One of the great, nearly forgotten enigmas of English history, presented, more often than not, with verve. Still, even Henry...

THE PERFECT PRINCE

THE MYSTERY OF PERKIN WARBECK AND HIS QUEST FOR THE THRONE OF ENGLAND

A vivid, if overlong, biographical study of identity and deception in Tudor England.

In the gallery of the world’s grand impostors, the handsome, twentysomething young man who sought the English throne as Richard, Duke of York, may have been the most audacious. He claimed to be the son of King Edward IV and the younger of the two princes imprisoned in the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard III. Miraculously, he said, he survived a murder attempt and would now take back the throne from usurper Henry VII. Was it true? Although English opinion assumed the princes died, definitive evidence has not emerged to this day. Yet several key members of Europe’s royalty—including Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Emperor Maximilian, Charles VII of France, and Duchess Margaret of Burgundy—backed the “Duke of York.” After eight years in which he allied with James IV of Scotland and even invaded England three times, “Richard” was finally captured, confessed that he was Perkin Warbeck, the son of a Flemish boatman, and was hanged in 1499 as a common criminal. Economist senior editor Wroe (A Fool and His Money, 1995, etc.) sorts out Warbeck’s conflicting stories, as well as Henry’s shifting efforts to counter this phantom menace to his rule. Best of all, she fills in the margins of this scantily documented episode with intriguing analyses of 15th-century courting customs, fashions (wearing silk, at a time when no one below the rank of knight could wear it, bolstered Warbeck’s credibility), and, most crucially, a cultural atmosphere that encouraged make-believe. (“Navigators often did not know which country they were in, what adjoined it, where the rivers led, or what its nature was; but, not knowing, they pretended to.”)

One of the great, nearly forgotten enigmas of English history, presented, more often than not, with verve. Still, even Henry VIII—a more controversial and consequential figure—doesn’t always get such in-depth treatment.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2003

ISBN: 1-4000-6033-8

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more