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Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII by [Kramer, Kyra Cornelius]
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Length: 340 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 1543 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Ash Wood Press (January 9, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 9, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00902U3RO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,520 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I think of royal families affected by medical maladies, my mind jumps immediately to the Romanovs or the Hapsburgs, not the Tudors, yet it is this latter family that is the focus of Kyra Cornelius Kramer's Blood Will Tell.

Kramer presents an interesting theory, that Henry VIII might have been kell positive and suffered from McLeod's syndrome, and supports the idea with several well known events from Henry's first two marriages to support her conclusions. The presentation, however, is not flawless.

Particularly in the king's latter years, Kramer frequently drops all pretense of suggestion and slips, referring to her suppositions as outright fact. Throughout the book she also fails to adequately address and/or discount other explanations for Henry's behavior, relying on vague blanket statements that all of Henry's other conditions could have coexisted with her diagnosis.

Most concerning, however, is the frequency at which Kramer entirely ignores Henry and focuses on the behavior and character of his wives. Perhaps I missed it, but I thought, as the title suggests, the focus of this piece was Henry's health and how it related to his policies. While the book does touch on these subjects, it also boasts a comprehensive play by play of court life over the course of his reign. To be perfectly honest I often felt Kramer lost her way and forgetting her thesis, became mired in entirely irrelevant chapters of Tudor history (i.e. the motivations behind Katherine Howard's affair with Thomas Culpeper and the regard in which the English people viewed Anne of Cleves).

My criticisms are not meant to discredit Kramer, her theory is plausible and certainly gives one reason to pause. No, I simply feel her argument might have been stronger had she approached it differently and that on the whole, the content of her work wanders from time to time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book would have been greatly improved by an explanation of the Kells' antigen and McLeod syndrome. If the central thesis of a text is that a person has a rare genetic disorder as the result of a mutation of a chromosome it makes no sense not to explain the mutation and disorder.
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By MJS on April 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
Let's face it, even by 16th century royalty standards Henry VIII was not a good husband. He was accustomed to getting his own way - absolute monarchs are like that, a bit of a romance junkie, known to sample the ladies in waiting on occasion and fixated on having a son to inherit his crown. Then there is that unfortunate habit of executing former loved ones.

Kyra Cornelius Kramer promises to explain this all to us. Which is part of the problem. When the title of a book promises an "explanation" a certain of amount of explaining is required, particularly if the explanation is medical. The average reader does not possess an advanced degree in medicine so antigens and syndromes will need to be explained. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, the author of this book chooses to give the most cursory once-over-lightly to both the all important Kell antigen and McLeod Syndrome. Is McLeod common? Rare? Hereditary? Does one inherit it from one parent? Is it recessive? Co-morbid? Fatal? You won't find any of the answers here. You won't even find a reasonably detailed explanation of its symptoms. This "explanation" doesn't get an explanation.

Given the weakness of the medical case, it is somewhat amazing that the weakest links in this thesis are Kramer's interpretation of Henry's behavior and analysis of events. She offers no evidence that Henry was any more tyrannical than his father (Henry VII) or his contemporaries. She lists the number of executions during his reign but does not compare this to what was going on elsewhere. Just to put this in context, at the same time Henry reigned Ivan the Terrible was earning his nickname Tsar in Russia and Francis I was ordering entire villages and cities destroyed on grounds of disloyalty.
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Format: Paperback
You will love this book! As an historically-informed professional performer of baroque music, I have a keen interest in the histories of European monarchies, and in particular, of those that existed prior to the 19th-century. While I have read works written on the life of Henry VIII's turbulent reign, none gave me the unique medical perspective of Kyra Cornelius Kramer's account in Blood Will Tell. Her evident expertise in medical anthropology brings to light a new reasoning behind some of the horror in the personality of Henry VII's leadership, welcoming the reader into the story with all of its drama and gore. I can highly recommend this book without reservation for its vibrant language and story-telling, and for its feminist perspective. FINALLY we are getting to learn things with an eye to the perspective of the women in this English king's life! I also especially enjoyed the chapter on medicine in Tudor life; in including such relevant contextual facts, Kramer breathes even more life into her account, and makes her explanation into a highly accessible "living" history. Kramer's thorough account of Henry's actions, his relationships in court life, symptoms, and their juxtaposition to an undeniable timeline, all contribute to this author's convincing argument. Her vivacious account proves her theory in a most entertaining and joyful fashion.
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