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Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London
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Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  541 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Castle, royal palace, prison, torture chamber, execution site, zoo, mint, treasure house, armoury, record office, observatory and the most visited tourist attraction in the country, the Tower of London has been all these things and more. No building in Britain has been more intimately involved in our island's story than this mighty, brooding stronghold in the very heart of ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published 2011 by Hutchinson
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3.71  · 
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 ·  541 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book ever since I first saw it on the shelves of our local Barnes and Noble for $35. This being out of my price range, I frequently checked for it at Better World Books hoping to score a cheap used copy. Failing that, it went onto my most recent Christmas wish list, and this is where I found success.

Unfortunately, this book was not what I had built it up to be. I was envisioning a detailed description from beginning to end of the Tower of London with each renovation and
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
PEOPLE OF GOODREADS: It took me a year to finish this book, and even now I don't know whyyy.

There are a LOT of A+ factoids such as:
• King Harold II's body was so wrecked by his final battle that "only his mistress could recognize it by intimate 'certain indications.'"
• "King Henry VI vanished for more than a year, leaving behind only a few pathetic belongings, including his crown and a spoon."
• Samuel Pepys "had famously already taken the precaution of burying his most valued possessions, includ
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
You all know that I am a history buff, particularly when it comes to ancient and medieval cultures. As a result, it probably wouldn't be surprised to find out that I read and enjoyed this one. Built by William the Conqueror after becoming King of England and establishing his control over the country, the Tower of London has played a major role in the governing elite in Britain since its creation.

What is amazing is the varying roles it has played. Most people know about it being a prison and plac

I enjoyed portions of this book (especially the history of the Tower menagerie and the chapter about great escapes from the Tower), but too much of it was given over to a chronological march through British history giving detailed general descriptions about each king or queen's reign but very little information actually directly related to the Tower. As a history buff, I'm already acquainted with the basic narrative of British history, and was frustrated to have to wade through basic history les
Feb 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was excited to order this book and started it the minute I pulled it from the packaging. And then bit by bit I began finding things that just bothered me. Mr. Jones tends to relate how a person of the time felt and how they said things. It annoyed me at first until I hit the chapter "The Princes, The PRotector and The Prentenders" and he goes far into more detail about Richard III then needed to be related in order to drive home what a bloodthirsty "little" king he was. And of course the sneak ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2012
I really enjoyed this book, so much that I knew before I got half way through I would reread it very soon.

Written in an easy, straight forward, consistent style, with an amazing amount of information, it would be an ideal read for anyone who intends to visit the Tower, as well as anyone who loves history. I have visited the Tower and if I get the chance again I would get a lot more out of a second visit because of this book.

Clearly a lot of research has been invested in this book, 400 pages of s
This was a history of the Tower of London starting from the time it was built by William the Conquer to the twentieth century.It takes you through the reigns of each of England's kings and queens while describing how the tower was used by each monarch.Some rebuilt it,demolished it,lived in it and used it for war while others used it as a prison and torture chamber.Also discussed at length are the many famous prisoners that have passed through over the centuries.Gossipy and biased at points I fel ...more
Lauren Albert
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-british
I thought Jones rather lost the Tower quite frequently during detours through British history. Now, I realize that excursions through British history are necessary to understand events related directly to the Tower, but I did sometimes forget that the book was about the Tower at all. Now, I think it would be a good general introduction to British history only the book's format (thematic) and its consequent jumps back and forth in time would make it confusing for someone looking for an introducti ...more
Amanda R
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Ugh, such a disappointment.

Part of it was not the book's fault. What I'm really looking for is a history of the structure itself, and this is more a history of England as it relates to the Tower. The problem is that there was loads of minutiae about various reigns but a strange lack of detail about the Tower. Like, here are the thousand million things that this king did, oh and at some point they built another curtain wall, and also there was a palace in there for a minute, now more about the to
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
I've recently finished reading Tower and was completely blown away. Mr Jones made history come alive as he told a history of post Norman England through the eyes of the Tower itself. The descriptions of the various occupants of the Tower were so vivid that the reader was almost transported back in time where we could almost be an eye witness to the events as they happened.

