs etc and an account of the discovery of skeletons by builders in Towton.As an interesting and readable account of this civil war (perhaps Wars of the Roses is a misnomer) it is a good book.The author has his views, e.g Richards bloody hand in the death of the Prince's. Would I recommend the book,yes if you are interested in this period of history but no if you want a detailed account of the Battle of Towton.In hindsight, I would probably go for John Sadlers "Battle of Towton".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read - but content and title are a mismatch., 7 Aug 2013
By 
I. G. Wright (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book - a thorough, readable and intelligent account of the reign of Henry V1 and the underlying causes of the Wars of the Roses and the tangled web of personalities involved. It is however rather a mystery why this book has it's title. The Battle of Towton and the immediate events leading to it are dealt with in a few pages at the end of the book - there's probably as much if not more on First St Albans as Towton. No complaints at all - but the book's title and content are very different things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Account of an important battle, 20 April 2013
By 
Samuel Romilly (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is the first and only account of Towton I have read and so cannot access its accuracy. However it is fluently written, and seemingly well researched. Sadler's slightly older account may prove a rival but as I have not read it I cannot pass judgement. When I saw Sadler's is slighlty older it is by less than a month- February 2011. Extraordinary that such a neglected battle should get two books within weeeks of each other. What is it they say about buses?
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big on preamble, 5 Jun 2011
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The author's research on the politics of power was exemplary, however I did find the detail rather tortuous and at times irrelevant. The book was (I assume) intended to detail the events relating to the battle of Towton, so why was there only a single chapter assigned to this event?. I was less than impressed by David Starkey's introduction as his views are generally rather biased and as such his recommendation should be seen in this context.
Disappointingly we were again told that Richard of Gloucester (later III) 'did for' his nephews in the Tower and also (more outlandishly) that he also dispatched the crazed Henry VI. This is an accusation too far I feel and there is absolutely no substance to this. There is long and oft repeated argument that Richard was power-obsessed and physically contorted pariah who would stop at nothing to achieve his ambitions. To some degree this was certainly Tudor propaganda and should be seen as such especially by contemporary historians who should surely be more objective.

For anyone wishing to access an in-depth and objective account of Towton, I would direct the reader to Andrew Boardman's excellent book.
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Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle
Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle by George Goodwin (Paperback - 16 Feb 2012)
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