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Thomas Cromwell

A Life
Narrated by: David Rintoul
Length: 26 hrs and 38 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
Non-member price: $42.54
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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Thomas Cromwell by Diarmid MacCulloch, read by David Rintoul. 

Thomas Cromwell is one of the most famous - or notorious - figures in English history. Born in obscurity in Putney, he became a fixer for Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. After Wolsey's fall, Henry VIII promoted him to a series of ever greater offices, and by the end of the 1530s he was effectively running the country for the King. That decade was one of the most momentous in English history: it saw a religious break with the Pope, unprecedented use of parliament, the dissolution of all monasteries. Cromwell was central to all this, but establishing his role with precision, at a distance of nearly five centuries and after the destruction of many of his papers at his own fall, has been notoriously difficult. 

Diarmaid MacCulloch's biography is much the most complete and persuasive life ever written of this elusive figure, a masterclass in historical detective work, making connections not previously seen. It overturns many received interpretations, for example that Cromwell was a cynical, 'secular' politician without deep-felt religious commitment, or that he and Anne Boleyn were allies because of their common religious sympathies - in fact he destroyed her. It introduces the many different personalities of these foundational years, all conscious of the 'terrifyingly unpredictable' Henry VIII. MacCulloch allows listeners to feel that they are immersed in all this, that it is going on around them. 

For a time, the self-made 'ruffian' (as he described himself) - ruthless, adept in the exercise of power, quietly determined in religious revolution - was master of events. MacCulloch's biography for the first time reveals his true place in the making of modern England and Ireland, for good and ill.

©2018 Diarmaid MacCulloch (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"This is the biography we have been awaiting for 400 years." (Hilary Mantel) 

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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful read and researched

A daunting historical read made wonderfully engrossing and powerful through its writing and voice actor

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-10-2018

Impressive & worthwhile listening experience

An entertaining and well-researched biography of one of the most interesting and influential men of English history. The narration was magnificent too. Loved it. Bravo!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Campesque
  • 21-12-2018

Enormously interesting and very entertaining.

A very enjoyable journey through Tudor politics and religion with one of the most intriguing characters of the period. Saint or sinner? Devoted royal servant or brazen chancer? This book throws some light onto a very complex man.

Although long, this book is fast paced and I enjoyed the author's dry humour. I will be seeking out his other titles.

The narrator of this audiobook was perfect for the job - very easy listening.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 01-10-2018

Excellent, informative biography

I wonder if even the English understand the events of their confused and bloodthirsty “reformation”? Hilary Mantel’s novels have certainly whetted my appetite for this era in their history.
This is a witty and intelligent biography, well narrated by David Rintoul (as always), full of interesting anecdote and insights into the bizarre reign of the narcissistic, unpredictable, avaricious and vindictive Henry VIII, who had, unfortunately, more than 4/8 years to impose his changeable whims.
I feel I comprehend much more about the origins of the Anglican Church, which I found mysterious (as a Presbyterian turned Catholic).
MacCullough is unbiased in his account; he reveals the faults of his subject, and admits the better attributes of Cromwell’s enemies.
Thomas Cromwell was evidently a man of great ability, given the extent and length of his service to a very touchy, cruel and capricious king. (I can just imagine Henry VIII’s Twitter account; fortunately communication was slower then, but the penalties for incurring his wrath were deadly.)
I’m going to listen again soon- there were some memorable phrases I want to preserve.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • E P
  • 04-02-2019

Accessible Tudor History without gore

Most Tudor histories become fascinated by the execution and the axe, this biography concentrates on Cromwell’s considerable achievements in religion, administration, politics that amazingly remain unaltered for centuries.
Religious controversy usually incomprehensible to the modern eye is explained in simple unpatronising language