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The Brothers York

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For some reason I expected this to be Historical Fiction, but it turned out to be History. It's about the Wars of the Roses and the Brothers from the York dynasty who might have filled the place that the Tudor family does in history instead, if it hadn't been for in-fighting.

There are long chapters with just the occasional line break. As such it took me quite a long time to read it in small increments. It was also just a bit dry, but the subject is interesting and kept my attention. I found it amazing how England came so close to having a very different history!

Overall I really enjoyed the book and it filled in a big gap in the my knowledge of history. I do prefer historical accounts that tell the story of people rather than impersonal war statistics and this definitely fulfilled that preference for me.
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This book is absolutely gripping; at times it reads more like a thriller novel than a piece of historical analysis. Insightful, and I think it will definitely appeal to people who feel they might not always connect to drier re-tellings of history; to use a cliché, it brings the history to life.
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A problematic reading of sources and serious lack of any attempt at objectivity makes this a difficult one to evaluate. As a result, I'm not going to review it and nothing will be posted online. Many thanks for allowing me to try it.
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As a Yorkshire girl born and bred and a writer of Yorkshire history I just had to read this book. I am glad I did a fascinating account of the lives of the three brothers - Edward IV, Richard III and George, Duke of Clarence - from Edward’s taking of the throne in 1461, through the Wars of the Roses, to the Battle of Bosworth and beyond. Beautifully written and expertly researched. A must-read for all lovers of English history.
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I always enjoy adding more facts to my knowledge surrounding the Wars of the Roses so this was great for me as I have read several books with the York brothers included. Perhaps not the best for beginners as it’s quite a dense academic look but enjoyable none the less.
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This was an excellent book that highlighted the shifting political situation in England around the time of Edward IV and Richard III. The narrative was very easy to follow and the significant number of quotes added to the development of the characters which is often missing in books of this nature. You believed that you could visualise the key characters and understand their motivations.
The book was exceptionally well researched and offered a much better understanding of what was happening in Europe around the selected timeframe.
The narrative flowed well and the reader remained interested in its progress throughout. The treachery of many of the key players was explained in a balanced manner leading to the expectation that this was the norm at the time.
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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.
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A very meaty read,ideal for the lockdown when I had plenty of time to devote to reading.It's a meticulous and detailed account of the Wars of the Roses and the Yorkist dynasty of Edward IV and Richard III,with all its intrigue,battles and treaties  .I had read quite a lot of fiction about this period but this was extremely interesting and gave me a context which novels don't provide.
I would maybe have liked a bit less detailing  of the battles and a bit more about the personalities-it didn't give much information about the Yorkist women or any theories about the Princes in the Tower beyond saying they were killed.However,I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in English history of the late Middle Ages.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review which reflects my own opinions.
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A very long and well researched book( which wasn't the easiest to read on a Kindle!) telling the story of the three brothers Edward IV, George Duke of Clarence and Richard III. The author writes I believe a balanced view of the family implosion showing the volatile changes of loyalty in this era of our history which spurned a quarter of a century but which destroyed itself before its time.
I did not feel that the author had any particular bias towards the House of either Lancaster or York and I particularly liked his choice of leaving out any opinion on the death of the princes in the Tower leaving it for the reader to make up their own mind..
Although a work of non-fiction it reads easily, is absorbing and very detailed due to the use of a huge amount of both primary and secondary sources by Thomas Penn.
My thanks to NetGalley and Penquin Books for this chance to leave a fair and unbiased review.
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I have read quite a few accounts of the Wars of the Roses, both historical and fiction, but I have not encountered the approach that Penn takes here; discussing the wars through the fractious relationships between the sons of Richard, Due of York: King Edward IV, George Duke of Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III). When Edward seized the throne from Henry VI, his brothers were still quite young, and Penn shows their attempts to carve out their own power bases as they mature by seeking Edward's favour. The rivalry between them eventually imperilled Edward's reign.

Of course the notorious Duke of Warwick gets a considerable amount of attention, but Penn's account also highlighted for me the degree to which some women of the time leveraged their power and influence to the degree that they could bring down kings: Margaret of Anjou, Cecily Neville, Elizabeth Woodville, and Margaret Beaufort among them. Warwick was not the only "king-maker" during those wars.
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I loved The Winter King and have always wondered what Thomas Penn might turn his eye to next. This book is great; accessible yet deep, penetrating yet deft. I really enjoyed it.
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Penn starts this history of the three York brothers with the background story of the weak King Henry VI, surrounded by venal lords and constantly threatened by Richard, Duke of York, father of the three brothers, who had a competing claim to the throne through the female line. He then takes us in a linear fashion through the downfall of Henry, and the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III, ending with Richard’s downfall and the rise to power of Henry VII, the first of the Tudors.

Penn writes very well, avoiding academic jargon and taking plenty of time to fill in the characters of the people he’s discussing. He assumes no prior knowledge, which as a newcomer to the period I found extremely helpful since it meant I never found myself floundering over unexplained references, as can often happen with history books. 

The bulk of the book concentrates on the reign of Edward IV, which makes sense since he ruled for over twenty years whereas the middle brother George, Duke of Clarence, never got to be king and the youngest brother, Richard III, managed a mere two years before he lost his crown, and his life along with it. Unfortunately, Richard is by far the more interesting king (in my opinion), so I’d have been happier to spend more time in his company and rather less on Edward’s interminable taxes and squabbles with France and Burgundy. I have a feeling this says far more about my dilettante approach to history than it does about the book, however! But after an excellent start with all the intrigue and fighting leading up to Edward’s final power grab, I found my interest dipped for quite a long period in the middle of the book as Penn laid out the detail of his long reign.

