The source material occasionally feels overfamiliar, but Royle’s meticulous research, supplemented by a useful appendix...



An account of the epic 15th-century battle for the crown of England.

How did the struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster, famously dubbed the Wars of the Roses, tear apart England for 30 years? Royle (Civil War, 2005, etc.) attempts to find the answers in his sprawling history, which outlines the involvement of all the key figures. He begins by pinpointing the conflict’s genesis in the tumultuous period that followed the abdication of Richard II in 1399. Examining Richard’s reign, the author cleverly uses Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to give a glimpse of 14th-century English society. A lengthy history of the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V follows, and Royle packs his text with dramatic descriptions of the violence that pockmarked that era. (The sudden beheading of Duke John under Henry V is a particularly gruesome highlight.) Tensions mounted during these successive reigns, minor skirmishes broke out, and after a nine-month-old child became King Henry VI, Richard, Duke of York, sought to claim the throne from the Lancastrians. Familiar tales of battles follow, and Royle does a good job of capturing the mood of the country, roiled by great economic uncertainty during the years of the Yorkist uprising. He leaves no stone unturned in this exhaustive retelling, and he has a sharp eye for detail, explaining in one instance how changes in the wind provided Yorkist archers with a sudden advantage.

The source material occasionally feels overfamiliar, but Royle’s meticulous research, supplemented by a useful appendix listing the main characters, makes this a welcome addition to the body of literature about this pivotal epoch in English history.

Pub Date: July 24, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4039-6672-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2008

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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