Tower: An Epic History

Written by Nigel Jones
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

This is a fascinating look at the infamous Tower of London, from its beginnings as a motte-and-bailey castle built by William the Conqueror, to be both palace and stronghold during many reigns, to the last man executed there, one Josef Jacobs, a German paratrooper who was captured and shot during WWII.

Telling the bloody story of the English nation, Tower graphically describes the horrific events that have occurred within its walls. Jones is not content to explain the process of disemboweling one time, but describes it in great detail each time an unfortunate prisoner receives the grisly sentence. There are also some debatable “facts” presented as such, though historians do not agree upon these “facts.” Case in point: he mentions a letter written by Anne Boleyn to King Henry as if there is no doubt of the letter’s authenticity. However, most historians agree than the letter is not written by Anne. There are other such details glossed over as factual when there is some debate. However, the book is written in a very engaging style and is definitely worth having as part of one’s library.