Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
One of the most endearing and potent symbols of England arguably stands to the east of the 21st century’s modern day London and its historic buildings, fashionable residences, iconic sporting grounds and tourist traps. The East-End characterised by the 19th century world vision of smoky-disease and crime ridden streets that even now have the sense of history haunting its streets like some macabre vengeful spectre. The Tower of London, the palace of Kings and Queens, of plots and prisoners from its inception after the Norman invasion is the subject of Norman Jones book Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London.
If a building in the country encapsulates the history of the country for the last thousand years and can be seen as the heart, the inner core of England, then The Tower of London with its blood soaked cobbles and rich history can surely be the leading contender as its beating nucleus and over 400 pages Nigel Jones concentrates completely on what makes The Tower, the stone fortress that nestles itself by the banks of the Thames, the ravenous beast and holder of men and women that has become engrained into the public’s view and leading tourist attraction.
Nigel Jones authorative voice is heard throughout the book, the sense of history that he captures as he goes from age to age, from well researched truth to positive speculation and the tiny crumbs he leaves as a trail for the reader to go on and take more interest in the comings and goings of the people who inhabited the towers. From political prisoners, 1950s gangsters, traitors German and Tudor spies and the royal family throughout its sometimes glorious but unenviably treacherous and quite often violent past, Mr. Jones not only captures the spirit of the imposing building but also of the country as well. A rare mix for historian to actually bring the world in which he is describing so marvellously to life and yet at the same feel dread for some of the more poor unfortunates who found their way into the Tower.
For anyone visiting the capital, Tower: A Epic History of The Tower of London is a must read and one that should be seen as a backdrop to anyone’s flowering interest in British and English history. A captivating experience.
Ian D. Hall