on 7 December 2000
This is a most honest analysis of public school life as it really was. Tyerman is in no way nostalgic, nor does he try to restore any love that may have been lost between Harrow School and the general public. His scholarly account of fraudulence, 'wife-swopping', social incapability and sexual promiscuity is well researched. One asks oneself why the governers commissioned such a book. Truth is stranger than fiction!
on 1 May 2001
This is a scholarly and impartial history of a public school. It is also a great read, vividly representing the men (they were and are always men) involved in running it. His treatment of Vaughan, Montagu Butler and the other eccentric Victorian giants of the school is particularly brilliant. Tyerman gently mocks the people who sentimentalise Harrow by showing how short their memories are, and how the reforms that the traditionalists fought to prevent are staunchly defended by their successors fifty years later. He shows a school which is always reinventing itself, mostly following Eton and fashion, but later trying to keep hold of an antiquated conservative ideal, and trying to balance this with the need to attract pupils. Scholarly, thought-provoking and enjoyable.