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Perkin Hardcover – Illustrated, 3 Apr 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; illustrated edition edition (3 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224069705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224069700
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 397,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Extraordinary... Perkin is a masterclass in how biography can breathe life into the darkest and most inert pockets of the past" (Guardian)

"An unforgettable book... The best book I have ever reviewed in these pages" (Mail on Sunday)

"Gripping... With Perkin, Wroe has breathed new life into an obscure figure" (Daily Mail)

"A book that captures the temper of an age" (Financial Times)

"Rewards every moment of attention" (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

An extraordinary work of history by the author of Pilate.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Probably the best historical biography I've ever read, bar none, and the fact that it's about a figure as shadowy and mysterious as Perkin Warbeck/Richard, Duke of York only makes it more impressive. The book really brings the medieval world to life through Wroe's wonderful writing - she doesn't just write about what people did, what they ate, what they wore, but how they would have thought and felt. She never comes down to a side as to whether 'Perkin' really was the son of Edward IV or a boatman from Tournai, which in my opinion makes this a better book, because it is impossible to know. Any historian who claims otherwise is deluded. Was Perkin really one of the Princes in the Tower? We'll never know, but I like to think that maybe he was.
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Format: Paperback
Ann Wroe has written a fabulous book, bringing to life the personalities and politics of the Middle Ages, and given the relative lack of primary sources at her disposal, has done well to flesh out this story to the extent that she has. As mentioned in other reviews here, she is to be congratulated on her extensive use of contemporary European sources which show a very different view of the Pretender to the usual English sources.

Engish sources were sure of the Warbeck story from as early as 1493, but Europeans were far less sure, and Wroe shows European monarchs such as Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian and Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella referring to Richard as the Duke or even as the King of England until a late date - and in Maximillian's case, until the end of his life. Whilst various European rulers certainly had political reasons for supporting a pretender, and may have known that this one was an imposter, their correspondence gives no clue of such knowledge; at times there was doubt and uncertainty as to whether he was Richard of York but they also had doubts that he was Perkin Warbeck. And in the case of Maximillian, Wroe shows him attempting to intevene to save Richard's life long after any political advantage could possibly have been gained from it - not something the Holy Roman Emperor would generally do for boatmen's sons from Tournai.
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By A Customer on 8 Aug. 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you think you know the story of Perkin Warbeck read this book. If you don't know Perkin's story, read this book. Dr Wroe's prose floats beautifully, and her knowldge astounds. Source material from all over Europe is given, much of it never previously related by Anglo-centric English historians, and the true European dimension of the question of the death of the Plantagenet dynasty is brought to the fore. At the centre of it is this poor, deluded boy, a pawn in many people's games, who probably did not know by the end of it whether he was the son of the king of England or a boatman from Flanders. All he knew was that he had to pretend to be the person his supporters wanted him to be, the person whom his enemies would kill. That we should come to sympathise with a man who is constantly dismissed by historians as a political fake is a triumph. Historians should heed the fact that a character can emerge from the shadows of professional disparagement, and stand proud in what is, simply, a fantastic story.
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Format: Paperback
While the Stuart 'pretenders' later in history - especially Bonnie Prince Charlie - are studied by many, the Plantagenet pretenders, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck are consigned as names in history.
Ann Wroe's book should go a long way to changing that - although sometimes her themes of appearance and image in early Tudor times drag slightly, and her attitude to whether Perkin is Richard, Duke of York, wavers a little during the book, this is still a fascinating account.
It takes a little while to get going, and while broadly following chronological order is simple and straightforward, it means you have a while to wait before much actually happens. But the attitudes of the monarchs of Europe, Perkin/Richard's marriage and his relations with Henry VII are fascinating.
A little shorter, and a little more focused, plus a bit more decisiveness on Wroe's part as to who she believes the 'White Rose', as he was called, to be, and this book could be perfect.
Still, a wonderful book for anyone interested in the period
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Format: Paperback
In terms of an academic piece of historical research this work cannot be faulted. The thing that left me somewhat disappointed after reading 473 pages was that I was none the wiser as to whether young Perkin was real or fake. It was a bit like reading a Sherlock Holmes novel and finishing the final chapter without understanding who the perpetrator of the crime was.
This does not detract from a very well researched book with lots of reference to original sources. Ann Wroe really gets into the mind of Henry Tudor and we see how he operates; paranoia about the threat that Perkin poses, yes, but also how cautious and canny he is about his ensnarement and downfall. It's amazing to think how much trouble a commoner caused a king.
My main purpose in buying the book was to understand the role that Sir Robert Clifford played in this plot and in that, the author goes into great detail. The only observation I would make is that she falls into the trap of many historians, and misunderstands why he was prepared to be implicated and then reconciled. The answer is quite simple, Cliiford wanted to wreak revenge on his family's sworn enemy, Sir William Stanley, and he brings about his downfall in a dramatic and masterful fashion.
In my opinion, for what it is worth, I think Perkin was the son of a Flemish boatman and not the long-lost Richard, Duke of York. But whoever he was, he certainly caused many a sleepless night for the newly crowned Tudor monarch, and Ann Wroe conveys that with aplomb.
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