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The Wars of the Roses Paperback – June 25, 1996

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The Wars of the Roses + The Princes in the Tower + Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 25, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345404335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345404336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA?This book reaffirms Weir's mastery of English history. Like The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Princes in the Tower (both Ballantine, 1993), this title is jam-packed with information. The narrative begins with a short history of the House of Plantaganet, more specifically the disastrous rule of Richard II, which is seen as sowing the seeds of the conflict, and ends with the Battle of Tewkesbury and the murder of King Henry VI. The author weaves the story of the magnate families involved in the politics and rivalries of the era, and makes it understandable, interesting, and readable. Included are the simplified genealogical tables of the families involved as well as extensive primary- and secondary-source bibliographies. Any student of English history will appreciate the ease with which the period is unveiled and the detailed information on the people and places of England from 1399 to 1500.?Debbie Hyman, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this prequel to her Princes in the Tower (LJ 1/94), historian Weir presents a well-written, entertaining narrative of the first phase of the War of the Roses. Accepting the Tudor view that the conflict originated with Richard II's deposition, she devotes half of the book to relations between Lancaster and York from 1399 to 1455. The second half deals with the period from the first Battle of St. Albans (1455) to the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471). Weir centers her narrative upon leading figures?Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou, Richard of York, Edward IV, the earl of Warwick?and others. Though the text lacks footnotes and the bibliography omits some recent scholarship (e.g., by Rosemary Horrox and P.W. Hammond), Weir uses a variety of printed primary sources and secondary works. Much here will be familiar to scholars, but the work is a stimulating discussion as well as a fine introduction for the general reader.?William B. Robison, Southeastern Louisana Univ., Hammond
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Recommended read for any history buffs out there.
Keath A. Warlick
Like most others that have reviewed this, I too was confused by the naming system used in this book.
Daniel Llinas
I found this book well written, easy to read, and the narrative is easy to follow.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Mike Christie on October 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Wars of the Roses are one of the most confusing periods of English history. From the origins in the rivalries between Edward III's children to the final resolution with the founding of the Tudor dynasty by Henry VII, there are eight kings, including some of the best and worst England has had; and literally scores of major figures and families: the Nevilles, the Percys, the Woodvilles, the Beauforts, the Cliffords, the Bourchiers -- the list is endless.
Making this all comprehensible the first time through is simply impossible. Weir almost manages it, though; her style is very readable and friendly, and exciting without being sensational. Weir begins with a short section describing what England was like in the fifteenth century; then she starts the story proper with Edward III, whose five sons and their families are the central players in the history.
She ends her story in 1471, with the defeat of the Lancastrians and the subsequent murder of Henry VI. She only gives a page or two to the remainder of Edward IV's reign, and to the story of Richard III and the princes in the tower, and Henry VII's ultimate accession in 1485. This is almost certainly because she has covered this ground in another book, "The Princes In The Tower". The omission is understandable but still rather a mistake -- the conflict doesn't end till the Tudors are on the throne (and not even then, really -- there were pretenders for years).
The only other criticism I have is that the genealogy tables at the back are too small to read easily. I tried using a magnifying glass but the reproduction is poor enough that some letters are blurred into unreadability.
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Powell on June 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully readable history, covering the finalconflict between cousins (the House of Lancaster and the House ofYork, and then the House of York and the House of Tudor) over the crown of England. As the author states in her introduction, the full story begins in 1400 begins with a murder and ends in 1471 with another murder.
Weir writes a history of people who come alive on her pages. The characters history has given her are ambitious, incompetent, promiscuous, indolent, and lustful. The tale history has given her is one of these characters acting outside the law, each for his/her own purposes and, in so doing it is an early story of violent "politics of destruction" in the literal sense. This story changed forever the history of England.
I often judge how good a book is by whether I am moved to read another one by the same author, or on the same subject. I am now reading Weir's book on Elizabeth. If you are interested in a well written history of a pivotal period in English history, I would highly recommend that you give The Wars of the Roses a try.
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121 of 132 people found the following review helpful By A. Maxham on May 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In terms of her attention to detail, the author has clearly done a thorough job. However, I've read much (if not all) of Weir's work (concerning Eleanor of of Aquitaine, Princes in Tower, wives and kids of Henry the VIII, and Elizabeth I), and I had to *push* myself through this one. I don't know how much of this is her fault, and how much of it is the fault of the Yorkists who were slow in finally eliminating Henry VI as a challenge to the throne- at one point I thought "I'm gonna kill Henry myself if nobody else does soon."
It is a taxing read and while I really enjoyed the other books, this one was more frustrating. The reversals of fortune were particularly frustrating- for example on one page, Jaspar Tudor has the title to Pembroke, which is stripped from him, given to somebody else who is called Pembroke repeatedly but then is killed about two pages later and the name of Pembroke is given back to Jaspar Tudor. So on one page, the name Pembroke is for the House of Lancaster, but then any reference to "Pembroke" means the guy is for the house of York, and then when it switches back to Jaspar, Pembroke is pro-Lancaster again-- So at some point you think to yourself, "Wait, why is Pembroke for Edward- I thought he liked Henry... Oh yeah..." One wonders why (for the sake of clarity)- Jaspar Tudor just can't be called Jaspar Tudor throughout. She is accurate, but at some point I wish clarity had become a priority. While this is a complaint that I and others have had about all of Weir's (and other historians' books), it's particularly troublesome here because of the vast number of people involved, as well as the number of years that it covers.
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90 of 106 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I really enjoy learning about British history - and Alsison Weir does a great job. I did find, however, that The Wars of the Roses was the most complicated of her books that I have read. I believe this is because she almost has too much information and tries to share it all. Additionally, the names of people become very confusing in that people take on the names of their title. For example a man would be the Duke of York, then when he died, his son would be the Duke of York. Weir would say "York..." and it would be tough to know whether or not the switch had happened, and because there may be more than 2 people with this name through out the book, it serves to require a lot of effor to understand who was who, while reading the book. The charts at the back help, but again, it would have been nice to have a little more information to make the story easier to follow. Overall I find Alison Weir to be a great teller of history, but I were a new reader to this, I would start with The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
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