Friday, July 13, 2012

History with a Dash of DNA

The Last Days of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill

Summary: A new and uniquely detailed exploration of Richard’s last 150 days explores these events from the standpoint of Richard himself and his contemporaries. By deliberately avoiding the hindsight knowledge that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth Field, this book presents a new Richard—no passive victim, awaiting defeat and death, but a king actively pursuing his own policies and agenda. It also reexamines the aftermath of Bosworth—the treatment of Richard’s body, his burial, and the construction of his tomb. Based on newly discovered evidence and wider insights it explores the motives underlying these events. And there is the fascinating story of why and how Richard III’s DNA was rediscovered, alive and well, and living in Canada. This is a stimulating and thought-provoking account of the end of Richard’s life—even readers very familiar with his short life will discover a new and fascinating picture of him.

Review: A very short book that adds little to my understand of Richard III.

I knew very little about Richard III before reading this book and this book did not enlighten me. I knew that this book would only focus on a small part of his life, but I was expecting more information than I was given. I suppose that there might not be that many sources from that time so that might account for the lack of information. Ashdown-Hill does a good job of providing another view of Richard, a view that seems more likely than the evil man that Richard III is traditionally portrayed as. 

Ashdown-Hill provides a number of similar examples when direct evidence is not available, but it gets annoying after a while since he does in almost every case where examples are lacking. It does provide a good background though. I felt the part about Richard III's DNA added nothing to the book and I skimmed over that part of the book. I am still interested in finding more about Richard III so I will be reading other books to gain more knowledge. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are already knowledgeable about Richard III otherwise you might be lost.

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