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In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past [Paperback]

Michael Wood
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Oct 2000

Where does the idea of England and Englishness come from? Can we see it beginning in the Dark and Middle Ages? Michael Wood tackles these fascinating questions in two ways. First, with a series of pieces on famous English myths. And secondly by looking at the history of half a dozen places in England: a farmhouse on Dartmoor, a battlefield in Sheffield, a medieval village near Leicester... By these means he describes the origins of a sense of Englishness, and how it has developed through the centuries.

"The book triumphs... His England is both a real place and an invented community which has proved its worth" TLS

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New edition edition (26 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140247335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140247336
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Michael Wood studied Anglo-Saxon history at Oriel College, Oxford. He has since made over 60 films including most recently In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great for BBC-2, which was also a number one bestseller for BBC Books. He lives in London NW3 with his wife and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In search of England (Michael Wood) 18 Sep 2003
Just echoing Colin's review. Although I've only read the first three essays it's crystal clear that this is another wonderful book by Michael Wood. Of all the 'history' books I've read only Michael Wood has the ability and boundless enthusiasm to fully pull me in and not let go. The essays ranging from King Arthur to Robin Hood have been superb; the fact that Mr Wood pulls comments from Monty Python only adds to my total enjoyment.
While the subject may sound dusty dry & boring even if you're not interested in history give your brain a treat & get hold of this or any of Michael Wood's books.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Although I love history, the Anglo-Saxons have done little for me. However, this book is changing all that. This is a compelling and highly accessible series of essays which, like Michael Wood's TV programmes, sweep you along in their enthusiasm and sheer pleasure of each subject. The essays are built around three themes: myth; manuscripts and mysteries; and landscape and people. The "myth" essays, which tackle issues like the Norman Yoke, King Arthur, and Robin Hood, may not break new ground but set out what scholars do know crisply and comprehensively. The book really starts to fly when Michael Wood delves into specific local stories - a psalter in the British library, a farmhouse in Devon, a village in Leicestershire - and brings the history of England alive. There is real power and compassion in, for example, his account of the Jarrow of Bede.
Of the many books around at present which seek to define England and Englishness, this will take some beating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a collection of essays, unconnected with any television series. Wood is after all as much a historian in his own right as a `mere' presenter of historical documentaries. In this collection, he returns to a theme covered in previous books, especially his `In Search of the Dark Ages' and his `Domesday Quest', in which he seeks to discover the essence of Englishness. What is it about England's - Britain's - modern day society that can be connected specifically to events and developments in medieval England?

In his introduction writes Wood, "This book looks at some aspects of what one might call the Matter of England. It is a series of stories which directly or indirectly, touch on some questions of English history and identity and the transmission of tradition ... The book is a miscellany, then, but which I hope adds up to more than a sum of its parts ... My emphasis is in the Early Middle Ages, the ninth and tenth centuries, when the English state was created, and when certain crucial elements became apparent in the English identity."

Over the length of its more than three hundred pages, Wood's book does not address this `Matter of England' directly. Instead, he focuses on particular aspects of medieval England in its broadest sense as test-pits, as it were, on the wider archaeo-historical enterprise. Rather than a full excavation, then, this is a series of slices through some ruinous and partly-hidden remains of the past. Wood remarks that if the devil is in the detail, so are the angels. Wood undertakes his search by way of fifteen chapters. These are split into three parts: myths, texts, landscapes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 2 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Readable, informative, exciting, everything you'd expect from Michael Wood. He brings dull manuscripts to life, history so close you can almost touch it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An easy read 15 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As usual Michael Wood uses none confusing language, his books are so easy and enjoyable to read, and at the end, you will understand what it all been about.
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