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The Princes in the Tower
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on April 26, 2015
I've read several books about Richard III and the murder of the princes. Some were non-fiction like this and others just historical fiction. If you are interested in a factual breakdown and objective analysis of the mysterious disappearance of the sons of Edward IV then this is the first book you should read. Ricardians won't like it because Weir states upfront that she believes that Richard III is by far the most likely murderer. Her conclusion is strongly supported by volumes of circumstantial evidence which she presents in a methodical and logical fashion. Unless one deliberately overlooks one of the crucial pieces of information it is hard to come up with a more likely suspect. Of course no one can ever know for sure but in my opinion this is the very best exploration of the facts.
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on September 14, 2017
This author presents a thorough and richly detailed history weaving information from solid sources together with an intelligent interpretation of the motivations and needs of Richard III and Henry Tudor. One comes to understand the positions of both monarchs and why they acted as they did.
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on February 26, 2018
A fascinating account of the disappearance of the sons of Edward IV. All evidence seems to point to Richard III as the an behind their murder and the author makes her case in a very compelling fashion. Anyone interested in British history should read this book.
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on July 12, 2017
note: read her 'wars of the roses' first. it gives a magnificent overview of the background and players in these wars.....

this book falls woefully short of other works. it is decidedly anti-richard. this colors the narrative throughout, but is
especially virulent when it comes to the usurpation and later death of the princes. for example, when describing when
richard initiated his nefarious plot, the author starts at the 9th of june to show that his actions prove he has decided to
usurp the princes. he contacts hastings to sound him out. then on 10 june, he orders troops from northern england.
from there the plot thickens. HOWEVER, she leaves out the bombshell that occurred on 8 june, which precipitated these
actions. re-read the chapter after knowing the date of the revelation that edward's marriage was invalid and the whole
atmosphere changes. richard's actions are now the actions of someone who was blind-sided on the 8th and began taking
radical action to deal with the problem.
i'm not going to go through the whole richard iii villain or victim issue here, but the author's bias shows to much.
an important caveat - the author does oftentimes give data that can be used against her view. many others would severly slant
or even omit inconvenient facts to bolster their point. if you are looking, you can get enough data to support an alternate opinion.
overall, a good read, if you are careful.
ps - i think he probably did it.
pps - after reading about perkin warbeck, there is a good chance that richard ordered the deaths, but the younger prince was spared by
the executioner.
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on October 17, 2013
The Princes in the Tower / B007I5QO50

I am very fond of Alison Weir's histories, and have an interest in the Princes in the Tower, so I expected to enjoy this historical account, even knowing that it is several years old now (and now somewhat out of date since Richard III's bones have been disinterred from the car park). Having read this book twice -- both before and after the disinterment -- I am perfectly satisfied that it lives up to Weir's tradition of excellent writing and engrossing scholarship.

This is one of Weir's shorter books, and it is possible to whip through the material fairly quickly. She starts by outlining her sources and their nearness to the matter and what she means by "contemporary", since the scholarly material spans a large period; she also scrupulously identifies the biases and shortcomings of her sources, and then explains *her* view on their accuracy in light of that. It is left as an exercise to the reader to decide whether or not to accept her view, and I appreciate that the decisions made by historians in the search for truth are open and exposed to the reader for them to make their own choices.

Weir then traces the circumstances surrounding the birth of the princes, the controversial choice of their mother (Elizabeth Wydville) as queen, the subsequent alienation of many members of court at being replaced in the King's favor by a family seen as ignoble and greedy, and the events which occurred immediately following Edward IV's death and how Richard III was able to quickly imprison the new child king (Edward V) through a swift and brutal campaign of terror.

Weir outlines the contemporary rumors and beliefs of both foreign royalty and common Londoners, and makes the case that Richard's contemporaries certainly believed it very plausible that he had the princes murdered (though some, as with Louis XI, believed the princes were dead or as-good-as-dead a few days earlier than Weir believes the actual event occurred -- an understandable mistake on Louis XI's part since the precise date of the murder wasn't heralded from the Tower with trumpets). These contemporary beliefs are laid out scrupulously in order to point out that Tudor propaganda cannot be entirely to blame for Richard's grim reputation, not when his pre-Tudor contemporaries already believed him guilty. Once again, it is left to the reader to balance how much weight to give these beliefs, but I personally feel that Weir makes a convincing argument for the case that Richard is the most plausible responsible party for the deaths of the Princes.

I was initially puzzled by the number of poor reviews on the book. Having now read the book twice, along with several negative reviews, I have to strongly agree with a previous review (MS) who stated that "Many of the criticisms I've read in other reviews are based on isolated paragraphs which have either been misunderstood or taken out of context." For Louis XI to believe, a few days earlier than the date proposed by Weir for the murder, that Richard either had or would soon murder the Princes does not point to a scholarly error with dates; Louis XI's suspicions are mentioned only to underscore contemporary beliefs, and not in support of the date of the murder. And for Margaret Beaufort to be able to convince Elizabeth Wydville of her sons' death, but for Henry VII to still retain a small doubt, years after his failure to find the bodies, is in no way something to marvel at in my opinion -- these differences in the perspectives of Elizabeth Wydville and Henry VII reflect the realities and context of their lives as a grieving mother and an insecure king. For some reviewers to seize on these as somehow "proofs" of poor scholarship make me very dubious.

In summary, I believe this is an engrossing and relatively quick read to the subject, and I strongly recommend it to fans of Weir's other work. I appreciate that Weir clearly lays out the flaws in the available sources and guides the reader through her decision-making process, so that engaging readers may choose to make different choices. And I believe that a number of the so-called errors and contradictions in this work seem to me to be entirely plausible when considering the nuances of the personalities and political realities involved in this historical period.

~ Ana Mardoll
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on March 3, 2018
I really enjoyed this book. Every point is backed up with contemporary evidence and logic. Other points of view have been considered and investigated. Educational and entertaining.
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on March 22, 2018
pertect as expected
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on August 12, 2017
Good, solid scholarship. Alison Weir deals handily with the Richard III apologists and cites her sources. It held my interest throughout.
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on August 22, 2017
I'll start by saying this a thoroughly researched book with top notch information. I really do enjoy Weir's style of writing as well. My issue is that she seemed biased early on towards the belief of Richard being their murder and this seemed more like a book of just backing that up. Though her information is accurate there are some lingering questions such as truly, why would Richard, who valued how others viewed him , murder his two nephews ? He already had them in his clutches and had made himself king. They were bastardized . Why would he kill them when it would only further alienate people in general and also what supporters he was trying to hold onto. Also there is quite a bit of information that shows Buckingham had ample opportunity to either murder them himself or have it done and to be honest he had much more to gain than Richard from it. Worth the read still , at least for me. But that isnt the only side to the story.
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on October 18, 2012
The author presents very well researched historical chronicle of the time of "The Princes" lives, and the immediate aftermath, up to the Battle of Bosworth Field. In the matter of the enduring mystery of the fate of the princes, compelling conclusions are drawn based on circumstantial evidence, and the author attempts to disprove alternate theories. To a small degree, the author may in effect belittle some well thought out alternate interpretations of the evidence, but this does not detract from the quality of the assessment provided.

For the most part, the book is written in an easy to read manner, although I did find the first couple of chapters a bit challenging to follow - perhaps I was just a bit distracted personally. This is just a note that the book takes a fair bit of concentration to follow and not any complaint about its overall quality. It seemed to flow more easily as the chapters went by. Almost like a novel of intrigue and treachery, one gets caught up in the "plot" of this true story of our history, and the book becomes difficult to put down.
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