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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Wars of the Roses; The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones {Book Spotlight and Book Review)

Publication.Date  October 2014

Published By:  Penguin Books, (USA) LLC
WebsiteDan Jones

The War of the Roses Goodreads

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I was given a copy of this book by Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review

The author of the New York Times bestseller The Plantagenetschronicles the next chapter in British history—the historical backdrop for Game of Thrones

The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors.

Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.

There were two basic functions of kingship in the Middle Ages. The first was to uphold justice. The second was to fight wars. There was no sense in the 1440s that Henry VI was capable of doing either.
In the spring of 1464 Edward was still fighting for his throne. Part of this effort was military, and part involved a concerted campaign of persuasion: an  appeal to his realm for allegiance.
The burdens and disappointments of middle age brought about a sorry decline in Henry VII. He was forty-nine when Edmund de la Pole was finally returned to his grasp, and his sight failed and his health began to stutter, he became increasingly withdrawn, suspicious and tyrannical.

Historical narratives are generally not page-turners, they are interesting accounts of 
a period that the author has researched and compiled facts on for the benefit of the 
reader.  A reader generally chooses such a book to read because he or she is 
interested in learning about a specific period or historical occurrence. 

 The Wars of The Roses by Dan Jones is not the typical historical narrative that a reader would expect.  Dan Jones is a skillful storyteller, bringing life to a rather interesting and 
complicated time in history in which the crown of England changed hands several times in a rather short period of time. 

 The Wars of The Roses narrates the struggles between the rival houses of York and 
Lancaster in the 15th century culminating in the rise of the Tudors.  This era was 
filled with betrayal, violence, and heroism that have fascinated historians for 
generations.  Dan Jones narrates this period in a manner that draws the reader into 
the story like few historical narratives are able.

 At no point does the story feel forced or drawn out as with many historical narratives, rather the reader will become engrossed in the story even knowing the outcome based on familiarity with the subject. I for one felt that the author did a superb job of making the story fast paced enough to engage the reader but slow enough for the reader to keep pace with the account. 

Because of the pace of the story telling and constant excitement, The Wars of The 
Roses is a historical narrative that the reader will discover to be a page-turner.  The 
action is non-stop; from wars, beheadings, and different owners of the crown, this 
book made history fun.  I forgot I was reading a historical narrative and became 
engrossed in the story rather quickly.  This latest masterpiece by Dan Jones would 
be strongly recommended to any reader, from those that appreciate an interesting 
story to those that find interest in learning about this particular period of history.  

The Wars of The Roses is a historically accurate story that will be enjoyed and 
appreciated by a broad audience, told in an informative and entertaining manner 
that few books of this genre achieve. 

As with the first book in this historical account "The Plantagenets," this book does NOT disappoint with its quick pace and excitement throughout, I find myself wanting to read more books that take place in this era. 

Author Bio:

Dan Jones is a historian and an award-winning journalist. His first book, Summer of Blood: The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, was published in 2009 and was an Independent book of the year. His second book, published in the UK as The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England, and in the USA as The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings And Queens Who Made England, was a #1 bestseller and a book of the year in the Observer, The Times and the Sunday Telegraph.

Dan studied history at Cambridge University, where he was taught by David Starkey and Helen Castor. He graduated with a First in 2002. As a journalist he writes a regular column for the London Evening Standard and is also published widely on both sides of the Atlantic, in the Times, the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The New Statesman, The Literary Review, GQ, The Daily Beast, Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal.
He lives in London with his wife and daughters.

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