The White Ship

The White Ship : Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I's Dream

4.11 (961 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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'As gripping as any thriller. History doesn't get any better than this' BILL BRYSON
'A brilliant read ... Game of Thrones but in the real world' ANTHONY HOROWITZ

The sinking of the White Ship in 1120 is one of the greatest disasters England has ever suffered. In one catastrophic night, the king's heir and the flower of Anglo-Norman society were drowned and the future of the crown was thrown violently off course.

In a riveting narrative, Charles Spencer follows the story from the Norman Conquest through to the decades that would become known as the Anarchy: a civil war of untold violence that saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a desperate game of thrones. All because of the loss of one vessel - the White Ship - the medieval Titanic.

'Highly enjoyable' Simon Heffer
'Brilliant' Dan Jones
'Fascinating' Tom Bower

The #2 Sunday Times bestseller on Sunday 18 June 2021
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 159 x 240 x 33mm | 600g
  • William Collins
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0008296804
  • 9780008296803
  • 64,536

Review quote

'How a drunk teenager shipwrecked the monarchy ... As colourful and racy narrative history goes, this absolutely gallops ... Whips through a hundred years of complex history from the Norman Conquest to Henry II' Daily Mail

'Rooted in the medieval chronicles, but crafted like a Hollywood thriller. Spencer is one of the finest narrative historians around'
Mail on Sunday

'Charles Spencer is a gifted storyteller ... Pivoted on one single, tragic winter evening. It is an event and a period of history that should be better known, and now it will be'
The Times

'Spencer proves himself more than a match for the story. He guides the reader well through the dramatic twists and turns of these years, which first placed Henry on the throne, then seemed set to deny the succession of his progeny. Spencer has a particularly good eye for detail, enriching his account with vivid pen-portraits of the main players ... Fast-paced and immensely enjoyable'
Literary Review

'Neglected by popular historians, [Henry I] ... has found a master storyteller in Charles Spencer ... rooted in excellent historical research ... a lyrical, vivid and compelling portrait. He succeeds in bringing to life huge characters from nearly a millennium ago'

'An exhilarating narrative full of incident and insight. Here is the story, marvellously told, of the post-Conquest kings - and one almost-queen - of England: unpredictable, violently dramatic, and never less than compelling' Helen Castor

'Told with verve and an exceptional eye for detail, this is the story of how a single catastrophe changed the course of British history forever. Dramatic, compelling and utterly addictive'
Tracy Borman

'The medieval Titanic ... Charles Spencer explores with brilliance ... the gripping, tragic story of the White Ship ... and brings it to vivid and thrilling life in this superb book'
Kate Williams
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About Charles Spencer

Charles Spencer was educated at Eton College and obtained his degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a reporter on NBC's Today show from 1986 until 1995, and is the author of seven books, including the Sunday Times bestsellers Blenheim: Battle for Europe (shortlisted for History Book of the Year, National Book Awards) and Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.
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Rating details

961 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 35% (337)
4 45% (429)
3 17% (161)
2 3% (28)
1 1% (6)
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