Morrison's biography of Henry VIII rescues that monarch from the stereotype most Americans have of him (the residuum of Charles Laughton's famed characterization in the movies), that of a belly-slapping, belching glutton with a penhant for axing his wives. A supreme egotist, King Henry cut a virile figure until the fickleness of his fifth wife aged him overnight. Morrison's Private Life is just that, although the author's Anglomania and reverence for Henry seldom perlt gross details,-- at least not the details we usually associate with a ""private ife."" Every piece of historical background is directly related to Henry, though, it's not included. Henry succeeded to the throne at eighteen and within six weeks married his dead brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon. They were quite happy for several years, but Katherine had a series of miscarriages, produced only a daughter and no male heir. After twenty years Henry took the reins of the Church into his own hands and had his marriage annulled. His loves and follies ave him no real peace until his super-annuated sixth marriage, though his third wife gave him an heir. The two wives he sent under the axe seem vaguely to have deserved it.