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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on the definitive battle of the Wars of the Roses, 13 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Fatal Colours: Towton, 1461 - England's Most Brutal Battle (Hardcover)
The Battle of Towton holds a fascination for many authors and the books currently available, rate high in the Amazon worldwide rankings. So, why would you buy Fatal Colours when so much has been written about Towton before? Surely, every source document has been pored over, every contour of the landscape has been observed, every archaeological find has been analysed by experts to bring up clues as to why this battle was the bloodiest in our nation's history?

Well, in this book, George Goodwin does not attempt to outmuscle the iconic works of others, he takes a different slant, delving into his far-reaching and incisive knowledge of history. His approach is one of setting the scene to explain the peculiar circumstances that led to this catastrophic encounter on Palm Sunday in 1461 and he does it with great style and aplomb. I believe that the mark of a good writer is the ability to make the vastly complex appear simple and logical, and George achieves this in spades. For me, reading this book was like looking into a prism to view the multi-faceted machinations of the late medieval period. He analyses the cause and effect of poor Henry VI's schizophrenic behaviour, he portrays Warwick as the "spin doctor" for the House of York, he explains how this battle had pivoted into a North-South divide and he places the conflict at Towton in an international context. He also quotes evidence from the latest ground-breaking discoveries at Towton, so there are some surprises in store.

All of this is done in an extremely readable style and there are many quotable gems; my particular favourite being "The law is like a Welshman's hose; it is the right shape for each man's leg. So supporters twist it and its might is crushed under foot." George skilfully uses recorded excerpts like this to explain the dichotomy that the nation faced at the time. Did one support the anointed King and let misrule continue or did one follow the reforming zeal of the Yorkists?

George compares many "expert witness" statements to give the book a well-balanced feel. Thoroughly recommended.

George Peter Algar: Editor of the Towton Herald, Towton Battlefield Society's official magazine.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Mar 2011, 18:34:56 GMT
I've recently moved from solely reading Tudor history to the 15th century so am a little wary at what I buy at the moment about this period, knowing that within the wealth of Tudor books there is a lot of junk. Thanks for a very helpful review. I'm currently reading Wilkinson's 'Richard - The Young King To Be' which covers Towton briefly and stating it was England's bloodiest battle got me a intrigued ironically when I normally shy away from the military aspects of history and centre on the political. This may be my next 15th century purchase. Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2011, 16:54:48 GMT
You will not be disappointed with this book. There is far less emphasis on the battle and much more on the unique circumstancs that caused it.
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