Mr Jones created a page turner which I had trouble putting down at night and actually cost me many hours of sleep. As I have
Brenda Osborne
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining account of the goings-on in The Tower throughout the ages. It was interesting to read about the many people who tried to escape from the infamous tower. My favorite was the man who successfully escaped disguised as a woman. You also find out about the MANY political prisoners who were held and beheaded because they backed the wrong king or just got on their monarch's bad side. The worst king in my opinion was James I;what a terrible person. Anyway if you love reading about Brit ...more
An enjoyable read, at times heavy on details and other times light. The language style is very sensational, but that is not unusual for history books these days. While I was familiar with many of the stories (much of it centered in the medieval time period), there was plenty I had not heard before. I wasn't a fan of the way the chapters were split up, with there being a lot of seemingly needless jumping around. Overall, a ton of information written in an engaging fashion.
Sarah u
Inaccurate, sensationalist and silly. The only chapter with any historical merit is The Menagerie and the Mint, everything else is grossly exaggerated at best, hideously inaccurate at worst. I was sorely disappointed with this book.
Rose Ann
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
Well, he does tell the story of the Tower of London vividly, but I stopped when he got to Richard III. He has evidently swallowed the Kool-Aid of the Richard-haters. He didn't even try to be subtle about it. So I quit reading.
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Some parts were good--others not so much. A ton of British history...
Edward Sullivan
A thoroughly engaging, vividly detailed and richly layered epic history that is as much a history of England as it as about the infamous Tower of London.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fiction snob, I was honestly and very pleasantly amazed by how much I enjoyed this book. So often I feel as though reading nonfiction is a chore, something I make myself do to so that I can say I'm well-rounded, but this book swept me up and along. I loved reading all the little stories of different people who'd lived in and around the tower--Jones definitely tells a good story, and the Tower of London has more than its fair share of them. Definitely changed my whole outlook on the place th ...more
Erin Zelnio
I couldn’t go on after the author referred to Henry VIII as “England’s Stalin.” I was tempted to give this book only one star, but, believe it or not, I have read histories that were worse.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of editorializing when it comes to popular history, so long as it doesn’t go overboard. And yes, many of people the author discuss were—by all our standards and maybe even a few of their own—pretty awful. However, the author goes too far, becoming more and more salacious with e
Bill Thompson
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book as part of the research for a novel I'm writing. It filled the bill perfectly in that regard, but I was enthralled by the story Nigel Jones wove. Many times when I'm looking for specific information, I skip from place to place, but I have to admit I read this one cover to cover and enjoyed every minute.
Okay, I'll agree with other reviewers that it had a lot of names and a lot of dates, but as a history buff and a great lover of London, I found it very interesting. After all, a
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If places hold memories, than the Tower of London is one of the most haunted. Jones tells the story of feudal England to the 20th century through the Tower’s turrets and walls. It’s a fascinating site that has gone through various iterations. A fortress, a home, a prison, a mint, a treasury, an armory and, on more than occasion, a murder scene. The men and women who have walked through its gates have been some of the most colorful in British history.

At times, the writing seems disjointed and cob
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine McClelland
Though a really fun read, I can't get give book more then three stars because the author gets confused about some of the monarchs and what happens when. I also don't like the authors biases against say Henry VIII and Charles I.

Also when the author talks about the execution of King Charles I he gives a name of the executioner. Well, it is pretty well established that the name of Charles's executioner is lost to history due impart to the fact the regular executioner would not kill his King so a s
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Fleshed out version of C. Hibbert so some of it seemed repetitive. I had been expecting a better, more comprehensive selection of illustrations. I did enjoy the author's humor and airing of his prejudices.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The book would have been better if it was laid out chronologically instead of my subject (animal menagerie, escapes, etc). It was a little hard to keep track of the individuals as many have the same title or name.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The writing style was easy to read but this book felt awfully bloated. It wasn't so much a history of the Tower of London, so much as a history of England with references to the Tower. Good book, just not for me
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read.

Very readable. Covers the full gamut of the Tower's amazing history. Full of fascinating anecdotes. A must read for any English history buff.
Charlene Dean
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Pretty good overview of the Tower and its history. Some of the author's biases did show (e.g. Richard III) which I personally didn't appreciate. Like to form my own opinions.
Emilie Weidl
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The parts about torture and executions were really great, but it dragged in the last hundred pages or so. Really enjoyed the first part as well.
Picked this book up because I am addicted to all things related to the Tower of London. Unfortunately, I think I have read too much because there wasn't too much I hadn't read before. Also, the Tower doesn't feature all that heavily in the book, its mainly an overview of English royal history that is tangentially related to the Tower. I did enjoy reading about all the escapes and some of the non-royal prisoners I hadn't read about before. If you haven't read a lot about the Tower or English roya ...more
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I was very disappointed. The title suggests that this book is about the Tower of London when it is actually about events that occurred in and around the Tower of London. As the Tower was at the center of English government for seven or eight centuries, that makes this just another book skimming over English history.

I have been to the Tower of London three times and the next time I am in London, I plan to go again. As someone with an idea of what the building looks like, there were portions of th
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