Thursday, 13 December 2012

FACTUAL REVIEW: Thomas Beckett - John Guy

Release Date: 05/04/12


From the winner of the 2004 Whitbread Biography Award and the Marsh Biography Award John Guy, comes Thomas Becket, a lively and enlightening new study that brings a colossal figure of British history vividly to life.

Behind the legend, there was a man.

In 1120 the wife of a Norman draper's merchant gave birth to a baby boy in London's bustling Cheapside. Despite his sickly constitution, middle-class background and unremarkable abilities, he rose within the space of thirty-five years to become the most powerful man in the kingdom, second only to Henry II himself.

At his height, he led seven hundred knights into battle, brokered peace between nations, held the ear of the Pope and brought one of the strongest rulers in Christendom to his knees. And within three years of his bloody assassination, he was a saint whose cult had spread the length and breadth of Europe, and a legend who remains as controversial and compelling today as he was during his life.

The story of Thomas Becket is the story of an enigma, as well as of one of the most tumultuous periods in English history. Drawing on a vast array of contemporary records, personal letters and first-hand accounts, John Guy has reconstructed a psychologically compelling, stunningly nuanced and utterly convincing account of this most remarkable man, the dramatic times in which he lived and the pivotal role he played in his nation's history.


I’m a huge reader and to be honest with a strange family connection to the subject of the title I really did want to find out more about him. I know the basics of his passing and angering the king but finding out about his childhood and how things shaped the man to come was definitely worth spending the time delving into and discovering.

Whilst a certain percentage of this is supposition based on historical research you can only get so close to a person without interviewing them in person. As such John Guy has done a solid job of making Thomas Becket come to life for any reader of this title. All in a solid book and one I’m pleased I took the time to read.

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