the Tower by Nigel Jones

I’m nearly finished reading this well-researched, dry-humored nonfiction work about the notorious Tower of London. There is such a torrent of names, titles and battles, from Hastings in 1066 to World War II, that I knew there was no way I’d keep them all straight. I just let go and marvelled at the imaginative, grisly forms of torture and execution down the centuries in and around the Tower. It was a royal residence for centuries, but I think the splendor is forever tarnished in most minds by all the noggins that rolled downhill. How can the Crown jewels compete with the likes of a traitor’s entrails being wound on a roller while the doomed man watches? When a plotter named Blount was enduring this very treatment back in 1400, he was asked if he wanted a drink. He replied “No for I should not know where to put it.” At what moment was the bloody notoriety of English rule supplanted by refinement and slight, polite overbites?

Long story short, a meaty historical read.


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