Reviews

The Brothers York: An English Tragedy, by Thomas Penn

sophronisba's review

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challenging dark informative reflective sad medium-paced

4.25

A compelling and accessible synthesis of the Wars of the Roses, told from the point of view of the Yorks. Highly recommended as a one-volume pocket history of the period.

beccaannekent's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional informative slow-paced

4.0

hfltaylor's review

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funny informative medium-paced

5.0

really enjoyable nonfiction, really improved my understanding of the period whilst still having humour !!

hollymalone's review

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4.0

Fantastic, easily digestible look at the York brothers and all who lived, loved and died as satellites in their epic struggle.

journeymouse's review

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dark informative medium-paced

4.0

alanepaull's review

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medium-paced
Very well written narrative of the events of the Wars of the Roses from the point of view of Edward, Clarence and Richard. Excellent character assessments throughout.

irishcontessa's review

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informative medium-paced

4.0

wordsofclover's review

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4.0

I received a copy of this book via the author/publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a really expansive in-depth look at the rise and fall of both Kind Edward IV and his brother King Richard III, as well as some commentary around the history revolving the 'Princes in the Tower' and what could have happened to them. This book is about 70-80% King Edward IV, and the last 15% is King Richard III and the last 5% if even, looks at King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York with a brief paragraph on King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

As someone already very interested in this time period and the York rulers, and I have read historical fiction in the time period before (mainly Philippa Gregory's The White Queen series) and so was aware of some major events and players and this certainly helped. I think this is a very dense, richly packed book and you would need to have a general interest in the subject and the families to get a good enjoyment out of it.

I'm a fast reader but this book slowed my reading down considerably but it wasn't one I wanted to rush. I wanted to take in the history and understand the events and the causes and repercussions of them.

I really enjoyed this and it's very obvious that a lot of time and effort went into this book. It's not written in a way that's inaccessible to those who may not be history buffs but is also quite conversation and pleasant to read as well without losing the poignancy of the historical twists and turns.

nietzschesghost's review

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5.0

For a vast proportion of my life, I was convinced that I felt nothing but total contempt and disinterest when it came to the topic of history and as a consequence avoided it. But this book has reignited my love of history and focuses solely on the House of York and the fact that it managed to destroy itself from the inside out. This is a complex and compulsively readable political thriller and manages to tell the story of the House of York and its eventual downfall in a very engaging fashion; quite how Mr Penn achieves the perfect balance between information and drama is beyond me. An astonishing feat of writing. It doesn't take long before you are as gripped as you would be with a superb fiction book; it certainly is more fascinating than many other similar reads.

Lively and accessible, you can see just how passionate Penn is about the topic as he writes with such flowing language and no amount of effort was spared trying to keep this as interesting and absorbing as it was. It has undoubtedly become the author's labour of love and I imagine it took a long time to compile. His writing is infectious and definitely lightens up the subject meaning more people will enjoy it. It is clear it has been crafted to attract non-history readers and those who appreciate highly informative book but also those easy and quick to get through. A definitive, detail-centric story and rightly holds a mirror up to the mistakes made by brothers Edward, George and Richard. A superb read. Many thanks to Allen Lane for an ARC.

mylogicisfuzzy's review

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4.0

An impressive account of the Wars of the Roses seen through the rise and fall of the Yorkist dynasty, the three brothers: Edward IV, George, Duke of Clarence and Richard III. In reassessing the brothers, individually and in their relationships with each other and those around them, Penn aims to cast the long conflict as a ‘sickness within the Yorkist family’ and largely succeeds. This is gripping history, engagingly written and at times, it had me longing for a good historical novel about the period to read concurrently (I don’t rate Philippa Gregory). It is also very extensively researched and detailed, going well beyond popular histories of the period.

In very simplified terms, the dynastic upheaval of the hundred year period after the death of Edward III could be summed up in ‘too many surviving descendants’ brought up in the belief they were truly exceptional and that the throne of England should be theirs by right. The York brothers were no exception and all three are fascinating. Their shifting allegiances, feuds and paranoia are vividly brought to life. I also particularly liked the inclusion of foreign policy, the relationships between England, France and Burgundy and to lesser degree, Scotland. One small criticism though is the absence of female voices. Penn includes a lot of primary sources from foreign visitors to English court, ambassadors, merchants, bankers, the wealth of sources is admirable. Yet not enough sources on women of Yorkist dynasty, Cecily, the matriarch or the brother’s wives. Hence four rather than five stars in what is otherwise an excellent book.

My thanks to Penguin Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review The Brothers York.