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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 18 July 2014
This well written book brings together many things that have previously remained obscure about the brother of Anne Boleyn - and I particularly liked the illustrations of his signature, letter and cypher. His handwriting was bold and beautiful, with the tell tale sweep of an artistic nature. I agree with the authors that his portraits were almost certainly destroyed - it seems to me highly unlikely that the brother of the Queen, and an important courtier and diplomat in his own right, would not have been at least sketched by the likes of Holbein, and it is probable that his poetry met with the same fate..
Another reviewer has criticised the authors for a biased picture of George Boleyn, and feels that their picture of Henry VIII 'bluff king Hal, beloved of his subjects,' is a testament to their loathing of the man - but I must disagree. The Henry Tudor who destroyed the woman he had once been obsessed by, together with men - George Boleyn and Henry Norris - who had been his closest companions - was a cruel and ruthless tyrant, not the merry Hal of his distant youth. Of course, this is too simplistic a view, and we, in the 21st century, cannot ever hope to think with the mindset of a 16th century man or woman. But this was a ground-breaking book, bringing into our orbit the scant information about a charismatic and fascinating personality, that has until now remained buried in a variety of obscure places. After reading it, I can say that George Boleyn is a man I would like to have known.
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on 7 January 2016
This is a very interesting book based on fact rather than fiction. It's topic one of the little written about, main players in Henry's reign. I knew little of him and his part before reading this book. I know him better now. A good read that I would recommend.
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on 4 October 2014
Not many books about George Boleyn, and his character is usually portrayed as a rich courtier with very little intelligence. This apparently is not true. He was an intelligent and dedicated man and a talented poet, albeit a foil for his better known sister!
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on 7 June 2014
I admire the effort that has been made to sweep into this book every possible piece of the scant information there is about George Boleyn but for me it seemed very biased and with a lot of assumptions in his favour and in favour of his infamous/famous sister. It is easy to judge those times from the perspective of our own and be appalled at what happened to the victims of state execution but I did feel that Henry VIII's character was almost like a caricature - the author clearly loathes him and favours Anne Boleyn whereas I have always felt that for a man of his intellect and energy and position he put up with quite a lot with Anne before his patience broke. Also none of the nicer side of his nature is shown at all - his warmth and kindness which made him Bluff King Hal and beloved by many of his subjects. So I felt there was an imbalance in the book which slanted too favourably and eagerly in favour of Anne and George Boleyn. I know for some people the life and death of this unfortunate queen are almost an obsession and the author has made every effort to list sources and so on which is excellent. Well done for a difficult subject but for me there were many conclusions I did not really agree about.
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on 11 August 2014
Plenty of dates and places but not much story to it I did not enjoy the reading of the book.
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on 6 September 2014
This is an excellent study of the life of George Boleyn, intricately researched and well written. Highly recommended for those with an interest in this period of Tudor history or who simply want to know more about the Boleyns and their fate.
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on 6 August 2014
Passion and scholarly probing saturate this book; the authors' excitement and fascination with their subject is underpinned by years of research into the compelling story of his life and the awful trajectory of his demise. Having made a career by inviting people to experience her ongoing research and education into the Tudor court with her, Claire Ridgway uses the same tactic in this book. There's a touch of Antal Szerb here, the great Hungarian-Jewish historian, who began his 1942 study on the court of Marie-Antoinette by informing the reader that "if he absolutely insists that a writer should address him in the scholarly manner, from on high, in ex cathedra tones, then he should simply toss this book on the floor. My way is to speak as one human being to another, looking to fine kindred spirits and good company." Ridgway and Cherry adopt this tactic in George Boleyn and it's very successful. If a reader finds a conversational tone grating or jarring, then this book mightn't be for them, but for many it's likely to prove a refreshing and enjoyable change.

The lack of any surviving portraits of Boleyn or much in the way of letters and, crucially given the book's subtitle, his poetry, makes it difficult to flesh him out in too much detail, but both writers work with what has remained to paint a relatively convincing portrait of a headstrong but pious courtier with a passion for living and a solid mind. If George doesn't quite pop out as being as much fun as some might imagine him, it's a relief to see why he was nothing like the horror imagined in later fictional adaptations like Bring Up the Bodies or The Other Boleyn Girl. By shifting through all the available information and crucially being able to admit where Boleyn was guilty of hard-heartedness and even outright cruelty, Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway are able to present a biography that is sympathetic without being hagiographic.

There are a few flies in the ointment, but they're quibbles. The authors' treatment of their subject was so interesting that I would greedily have loved to see a bit more of how George has been re-imagined in culture after his death. We have seen a pious George, George the buffoon, gay George, bisexual George, kind George, saintly George, George the rapist and an incestuous George. His afterlife is fascinating and it would have been nice to see a little bit more of that, but that's a personal preference and in a biography that seeks to liberate George Boleyn from the shackles of cultural history, perhaps a facetious and contradictory one. At the very end of the book, one is left with the feeling of a book that was focused deliberately and distinctly on the historical George Boleyn, in which a further chapter on the imagined George would probably have jarred. Hopefully, it will service as an online article from both authors, which would be a treat to read.

All things considered, "George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier & Diplomat" is a gem of a book. Thoughtful, erudite, charming, passionate and clever, it helps set George Boleyn centre-stage and to paint a fascinating portrait of an aristocratic career that ultimately sailed too close to the Sun and paid a tragically unfair price for it.
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on 9 May 2014
I really enjoyed reading this book (sent to me indraft by Claire) I like the way she portrayed Jane Boleyn (lady Rochford) I always thought she was made out to ebe worse than she actually was. An enjoyable book about one of my favourite Tudor characters George Boleyn. I would highly recommend it.
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on 10 March 2016
Just who was George Boleyn? Was he the womanizing deviant portrayed in the Showtime series The Tudors or was he the timid fop prone to tantrums portrayed in the Other Boleyn Girl? For years, it seems like those were the only two versions ever considered for this ambitions, charming and highly accomplished courtier often overshadowed by the tragic life of his sister, Anne Boleyn. In this exciting new biography, authors Claire Ridgway and Clare Cherry, take the preconceived notions pop culture has perpetuated of this enigmatic man and turn them upside down. Ridgway and Cherry stick to the facts in this engaging and thorough biography on a man who's true character has remained elusive over the centuries. I was impressed with the way the author's debunked the claims of George's debauchery without making him a completely innocent victim. The style of writing is professional, yet informal so it's easy to understand the ramifications of George's actions in the grand scheme of the court without having intricate knowledge of Tudor society. I highly recommend this book for the amateur or the advanced historian!
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on 3 August 2014
Intriguing and interesting insight into George Boleyn who was obviously a very talented, diligent, and ambitious young man. Talented way ahead of his years but unfortunately caught up in the web of religious politics at the time, which led to his early and awful death.
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