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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 18 September 2011
This is a particularly interesting read, from the perspective that we get to know much more about Thomas More than we would from reading, say a history of Tudor times, or a history or Henry VIII. This is because it was not until More was in his thirties that he became a councillor of Henry VIII, despite having worked closely with the Tudor government and law enforcement agencies since becoming a lawyer, under-sheriff and diplomat. It felt like it was at this point in the book that Thomas More became somewhat of a different man. Perhaps the pressure of working so closely with the King made him more intransigent, or maybe the circumstances of his role now made his views so much more sharp and clearcut to the observer. Let's face it, no biography of Thomas More is ever really going to explain the mind that worked inside the man's head - he just was never the kind of person that is so easily or readily explained.

It is intriguing to read the life that More led before he became so closely involved with Henry VIII - admittedly much of it is surmised from the circumstances of life in the times, and the little that is known for sure about Thomas' upbringing and career path. But it is clear from the friendships that he had with such people as Erasmus, Linacre, Colet and others that his mind was sharp, he was a `thinker' for the new times; but at some level he never really let himself go from the `old' times - his reverence for duty, the Church, the Catholic religion and to do `what was right' held him bound tightly against the changing tide. And perhaps that's where his downfall was - the right man in the wrong time; the wrong man in the right time; wherever and whenever he was, it seems that he never quite `fitted'. Ultimately his sense of duty and correctness led to his fatal error in challenging the King's authority - More must have known the futility of doing that, given what happened to Wolsey and others, but he remained true to his convictions, even at the cost of his life.

While that may seem admirable (if to us now maybe a little foolish) More does not come across as a particularly likeable man - he used sarcasm in letter and conversation against people (although he saved others from looking foolish); he spent much of his early life arguing for the new `humanism' in study (but much of his later life condeming those who fought against the `system'); he worked for his King yet would not deny the primacy of the Pope. I'm not sure I could describe him as a `man for all seasons' - more a man of a mass of contradictions; someone you can never really get to know because they never really show their true self. Perhaps that was what led to his downfall; Henry VIII appointed More his Lord Chancellor even though More could never endorse the king's `great matter'. It seems that even the King could not read More to his full advantage.

This book is also valuable to an interested reader for analyses of some of More's writings - in particular Utopia and his responses to Luther's writings - More's works show eruditon, wit and a deep and interested mind, yet a scathing wit, brutal humour and a complete inability to see the other side of an argument with which he could not agree. A brilliant book; well worth reading to aid with a rounded view of Tudor life, and of More's life in particular. Ackroyd's descriptions of London life are also vivid and colourful; and add a touch of humanity to what could otherwise be a cold and scholarly/political life. Highly recommended.
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on 20 January 2013
The major selling point on this product, without a doubt, is the presence of More's Utopia. This work is the most famous of those in this product and within the genre itself, from which the other two titles obviously draw much inspiration. The reproduction of Utopia in the Oxford world's classics edition is faithful and engaging, though the maintenance of old English, though charming, is often more of a hindrance than it is conducive to the work. Overall, however, this is one of the best editions and is, in my experience, only surpassed by the Everyman's edition.
The following two works, New Atlantis and Isle of pines, are likely to be peripheral to most readers, except perhaps for the Bacon and Neville scholar. However, these both present writings which are very similar to More's and which are generally enriching. They ought not to be looked over, despite representing the smaller portion of the work, as they are equally well-written and more concise than More's account. For this reason, the whole product is an enjoyable example of descriptive prose and the social philosophy which underlies it is thought-provoking indeed.
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on 1 February 2015
A highly detailed history of Thomas More and the times in which he lived, but in a rather dry and dull style making the reading experience feel like 6th form homework! Too much Old English and Latin speech quoted which tends to bog down the story rather than illuminate it. The question remains, was More brave and a modern free thinker or just someone brained washed into meekly accepting there was only one true church?
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on 19 February 2017
Enjoyable and Mr A. writes so well. Keeps me informed and enthralled
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on 4 June 2017
Fascinating book.
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on 2 November 2012
I read this for a class and it was a very good read. If you make it to the second half it gets quite fascinating - although I decided I'd rather not live in "Utopia". (The first half is pretty dull and half the time I couldn't tell who was speaking.)
This version of the text is nice and clean, not a scholarly edition, I suppose, because of its lack of footnotes. I regretted the lack of footnotes eventually, but whilst reading it, their absence made the page less distracting.
It's a thin, light copy - good to carry around!
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on 9 August 2014
A classic -should be read by all thinking people who are interested in politics and/or history.. This is cheap edition - mediocre quality paper, but still represents good value for money.
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on 13 April 2016
Not very fluid, the text is constantly broken up by quotes which doesn't make for easy reading. Amateur historians will find it tedious and exasperating to read - probably one for more professional historians.
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on 11 June 2014
How can you go wrong with a Peter Ackroyd book? You can't! This book does not disappoint in any way.
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on 8 August 2016
good read
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