Synopses & Reviews
In a sparkling, fast-paced narrative, esteemed historian John Julius Norwich chronicles the turbulent events of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England that inspired Shakespeare's history plays. It was a time of uncertainty and incessant warfare, a time during which the crown was constantly contested, alliances were made and broken, and peasants and townsmen alike arose in revolt. This was the raw material of Shakespeare's dramas, and Norwich holds up his work to the light of history to ask: Who was the real Falstaff? How accurate a historian was the playwright? Shakespeare's Kings is a marvelous study of the Bard's method of spinning history into art, and a captivating portrait of the Middle Ages.
"Here is a book so charmingly written as to be difficult to put down—an historical account of Shakespeare's English Kings from Edward III to Richard III, a valuable, interesting, and very informative companion for the lover of the history plays. Insofar, it partakes of the charm of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. It is not a deeply analytical work, tormenting itself and the reader with the difficult issues of facts and art, Shakespeare's intentions, and the role these plays fulfilled in the establishment of British national identity. This will be an advantage to the generalist, little enough caviar for the specialist. As with Shakespeare himself, the author becomes engrossed in the telling of a delightful and well-researched tale and cannot be bothered to clutter it up with uncertainties. It is nonetheless true that all but the most analytical will enjoy having this volume at their elbow." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
David Bevington The Washington Times Delightful...a very readable companion to the plays.
The Washington Times
Delightful...a very readable companion to the plays.
Hans Werner The Toronto Star A lively jaunt through the rocky history of the Lancastrian kings from the time of the Hundred Years' War with France to the end of the Wars of the Roses....An indispensable tour guide next time you go down to Stratford.
Michiko Kakutani The New York Times Colorful....Lively....Turns the history of England in the Middle Ages into a tempestuous chronicle of family feuds and political machinations.
Anne Marie Welsh The San Diego Union-Tribune Magisterial...reads how the best history does: like a story.
In a fast-paced, engaging narrative, Norwich chronicles the actual events of the 14th and 15th centuries that inspired Shakespeare's history plays, from the untimely death of the heroic Black Prince and Henry Bolingbroke's ousting of Richard II to the legendary Battle of Agincourt and the notorious 18-month reign of Richard III. of full-color photos.
About the Author
John Julius Norwich is the author of A History of Venice and the renowned Byzantium trilogy. He is chairman of the World Monuments Fund in Britain and lives in London.