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on 15 July 2014
This is an essential absolutely must have addition to your book-list on Tudor history and it is just a dream to read. Dr Starkey makes history pleasurable! It's got everything you need to know to create a working model of Henry VIII's court in your head. It's that good!
Do get a copy and enjoy! You will.
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on 11 July 2009
I enjoy the author's TV programs about the lives of the English Kings and Queens. I thought I would give his books a try as there would be more information in them than can be put onto a short program. I was right. There is much information about the King from birth to death and all written in the same manner you can hear him speaking as he does on TV. A little strange at first to read and hear his voice in your mind but then he is very listenable on TV, very easy to read his written word.
It seems to be well reasearched, logically presented yet with an ease to allow the ordinary man to read it and enjoy it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys his TV programs or who would like to read a history which is both fun to read and full of little facts to brighten the day. All the drama of his life is captured. It is hard to think how much his life has affected everything we do and believe in today and yet it is all there to see. David Starkey has also included a number of photos to enhance the book. I would recommend this to anyone with any interest in the subject and would recommend the author as I have read his much longer work on Elizabeth.
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on 19 November 2010
David Starkey manages to keep a complex story very clear in a readable and entertaining way. I would have liked a little more on Anne Boleyn as the most interesting of the 6 wives as well as a bit more colour on Henry's interactions with Charles V and Francois Ist of France.
What I liked is his analysis of how the court worked in factions and how the key element was to get the King's ear. Henry is often portrayed as cruel, which he was, but the book makes clear that those around him were not any better.
Overall an excellent introduction, because it is a short book, that explains very well the institutional circumstances of his reign.
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on 13 July 2009
This is definitely not the book for anyone who does not know the chronology of Henry VIII's reign, or for anyone just wanting the six wives story, or indeed much about the English Reformation. Nor is it much of a biography of the old monster himself.

Where it does score highly is in bringing out why faction was such a crucial element in the politics of the reign and how different people used different offices and positions within the court of a paranoid tyrant who was fundamentally a coward to advance personal and political agendas at different times. The ebb and flow is fascinating if gruelling to read.

Unlike another reviewer, the impression I took away is that Thomas Cromwell destroyed Anne Boleyn because he knew the King wanted rid of her and had to take charge of the process lest the noble/conservative faction used her downfall to carry him and his whole programme away with her. He was no more ruthless or bloodstained than anyone else in the carnage of the 1530s, just more skilled. Not that it saved him when his own time came.

Starkey, I think, might have done more to explain why, uniquely among all ages, the reign of Henry VIII was a time when to lose at politics almost always meant death.

During the reign, by my count, 23 courtiers or ministers were put to death for treason. Of these, only Bishop John Fisher (who called for Spain to invade England) was definitely guilty as charged and, by the standards of the day, Catherine Howard, her lovers and Lady Rochford who aided her might be added to the list. Why did five palpably innocent men have to die to be rid of Anne Boleyn? Even on the most cynical reading, surely one would have done. And what did living in this world do the psyche of courtiers? Now that would make an interesting book.
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on 27 December 2015
As pointed out in one of the other reviews, this should not be your first book about Henry VIII. It presupposes prior knowledge, and it centers on the politics going on around the King and especially his various wives. It is good and informative, and appears well researched although it lacks direct references on the numerous quotes. The last chapter about the King's last months and his will is a bit too detailed and it is a bit difficult to keep track on the numerous persons alluded to.
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on 17 February 2016
A truly gripping book that brings to life a vital period of our history. David Starkey is skilled and knowledgeable historian who has the ability to write in a manner never dull and often full of imagery that brings the Tudor Age to life.
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on 8 September 2015
A splendid informative review of its subject. Deceptively light footed, it is heavy on the basic detailed (and loving) research which informed it.
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on 17 October 2015
Bought for college so very happy with purchase
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on 3 April 2016
arriverd on time and description was accurate
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on 18 December 2014
personally....... i find Starkey a bit irritating at times......that said..... i buy his books because they are interesting
overall ..... this one on henry 8th is not a big book.....but i like it a lot
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