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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry IV, Part 1 - A Struggle for a Kingdom
The lengthy title for the 1598 printing was "The History of Henrie the Fourth, With the Battell at Shrewsburie, between the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North, with the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstaffe".
Surprisingly, Hal, Prince of Wales, (later Henry V) was not even mentioned in this verbose title although many would...
Published on October 16, 2000 by Michael Wischmeyer

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unacceptable, Amazon.
This is a review of the so-called *Kindle edition* of Henry IV.2. I was directed to this edition by clicking on the Kindle link on the Folger paperback edition but this is certainly *not* a Kindle version of the Folger edition. Amazon - when I click for the Kindle edition, I want a Kindle edition of *that book*, not a *similar* book with the same title. I want (and will...
Published on February 3, 2011 by Tony Pisculli


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry IV, Part 1 - A Struggle for a Kingdom, October 16, 2000
The lengthy title for the 1598 printing was "The History of Henrie the Fourth, With the Battell at Shrewsburie, between the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North, with the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstaffe".
Surprisingly, Hal, Prince of Wales, (later Henry V) was not even mentioned in this verbose title although many would consider him to be the central character. This play is clearly the dramatization of a struggle for a kingdom, but it is equally the story of Hal's wild and reckless youthful adventures with Falstaff and other disreputable companions.
Shakespeare did not write his plays about English kings in chronological order, but these plays do have a historical unity. It is helpful (but not essential) to read the tetralogy Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and 2, and Henry V in chronological order. Whatever route you take, I highly recommend buying a companion copy of Peter Saccio's "Shakespeare's English Kings", an engaging look at how Shakespeare revised history to achieve dramatic effect.
A wide selection of Henry IV editions are available, including older editions in used bookstores. I am familiar with a few and have personal favorites:
The New Folger Library Shakespeare is my first choice among the inexpensive editions of Henry IV. "New" replaces the prior version in use for 35 years. It uses "facing page" format with scene summaries, explanations for rare and archaic words and expressions, and Elizabethan drawings located on the left page; the Henry IV text is on the right. I particularly liked the section on "Reading Shakespeare's Language in Henry IV" and Alexander Legget's literary analysis (save this until you have read the play). The fascinating article "Historical Background: Sir John Falstaff and Sir John Oldcastle" adds a religious dimension to the play that I had not previously noted.
The Bedford Shakespeare Series provides an excellent study text (edited by Barbara Hodgdon) titled "The First Part of King Henry the Fourth". It is a little more expensive, is about 400 pages, and provides a broad range of source and context documentation. It would be excellent for an upper level course in Shakespeare. The context documentation is fascinating and informative; it ranges from the Holinshed Chronicles to Elizabethan writing on Civic Order to detailed cultural studies of London's diverse populous. Other chapters address the OldCastle controversy and the "Education of a Prince".
I also like the Norton Critical edition (edited by James Sanderson), "Henry the Fourth, Part 1", particularly for its extensive collection of literary criticism. The essays are divided into two parts: 1) the theme, characters, structure, and style of the play and 2) a wide variety of interpretation directed toward that roguish character, Sir John Falstaff.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Henry IV, Part 1":, November 2, 2002
By 
James Yanni (Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo. USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When rating Shakespeare, I am comparing it to other Shakespeare. Otherwise, the consistent "5 stars" wouldn't tell you much. So when I rate this book five stars, I'm saying it's one of the best of the best.
