Not the Tudors.

King John: England, Magna Carta and the making of a tyrantDid anyone watch David Starkey’s Magna Carta on BBC2 a few weeks ago?

If you enjoyed the story of King John being bullied by his barons into agreeing that life, liberty and property were ‘no longer wholly at the king’s untrammelled disposal’ you might enjoy this new biography ‘King John –England, Magna Carta and the making of a tyrant’ by Stephen Church.

Billed as a definitive and ‘visceral’ biography of King John, it’s published to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The author draws on contemporary sources to tell John’s story from childhood to accession, rebellion and civil war and explains what went wrong.

Thomas Cromwell – anything like Mark Rylance?

 

Bring up the bodiesSo farewell Wolf Hall (until Hilary Mantel finishes the third part of the Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies trilogy ‘The Mirror and the Light’). Was Thomas Cromwell as enigmatic as Mark Rylance’s portrayal or was he much more a real baddie? Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's henchman

Here’s some biographies of the main protagonists ….

Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII’s henchman by Patrick Coby. Thomas Cromwell served as chief minister of Henry VIII from 1531 to 1540. Many of the momentous events of the 1530s are attributed to his agency. This biography shows the true face of a Machiavellian Tudor statesman of no equal

Thomas Cromwell: the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant by Tracy Bowman. Reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power, Thomas Cromwell was also a loving husband, father and guardian, a witty and generous host, and a loyal and devoted servant. With new insights into Cromwell’s character, his family life and his close relationships with both Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII, the book, examines the life, loves and legacy of the man who changed the shape of England forever.

Henry VIII: the life and rule of England's NeroHenry VIII: the life and rule of England’s Nero by John Matusiak. 500 years after he ascended the throne, the reputation of England’s best known king is, it seems, being rehabilitated and subtly sanitised. Here, Tudor historian John Matusiak paints an absorbingly intimate portrait of a man wholly unfit for power: his personality, his beliefs, his relationships, his follies, his hollow triumphs, his bitter disappointments.

The divorce of Henry VIII: the untold story by Catherine Fletcher. The backdrop is war-torn Renaissance Italy, combining a gripping family saga with the highly charged political battle of the Tudors & the Vatican, it reveals the extraordinary story of history’s most infamous divorce

Our man in Rome: Henry VIII and his Italian ambassador by Catherine Fletcher. Set against the backdrop of war-torn Renaissance Italy, ‘Our Man in Rome’ weaves together tales from the grubby underbelly of Tudor politics.

The creation of Anne Boleyn: in seach of the Tudors’ most notorious queen by Susan Bordo Part biography, The creation of Anne Boleyn: in search of the Tudors' most notorious queenpart cultural history, ‘The Creation of Anne Boleyn’ is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination

The Boleyns: the rise & fall of a Tudor family by D. M. Loades. The fall of Anne Boleyn and her brother George is the classic drama of the Tudor era. The Boleyns had long been an influential English family. This title tells the tale of family rivalry and intrigue set against Henry’s VIII’s court

 Mary Boleyn: ‘the great and infamous whore’ by Alison Weir Mary Boleyn: 'the great and infamous whore'Mary Boleyn is remembered by posterity as a ‘great and infamous whore’. She was the mistress of two kings, Francois I of France and Henry VIII of England and sister to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. She may secretly have borne Henry a child and it was because of his adultery with Mary that his marriage to Anne was annulled.

 Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish queen: a biography by Giles Tremlett Reformation, revolution and Tudor history would all have been vastly different without Catherine of Aragon. This biography is the first in more than four decades to be dedicated entirely to the tenacious woman. It draws on fresh material from Spain to trace the dramatic events of her life through Catherine of Aragon’s own eyes

 

Impress your friends! Check out our politics book list

The politics bookElection Day is drawing ever closer. If you’re interested in finding out more about political science, the party leaders or how the British political system works, these 10 books offer a great place to start.

Books on how it all works:

The Politics Book by Paul Kelly. Covering everything from the dawn of political thinking to modern day spin this is a brilliant choice for those who really want to dive head first into the subject. Brimming with over 100 ground-breaking ideas and masses of graphs and step by step summaries to help you get to grips with them. You’ll have facts at your fingertips after this read.

British Politics for Dummies by Julian Knight. Packed with bite sized facts and easy to follow information this is the perfect place to start if you are new to politics or simply want to brush up your knowledge in an easy to digest and entertaining way.

An introduction to the party leaders:

The Establishment and how they get away with itCameron: The Rise of the New Conservative by Francis Elliott and James Hanning. Just how did the relatively unknown Cameron rise through the Tory ranks to lead his party to government via coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010? This well researched and informative biography sets out to answer that question and give an insight into the man behind the politician.

Ed: The Millibands and the Making of a New Labour by Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre. Surely no recent party leadership battle has been as personal as that between the Milliband brothers. How Ed came to pursue the same path into politics as his older brother David and ultimately defeat him to become the next Labour Party leader is charted in this enlightening biography.

Nick Clegg: The Biography by Chris Bowers. Riding a tidal wave of popular opinion in 2010 Clegg lead his party into an unexpected coalition government with the Conservative Party. Since then he has come under widespread criticism over U-turns and broken manifesto promises. This biography charts his epic rise to become the second most powerful politician in Britain and equally epic fall from the public’s grace.

Fighting Bull by Nigel Farage. As UKIP take up more and more space on the centre stage of politics it is impossible to overlook this larger than life new fixture of the political right. This book offers a chance to find out what Farage thinks of Farage and his place in British politics today.

British politics today:

Sex Lies and the Ballot Box: 50 Things You Need to Know About British Elections by Philip Cowley and Sex, lies & the ballot box: 50 things you need to know about British electionsRobert Ford. 51 essays on how we vote and why. Examining everything from the effects of a candidate’s sex appeal on their electoral success to why so many of us lie about who we voted for. This is a thought provoking read and timely conversation starter.

Understanding British Party Politics by Stephen Driver. As the idea of a single party leadership, which for so many years dominated British Politics, seems to be drifting into a bygone age and with the country poised for another coalition government this book takes a closer look at recent events which have led to such a significant shift in voting habits and changed the political landscape as we knew it.

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition by Matthew d’Ancona. Have you ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes of the current coalition government? This book pulls back the curtain to reveal the struggles behind the smiles.

The Establishment and How They Got Away With It by Owen Jones. Just how democratic is our democracy? That’s the question Jones asks as he explores the often shadowy influence of the upper class establishment on all areas of British life from Parliament to press to banks.

Thanks to Gemma Alexander from the Information and Research Library