Still, overall I was very pleased with how polished it was. Release is getting closer all the time.
One thing that my trip to Maryland did for me, though, was that it forced me away from the computer and therefore made room for me to churn through some of the books I've been meaning to get to. Actually, I got through one book: "Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister" by Robert Hutchinson.
I can't remember where I saw the comment now that caused me to buy the book, but in the back of my mind, I had the impression that one of the author's ideas was to present a case for Cromwell being much more active in Anne Boleyn's downfall than is generally accepted. Having read the book, I don't really see that as his case; he pretty much took the standard line on the subject... to the extent that Anne even featured in the book, that is.
My biggest gripe is that the author didn't seem to know what he wanted to do. As a quick explanation, there are two extremes to historical writing, either of which is valid and useful. On the one hand, you can write for a professional audience, in which case you present a clear, logical case with copious notes and well-documented sources for any argument you present, no matter how small. The only things that are not documented are facts so universally accepted as to not be in dispute. This type of book is tedious for any but the most interested reader.
The other extreme is what is sometimes referred to as "popular history," in which the author uses notes sparingly or not at all. Often, these are written almost as a narrative or story designed to hold the attention of a reader who is potentially only mildly interested. In the latter, the book is written for a reader who will mostly assume that the author is a superior authority on the subject and so will just accept what is written as true. In the former, the audience is likely not to consider the author a superior authority on the subject and will need convincing if they are to agree with a view different from the one they already hold.
With the book in question, however, the author seemed to jump back and forth a bit too much for my preference, though he obviously tried more for the former style than the latter. As such, it's hard for me to recommend the book to a serious scholar and impossible for me to recommend for those merely interested.
"Thomas Cromwell" is certainly negative in tenor towards Cromwell, as could be gleaned from the title. This is another big sign that the author isn't entirely interested in an academic treatise, as he has no problem interjecting his opinion of the man. Oddly, however, the epilogue then credits him with several useful and even positive changes in English government. These include reformation of the tax system and a curbing of some government abuses, though the author points out that this did not extend to Cromwell himself. Indeed, Hutchinson claims that Cromwell so enriched himself, both legitimately and illegitimately, that by the end of his life he was the third richest man in England after only Henry himself and the Duke of Norfolk. (Incidentally, if the claim is true, then that would make him wealthier even than Suffolk, which would be quite the accomplishment.)
What I do find interesting is that this book seems to be one of a recent slew of offerings on the subject of Thomas Cromwell, which leads me to believe he is drawing increased interest lately. It might make an interesting juxtaposition with another recent publication, "The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant." The strange parallel in the titles, publication dates, and even the similarity of the covers make it look like two neighbors got together and decided to have a sort of mini-debate in the presses.