As a matter of fact, it isn't unusual for Shakespeare's "histories" to be more interesting to the modern reader than either his comedies or his tragedies; they fit the modern style that doesn't insist that comedies must have everything work out well in the end, or that tragedies must be deadly serious with everyone dying at the end, as was the convention in Shakespeare's time. Thus, this book has a serious plot, real drama, and blood and destruction, yet still has many extremely funny scenes. And as Shakespearean plays go, it's a fairly easy read, although in places the footnotes are still neccessary. The only caveat I will make is that one needs to remember not to consider Shakespeare's histories particularly historical; they have about as much historical accuracy as the Disney version of Pocahontas. Treat them as excellent stories based (very) loosely on history, and you'll do fine.
It's a real shame that the language has changed so much since Shakespeare was writing that his plays are no longer accessable to the masses, because that's who Shakespeare was writing for. Granted, there is enough seriousness to satisfy the intelligensia, but there is generally enough action and bawdy humor to satisfy any connouiseur of modern hit movies, if only they could understand it, and this book is no exception. Unfortunately, once you change the language, it's no longer Shakespeare, until and unless the rewriter can be found who has as much genius for the modern language as Shakespeare had for his own. I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry IV, Part I: Civil and Domestic Drama, August 14, 2000
Shakespeare's "Henry IV Part I" shows King Henry IV dealing with complex problems: England is in the midst of civil unrest, as the Percy family, angered by their treatment after unwittingly helping Henry IV ascend to the throne, threatens to depose the monarch. At home, Henry IV is despairing over the development of his son, Henry, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. Prince Henry consorts with thieves, rogues, and scoundrels - his scandalous personal relationships seem to threaten the King's peace of mind more than the state of his kingdom.
Aside from these larger concerns that frame the play, "Henry IV Part I" deals more with Prince Henry than it does with the monarch of the title. Throughout the play, Prince Henry is seen more amongst the rabble commoners than attending to matters of state. He is guided in his licentiousness by the enormously funny (pun intended) Sir John Falstaff, whose schemes and drunkenness are more innocent and endearing in Part I than they become in Part II.
Falstaff's reckless and conceited behaviour casts a shadow over the entire play, symbolic as it is of Prince Henry's moral dilemma and of the precarious state of the nation. Falstaff instantly calls to mind Kenneth Grahame's magnificent Mr. Toad from "The Wind in the Willows," and is Toad's direct literary forefather. Falstaff is the most interesting and dynamic figure in "Henry IV Part I" and certainly the most memorable character in the play.
Prince Henry discovers that his responsibilities outweigh his fondness for Spanish wine, and is called to lead the King's army against that of the arrogant 'Hotspur' Percy, himself a rising political force. Their confrontation, brilliantly scripted and enacted, is central to Shakespeare's entire Lancaster-York saga, and should be read closely and with special attention.
Of the two parts of "Henry IV," Part I is by far the best and most flawlessly executed. The King's problems provide an adequate backdrop for the development of Prince Henry; 'Hotspur' is an excellent antagonist (with the whole Percy family offering a great contrast with that of the King); and Falstaff performs his role without dominating the play, as he tends to in Part II. Shakespeare does not need my praise or endorsement, but his "Henry IV Part I" blows me away. It is absolutely fantastic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The two sides of Hal, July 29, 2004
By 
Scout1980 (Louisiana United States) - See all my reviews
Henry IV remains one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, even though the tragedies and comedies get far more attention and seeming appreciation than do the histories. As an English major, I examined Henry's (Hal's) character, and I focused on his development from a somewhat foolhardy young man into a self-assured, even manipulative prince. It is hard to say which of these Hal truly is, or if he is a little bit of both.

