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4.4 out of 5 stars19
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on 17 May 2010
We all know that there were two Henrys, but Suzannah Lipscombe angles her debut at precisely the question when did Henry change? She argues 1536 and writes informally; a style I find very rare and welcoming in popular historical non-fiction, yet informatively. Despite being repetitive and laboursome in parts, and giving a rather naive critique of Anne Boleyn's fall, I look forward to her next book.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 January 2012
Over the years I have read and re-read an awful lot of books on the Tudors, the Reformation, Anne Boleyn and HenryVIII's other wives, life in Tudor times, other Tudor biographies and histories. This book is unique in that it takes one single year in Henry VIII's life and focuses on this as a pivotal year in the king's life, for many reasons, and with many consequences.

I do not really agree with the author's view that the single year of 1536 changed Henry VIII from the benevolent and learned young ruler to the bitter and brutal tyrant. It seems to me that while 1536 may account for many events that contributed to the furthering of Henry's political harshness, the seeds had been sown years earlier. By 1536, Wolsey had been toppled from power and humiliated (and would most likely have died a traitor's death if he had not died en route to the Tower), Katherine of Aragon had been discarded and harshly treated as if her marriage to Henry had not existed, their daughter Mary had been declared illegitimate, and Fisher and More had already been executed for refusing to renounce the Pope. Henry's understandable drive to secure the succession of the Tudor dynasty coloured many of his actions, and it would seem that as he aged, he came to resent and to lash out against any and all who thwarted him and his aims, or who attempted to make him see the world as it actually was, not as he would like it to be. Henry did not deal well with encroaching age and human frailties, and these made him dangerous.

Don't get me wrong; this is a very good book. It does not have all the answers, but it does an extremely good job (in a book of under 300 pages) of summarising the growth of the `cult' of Henry VIII and how it turned sour as he aged, and in the reputation he has left to history. It covers well Henry's drive to secure his dynasty in the form of male heirs, his accommodation of religious reformation that impacted on the whole of Europe in the sixteenth century, and how Henry has come to be remembered as the king with all the wives, who bloodily removed all who stood in his way. It's a shame that this is how Henry is so broadly remembered, for he is the sum of so much more of his parts. This book is well worth reading to get a broad understanding of Henry VIII and his desire to secure the Tudor legacy.
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on 29 July 2009
This was a fantastic exploration of the mind and motivations of Henry VIII. It made a serious attempt to get under his skin and give a detailed psychological profile of him in 1536, pieced together from original sources, letters and correspondence.

It's the first detailed account I've read that attempts to really link the events: rather than saying 'this happened, then that happened', she says 'this happened, which was a result of that, and led to...'

I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially her exploration of the perception of masculinity in Henry's day, and why his 1536 fall and Anne Boleyn's 'adultery' had such a deep impact on him in light of this.

The book is scholarly and well-sourced, but also extremely readable. I feel that the review by 'Alison Weir' (if that is the historian, and not just someone using her name) is a little unfair, but that's just my opinion.

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone looking to get a real insight into Henry in his own context, rather than just a description of events that happened around him.
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on 18 March 2014
How did someone thought of as a pretty fair king for many years turn into cruel King Henry? This book provides a lot of answers as to events as well as Henry's underlying personality traits that may have been dormant for many years. A fascinating look into a bygone era and court that is still pretty terrifying even through the safe telescope of history.
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on 13 September 2013
1536 is the fantastic debut of dr. Suzannah Lipscomb. She totally changed my view of Henry VIII. Her book is just amazing and very addictive. I took it with me on my trip to France to read in my room in mornings or evenings. But after I started to read it the first morning I had to finish reading it. So I spent the first day of my hollyday reading 1536.

I was affraid I would have difficulties reading 1536 because English isn't my native language but I had no difficulties reading it. It was written in an informal style so IT reads easily.

Dr. Lipscomb had done a great job writting it and I can't wait to read her next book.

I recommend it to everyone and not just tot history lovers like me!
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on 22 November 2015
This book was great for me, so I gave it five stars - BUT - unless you are au fait with this era, you may find it heavy going. Having read many books on this period and Henry in particular, I thought it was a good book, but you may find it a little complex if you are not aware of the many characters and difficult times that existed in 1536.
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on 18 March 2012
I learned so much about Henry VIII from this book and look forward to anything this author produces. It really explains why Henry changed, so much happened to him in that one year, most of them what we call stress inducing occurrences nowadays, so it goes a long way to explain why he was so tyrannical afterwards.
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on 19 May 2016
Love the Tudors and Suzannah Lipscomb - neither can do any wrong as far as I am concerned!
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on 15 June 2013
The book is well written and highly readable. It describes why the popular and apparently light-hearted young Henry VIII became obseessed with the succession and constantly fearful of treason.
It provides a valuable insight into the history oif the early Tudor period and will be useful to students of history aged from sixteen to seventy.
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on 5 February 2015
Purchased for my daughter's 6th Form project. She seems very happy with it. My wife and I (& daughter by osmosis) are history fans and we are aware that Lipscomb is a noted expert on Henry the 8th.
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