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Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII Hardcover – July 8, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
And that's just the beginning. Through out the book, Starkey will interrupt his own historical narrative with the "I" point of view, citing facts or anecdotes that *he* has found that other historians have "overlooked" or "ignored" or "misinterpreted." Examples: p. 447, "In fact, though much has been made of St. German by some modern historians, his ideas fell at the first fence." From p. 435, "Here it is important to be clear about Henry's developing strategy. From the moment of the failure of the Blackfriar's trial, it had been taken for granted that an English verdict on the Divorce would somehow have to be sanctioned by Parliament. There is no mystery about this, as some modern historians like to claim." These are only two of many, many instances where Starkey pats himself on the back about how brilliant he is, and how everyone else has gotten it so, so wrong. He claims to be the only one to have properly identified Catherine Howard's and one of Catherine Parr's portraits.Read more ›
What probably rankled above and beyond the boringness of the book and the time lost reading it - hoping in vain to find at least one chapter to spur me on enticingly to the next chapter - was Starkey's introduction. It seems he has not encountered the whole truth and nothing but the truth in previous research on the subject of Henry VIII's wives, and he made no bones about pooh-poohing (or is it poo-pooing) previous authors' research and, by God, giving us the Gospel on same. Left a really bad taste in my mouth. Smugness always does.
Mr. Starkey, please get over yourself, really.
Readers, you be the judges. Better yet, get a hot cup of milk, climb into bed with this book and start your engines....works better than Sominex.
First, as an academic myself I was stunned by the extent to which Starkey's scholarship is biased, subjective and speculative. He blithely makes racist comments about other cultures (the Spanish are "instutionalized sadists," for example). Evidence that is accepted by other writers he dismisses out of hand, while other, more dubious sources that are not normally consulted he accepts without question. Ideas that start out as speculation are facts a few chapters later. Starkey may be a respected historian, but this is not a good piece of scholarship.
Most significantly, he seems unable to put these women into an historic context. He doesn't appear to appreciate what it was like to be a woman, without legal powers, who attracted the attention of a ruthless and brutal king. For instance, he characterizes Ann Boleyn as manipulative. Maybe she was intelligent enough to realize that if she refused the King, she and her family would suffer the loss of their wealth and possibly their lives. The best she could do was to hold out for marriage which at least gave her some legitimacy. Starkey's failure to appreciate the brutal reality of women's lives at this point in history is a huge handicap in writing their biographies.
The research was poor and seems like it was done entierly by reading Antonia Frasier books (whose research he then disses in the first pages of the book... NOT cool, dude) and taking a class in pop psychology. He openly admits to making things up and is constantly putting words in his subjects' mouths: "That day in the spring of 1489 at Medina del Campo-- was it, perhaps, Catherine's earliest memory?" Who cares? Does it matter? Why completely invent an "earliest memory" for a historical figure that you are purporting to write a biography of?
I am shocked at the number of positive reviews that this book has recieved. Who is writing them, anyway? I know that ballot-stuffing is a problem on Amazon, but how can anyone get though an 800 page book that reads like a second grade primer? Every third sentence begins with "And," "But," or "Actually," he makes up or mis-uses words on every page, the punctuation is abysmal, and the number of three word sentences is truly apalling. This is an actual example of his writing, chosen from a page at random as I wrote this review:
"In the middle of the celebrations, howerver, came terrible news. The Infante Juan was seriously ill. Ferdinand rode furiously back to Valladolid. But Juan died."
If you are interested in this subject at all, go straight to the source and check out the Frasier book on the subject. For a slightly easier read, without dumbed-down content, try the Alison Weir. But do not, under any circumstances, buy this book for someone unless you want to purposely insult their intelligence. It is completely unreadable and offers EXTREMELY dubious history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The lines of the story kept going back and forth. Plenty of times, I just lost interest. Not normal for me as an avid reader.Published 6 months ago by lander "landersgirl"
David Starkey's "Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII" is a detailed look into the history & lives of the 6 women who would be the wife of England's Henry VIII. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Paul L.
brillaint. I thought I knew most of the wives of King Henry the Eight but, it was brilliant. I loved every minute of it. Thank you. Regards Melissa Maroney. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Melissa Maroney
This is one of the few books, ever, which I couldn't finish. It is dull and didn't hold my attention.Published 23 months ago by John Smith