At the beginning of the play, Hal spends his free time cavorting around with his friend Falstaff (who provides all of the laughs in the play and is cited as one of the best comic characters in all literature). In the first act we already see hints in Hal's sololiquy that he may not be as carefree as we are led to believe, and that he might betray friends like Falstaff to be the prince that he is expected to be. Read on in "Henry V" to see just how much of a polished politician Hal becomes--his battle cries and his "once more unto the breech, dear friends" is masterful in its persuasiveness and ability to induce his countrymen to fight.

Hotspur serves as a nice counterpoint to Hal in "Henry IV." Hotspur is the hothead and Hal makes his decisions calmly and rationally. This almost inhuman rationality comes into play again in "Henry V" and makes you long for the seemingly carefree Hal.

All in all, "Henry IV" is a great read and quite an interesting character study--I highly recommend it!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unacceptable, Amazon., February 3, 2011
By 
This is a review of the so-called *Kindle edition* of Henry IV.2. I was directed to this edition by clicking on the Kindle link on the Folger paperback edition but this is certainly *not* a Kindle version of the Folger edition. Amazon - when I click for the Kindle edition, I want a Kindle edition of *that book*, not a *similar* book with the same title. I want (and will pay for) Folger's typesetting, editing, front matter and text notes - none of which are included here. In addition the typography of this electronic version is the worst I've ever seen. Every Kindle owner is used to occasional layout and typograhic quirks but this is literally unreadable. The font switches between Times Roman and Courier seemingly at random. Anyone who *is* looking for an ebook of Henry IV.2 would be better served with one of the many free versions on the web. Please fix this, Amazon. Do not serve this up as a "Kindle edition" of a book that is not. Better yet, drop this piece of ill-formated trash from you store entirely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is King Henry IV Part 1, June 26, 2003
This is the play where the Percy rebellion begins and centers around the Achilles-like Hotspur. Eventually, Hotspur (Henry Percy) and Prince Hal (Henry Monmouth - later Henry V) battle in single combat.

We also get to see the contrast between these young men in temperament and character. King Henry wishes his son were more like Hotspur. Prince Hal realizes his own weaknesses and seems to try to assure himself (and us) that when the time comes he will change and all his youthful foolishness will be forgotten. Wouldn't that be a luxury we wish we could all have afforded when we were young?

Of course, Prince Hal's guide through the world of the cutpurse and highwayman is the Lord of Misrule, the incomparable Falstaff. His wit and gut are featured in full. When Prince Hal and Poins double-cross Falstaff & company, the follow on scenes are funny, but full of consequence even into the next play.

But, you certainly don't need me to tell you anything about Shakespeare. Like millions of other folks, I am in love with the writing. However, as all of us who read Shakespeare know, it isn't a simple issue. Most of us need help in understanding the text. There are many plays on words, many words no longer current in English and, besides, Shakespeare's vocabulary is richer than almost everyone else's who ever lived. There is also the issue of historical context, and the variations of text since the plays were never published in their author's lifetime.

For those of us who need that help and want to dig a bit deeper, the Arden editions of Shakespeare are just wonderful.

-Before the text of the play we get very readable and helpful essays discussing the sources and themes and other important issues about the play.

-In the text of the play we get as authoritative a text as exists with helpful notes about textual variations in other sources. We also get many many footnotes explaining unusual words or word plays or thematic points that would likely not be known by us reading in the 21st century.

-After the text we get excerpts from likely source materials used by Shakespeare and more background material to help us enrich our understanding and enjoyment of the play.

However, these extras are only available in the individual editions. If you buy the "Complete Plays" you get text and notes, but not the before and after material which add so much! Plus, the individual editions are easier to read from and handier to carry around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The single editions have much more background, June 26, 2003
This is the play where Henry IV squashes the Percy rebellion but himself becomes ill and dies. So, Price Hal becomes King Henry V and this leads to the next play of that name.
The wonderful Falstaff is also on glorious display. This is also the play with the famous tavern scene (Act II, Scene IV) that can be read endlessly with new enjoyment.
Everyone has his or her own take on Falstaff and his treatment at the hands of Henry V, but I dislike it even though I understand it. Prince Hal and his transformation into Henry V is not someone I admire a lot. Nor is Falstaff's manner of living, but his wit is so sharp and his intelligence so vast that it is easy to still delight in him.
But, you certainly don't need me to tell you anything about Shakespeare. Like millions of other folks, I am in love with the writing. However, as all of us who read Shakespeare know, it isn't a simple issue. Most of us need help in understanding the text. There are many plays on words, many words no longer current in English and, besides, Shakespeare's vocabulary is richer than almost everyone else's who ever lived. There is also the issue of historical context, and the variations of text since the plays were never published in their author's lifetime.
For those of us who need that help and want to dig a bit deeper, the Arden editions of Shakespeare are just wonderful.
-Before the text of the play we get very readable and helpful essays discussing the sources and themes and other important issues about the play.

