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The Brothers York

An English Tragedy
Narrated by: Roy McMillan
Length: 23 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: History, British
5 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

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Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Brothers York by Thomas Penn. 

In early 1461, a teenage boy won a battle on a freezing morning in the Welsh marches and claimed the crown of England. He was Edward IV, first king of the usurping house of York. The country, crippled by economic crisis, insurgency and a corrupt and bankrupt government, was in need of a new hero. 

Charismatic, able and ruthlessly ambitious, Edward and his two younger brothers, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, became the figureheads of a spectacular ruling dynasty which laid the foundations for a renewal of English royal power. Yet a web of grudges and resentments grew between them, generating a destructive sequence of conspiracy, rebellion, deposition, usurpation and murder. The brutal end came on 22 August 1485 at Bosworth Field, with the death of the youngest brother, then Richard III, at the hands of a new usurper, Henry Tudor. 

The Brothers York is the story of three remarkable brothers, two of whom were crowned kings of England and the other an heir presumptive, whose fatal antagonism was fuelled by the mistrust and vendettas of the age that brought their family to power. The house of York should have been the dynasty that the Tudors became. Its tragedy was that it devoured itself. 

©2019 Thomas Penn (P)2019 Penguin Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fifteenth Century dynastic unravelling!

A good old narrative history, well researched, well written and well read. Penn has revealed the characters of the Plantagenet brothers in all their ambition, hubris, magnificence and absolute ruthlessness extremely well. Most students of the period will be familiar with the main events of the era, but the author draws our attention in meticulous detail to the influence of the Medici banking organisation in financing European Monarchs as well as walking us through Edward’s tortuous path to a Burgundian alliance, culminating in the epic scrap between Anthony Woodville and The Bastard of Burgundy. What would you give to have had a front row seat at that “friendly” encounter?

I would recommend this Audible book to anyone interested in this era of history.

5 people found this helpful

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an excellent and insightful book

this book was an easy listen. I found myself understanding the major characters much more than I had from previous non fiction books covering the period. Thinking about it, perhaps that is because the book allows events to unfold for the players as they might have seen them, and not just for the most senior or important people. After all, they did not live in a vacuum, and in drawing their world, and allowing them to move around in it, their motivation as well as their actions are much easier to understand. I had only ever seen Richard III in quite simplistic terms as a loyal brother and uncle who suddenly turned into a tyrannical usurper, and not because of the Shakespearean portrayal of him. Clarence had never appeared to me as a fully rounded character, and nor had Edward if I'm honest. I really enjoyed the book and I learned a lot. It stayed with me afterwards and I ordered The Winter King afterwards.

4 people found this helpful

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Perfect.

Really engaging writing with a fantastic & entertaining sense of style, brilliantly performed by a reader who makes every sentence pop and just brings everything to life. Both author and reader have deffinitely sprung into my favourites.

3 people found this helpful

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Tudor propaganda again

I did enjoy this book overall but became increasingly disappointed once it reached Richard III's reign. Perhaps not surprising from the author of "The Winter King" who seemed more interested in Henry Tudor than Richard. All the usual Tudor propaganda was brought out. Wasn't the often quoted Thomas More about 5 years old at the time? And Shakespeare's famous portrayal of Richard was always going to discredit Richard and appease his Tudor queen. Also Ferdinando Stanley, Shakespeare’s patron, was the direct descendant of Thomas Stanley, the latter being the step father of Henry Tudor.
Well read by Roy McMillan and should appeal to anyone interested in English history.

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really well researched

Really enjoyed the book, which is very well researched, well written and read well. My only minor gripe is I would have liked a bit more on the women , Elizabeth Woodvillle, Cicely, Anne Neville etc...all very shadowy characters though maybe this reflects lack of information available and a sign of those times.

1 person found this helpful

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Tudor Times

Loved this book. The story was well written and the narration is first class. Will listen to it again and would recommend it. I will be looking for more from this author and the narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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Very informative

very informative and very well put together. The book went well not a lot of deal and was very well resirched.
The notation was very well matched.

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  • MR
  • 22-02-20

Sparkling historical writing

Superlative narrative writing based on thorough research by a leading new historian of the period. Roy McMillan's engaged performance makes it a gripping listen. The story with its brutally gory details has much to tell today's audience about life in an environment where law is dictated by naked political power.

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Gripping story of the House of York

This is a magnificently written (and narrated) work of history. I was really looking forward to listening to this newest work by Thomas Penn, having loved The Winter King, and I am happy to say I was not disappointed. I have always felt that too little attention has been paid to the House of York and the reasons for its successes and ultimate failure and I feel that oversight has been rectified by this wonderful book. I came away with a new understanding of some historical figures particularly King Edward IV. I would highly recommend this audiobook

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Superb in both history and story-telling

I found this history to be both rigorous and engaging, which is a hard trick to pull off. For people who read history all the time, it's incredibly well-sourced, weaving the original documents into the narrative seamlessly, and bringing the original authors to life in the narrative. For people who just want the story, it might move a bit slowly, but it's worth the effort.

The Wars of the Roses is a subject I have done a number of deep dives into, but I still learned a lot from this, particularly about England's role in Europe at the time. Most books on the period tend to concentrate on England alone, or give broad overviews. This one dives into the details to a level that seemed extraordinary, at points feeling like it was giving a day-by-day account of events. I always felt that the author had a grip on both the big and small pictures, and told the story in a way I could really follow.

Highly recommended, particularly if you're looking for something to bridge the gap between 'popular' and 'academic' history books.