It picks up again when Edward finally dies, and the nefarious Richard usurps the throne from his nephew. Richard’s reign might have been short but it’s full of incident and Penn tells it excellently. Intriguingly, although of course he relates the story of the Princes in the Tower, Penn doesn’t tell us his own opinion as to whether Richard was guilty of their murder or not. I suppose this makes sense, since (weirdly) there are still strong factions on either side of that question and he’d have been bound to alienate half his readership whichever position he took. He gives enough detail of the event and the contemporaneous rumours around it for the reader to make up her own mind, if she hasn’t already. (Yes, of course Richard was guilty, if you’re wondering... ;) )

Penn finishes as Richard’s reign comes to its tragic/well-deserved* end, rounding the story off with an uber-quick résumé of Henry VII and the Tudors, explaining how the Yorkist divide gradually diminished over time.

Overall, this is an excellent history, plainly but well told. I’d say it’s aimed more at the general reader than an academic audience, and is particularly good as an introduction to the period – I’m not sure that there’s much new in it for people who already have a solid understanding of the time of the York kings. It’s clearly well researched, with plenty of detail, and it covers all the major personalities of the time, not just the brothers. I came out of it feeling much clearer about how all the various well known names – Warwick, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret of Anjou, etc. – fitted together, and what parts they played in the Yorkist story. I did struggle with the long middle section of Edward’s rather dull reign, but a historian really can’t be expected to make something exciting if it isn’t. But the first and last sections had more than enough treachery, betrayal and general skulduggery to satisfy even me! Recommended. 4½ stars for me, so rounded up.

*delete according to preference

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Allen Lane.
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I loved Thomas Penn's Winter King. His work seems so fresh, yet his attention to detail is immense. One of the best historians working today.
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I was looking forward to reading this book and ended up being disappointed. Why? Because although this is a readable book and gives an insight into the Wars of the Roses and the three brothers, Edward, George and Richard there are inaccuracies in the book. For example, I lived in Wakefield for many years but no one there called it Wakefield Castle, it's Sandal Castle. The memorial to the Duke of York is in Sandal.  Also as someone who has been interested in Richard III since I read that wonderful book 'A Daughter of Time' as a teenager  I believe that Richard III was a man of his times, yes he probably did have faults but I don't think he's the villain that history (mainly prompted by Tudor propaganda) has made him out to be, yet the author has resurrected this 'evidence' to flesh out his account of Richard. I have a teenage grandson who loves history and Richard III, - I won't suggest he reads this.
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The Brothers York by Thomas Penn was an error on my part. I’d just finished reading The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson and loved the character building so I thought this would give me an insight into the men of the period.  Since this writing is definitely a different genre I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this more factual read and gave up early on. I’ve put it in the “too hard” folder for now but it’s one I think I might come back to at a different time. My advice is to download a sample to see if it’s for you and definitely get your thinking head on to follow the historical narrative
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The Brothers York by Thomas Penn is a superb example of how history can be serious, detailed, absorbing and exciting. I loved it.

The York brothers – Edward, George and Richard were the successors of Edward III. Their history, spanning three kingships from 1465 to 1485, is full of rivalry, feuds, treachery and deception. This is one of the bloodiest periods in English history and Penn leads the reader through the twists and turns of fate that lead to the rise and fall of the three York brothers and ultimately to the Tudor dynasty starting with Henry VII.

The Brothers York reads as exciting narrative but it is also well researched and insightful history. I couldn’t put it down.
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This was a big read, not for the faint hearted or for those wanting a light holiday novel. The story of the war of the Roses is complex, full of twists and turns, allies becoming enemies, villains becoming the good guys, and back again. History really does provide the best plots and our author has done their research well. The wonderful thing is that, while this is a work of non fiction, it is written to be read, not like a textbook. Highly recommend it, just allow a lot of time....
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I have mentioned before that historical novels are not my usual go to genre, but I am always open to stepping outside my comfort zone when the blurb interests me, and this one did.

I did have to slow my reading down a lot to be able to process this book, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, at times I struggled, but overall I found this to be a solid and interesting read.
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A very interesting and well researched book. Very readable and not too confusing for anyone new to historical subjects.
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My thanks to Penguin U.K. Allen Lane for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Brothers York: An English Tragedy’ by Thomas Penn in exchange for an honest review. It was published on 3 October 2019 in hardback, audiobook, and ebook and will be available in paperback on 2 April 2020. 

“It is 1461 and England is crippled by civil war. One freezing morning, a teenage boy wins a battle in the Welsh marches, and claims the crown. He is Edward IV, first king of the usurping house of York...”

While I have read a number of fictional books set during this turbulent period of English history, this was my first foray into nonfiction about the Wars of the Roses. I found this a well written and accessible read while remaining a scholarly work providing in its final 13% (90 pages) notes, a detailed bibliography and index. 

I appreciated that Penn also incorporated details of economic and social issues including the introduction of the printing press to England by William Caxton, the influence of the Medici bankers and the early stirrings of the Renaissance. 

Although Penn tried to be impartial I did feel he was more inclined to support the Lancastrian cause and the young Henry Tudor, who was the subject of his 2012, ‘The WinterKing’.  Also, there was only minimal information about the women, who made important contributions to the period’s history.

Still, I am glad that I finally have read it and supplemented the eARC by borrowing its audiobook edition, read by Roy McMillan.
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