-In the text of the play we get as authoritative a text as exists with helpful notes about textual variations in other sources. We also get many many footnotes explaining unusual words or word plays or thematic points that would likely not be known by us reading in the 21st century.
-After the text we get excerpts from likely source materials used by Shakespeare and more background material to help us enrich our understanding and enjoyment of the play.
However, these extras are only available in the individual editions. If you buy the "Complete Plays" you get text and notes, but not the before and after material which add so much! Plus, the individual editions are easier to read from and handier to carry around.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Sequel to "Richard II.", March 24, 2000
To get as much as you can out of this play, you MUST read "Richard II" first. Shakespeare deserves much credit for making the villain in "Richard II" (King Henry IV) the hero in this play. It is in this play that King Henry IV realizes political gratitude is short lived and Richard's prediction of Henry IV's trials comes true. Not only does King Henry IV realize that his seizing the crown came with consequences. but he also has to deal with his riotous son (the eventual Henry V). 3.2, where King Henry IV confronts his undisciplined son is quite memorable. Besides all this, Shakespeare introduces us to his comical Falstaff. So we have an interesting turn of events, dramatic confrontations, scenes of war, and comical touches. ENJOY!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Making of a King, August 14, 2000
Shakespeare's "Henry IV Part II" concerns the triumphant decline of King Henry IV, and the ascension of his son, Henry, Prince of Wales, to the throne as King Henry V. As in "Henry IV Part I," Part II's main action concerns the attempts of the King to suppress civil strife, which is manifested once again in threatened rebellion. In "Henry IV Part II," the rebels are led by Scroop, the Archbishop of York, the most powerful religious figure in England. The Archbishop's involvement "turns insurrection to religion," thereby hoping to gain popular support and enlistment in the army against Henry IV.
Henry, Prince of Wales, as the next in line to the throne, is expected to take a hard line against these threats, and lead the charge against the rebel forces. However, as in Part I, Prince Henry is nervous, as a young man will be, about accepting responsibility for himself, much less for an entire nation. A frivolous youth, he associates with the common folk in bars and taverns, led in his debaucheries by the notoriously comic Sir John Falstaff. The dichotomy between Prince Henry's father figures, the frail, but courageous King Henry IV and the robust, but cowardly Falstaff sets up the scope of the choice Prince Henry must make. His choice, he comes to realize, will affect the course of his country.
The forces mount as the play moves forward - the King's army is ordered, well-equipped, and led by formidable generals - the Archbishop's army is made up largely of untrained citizens. The meeting of the armies' leaders in the Gaultree Forest of Yorkshire is the emotional and tactical climax of the play, and handled with dramatic precision by Shakespeare.
The growth of Prince Henry, the shaping of his mind, his relationships with his noble father and brothers, as well as those with his low, vulgar drinking buddies, forms the focus of "Henry IV Part II." Through five deceptively simple acts, Shakespeare illustrates the birth of a man and a king, and points the way to domestic peace. This is a play I enjoyed very much indeed, and would recommend reading alongside "Henry IV Part I" for maximum effect.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Henry IV Part II - A Good Play In the Middle of 2 Great Ones, December 16, 2002
By 
Chris Salzer (Gainesville, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
First off, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Part I and absolutely adored Henry V. Having said that, I found Part II to be enjoyable, yet perhaps leaving something to be desired - like more action. Falstaff and Prince Hal both come off as somewhat disingenuous and calculating Machiavellian individuals. Disappointingly, Falstaff speaks poorly of Prince Hal while unwittingly in his midst. Conversely, The Prince of Wales prematurely takes the crown before his King Henry IV's death as well as disassociating himself with Falstaff after he is crowned King. These instances, along with others throughout the play, show the self-serving tendencies of both characters.
However, we can proudly witness the maturation of the young King from wild & dissolute young Prince Hal into one of the most revered monarchs in English history, King Henry V. Part II remains an intriguing play due to its paradoxical nature, yet unfortunately rarely acted out today. Now that I have read Henry IV(I&II) for the first time, I gladly move on to one of my personal favorites, Henry V. I recommend both parts(Folger editions) for all Shakespeare enthusiasts - they have given me greater insight into the young Henry V - when he was more concerned with downing a pint of ale rather than downing the French at Agincourt.
2 Magnificent Quotes from Henry IV Part II -
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." - King Henry IV
"He hath eaten me out of house and home." - Mistress Quickly
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Henry IV, Part I (Folger Shakespeare Library)
Henry IV, Part I (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (Mass Market Paperback - January 1, 2005)
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