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Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (Penguin Press History) Paperback – 26 Sep 1991

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Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (Penguin Press History) + Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England (Penguin History)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 Sep 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140146865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140146868
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 268,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing breadth of knowledge 6 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book. I'd love to know it was possible for Keith Thomas to :

a) Read through the two-thousand or so source texts in this book.
b) Note the many thousands of quotations used in the book
c) And then pull them all together into a brisk and interesting narrative.

This is an astonishing piece of scholarship, both in terms of the massive scope of the work and the command that Thomas has over the the huge amounts of information that he has used here. He appears almost omniscient at times, such is his ability to quote from rare and obscure writings from every age. Although the title describes the scope of the book as being from 1500 to 1800, in reality the book often overspills a century or two on either side of this to point out some facet of his argument. This is a book that is built to be re-read multiple times - there is a vast amount to take in. I re-read portions of the book as soon as I had finished and was found a whole load of new quotes and observations that I hadn't noticed the first time I went over it. I wish all history books were as lively and as informative as this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 30 Oct 2013
By Didier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having previously read and immensely enjoyed both The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfilment in Early Modern England and Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England (Penguin History), I was overjoyed to discover that there was a third book published by this superb historian of the social and cultural history of early modern England. So I eagerly began reading 'Man and the natural world' as soon as the postman had delivered it on my doorstep: would it be as good as the other two?

Yes it is. It's incredible, unputdownable, brilliant, informative, learned, funny and then some. In barely 289 pages Thomas condenses what must have been a vast amount of research (there's almost a 100 pages of notes referring to all primary and secondary sources) into an easily readable and hugely informative story about how (and why) the relationship between Englishmen and the natural world changed radically between 1500 and 1800. So as I sat down to write this review I pondered: was is it then that makes these history books by Keith Thomas so special to me, and makes them in my opinion superior to many, if not most, of other history books I have read? Well, I could think of several reasons.

First of all, and this is entirely a matter of personal opinion of course, there's the subject matter. Even before I opened the book I was very curious about this relationship between man and the natural world, but that may be different with you (and needless to say there's no harm in that, just as I may be forgiven, I assume, for not having much of an interest in e.g.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars scholarship doing what it does best 11 Dec 2013
By T. Coonen - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful book doing what scholarship probably does best. It’s exactly what it says it is, a study of changing attitudes in England 1500-1800 though there’s not much 1800 in it. And for good reason, 1800 was a very different place, considerable change, much of it unlikely seeming, took place over 300 years. Keith Thomas follows general human commentary and wondering though that period to suggest the pace of change, the thrusts toward the eventual future and the obstacles and conflicts that more or less calibrate the rate of change. There’s not much theory here, mostly it’s a zillion quotes, often from people you’ve never heard of but that do seem to represent the social diversity of people, ideas, means and environmental changes. The result is not a pedantic or dogmatic book but an impressionistic look at a real people going through real changes in lifestyles, thinking, earning, law, religion, etc. All of which may sound like a fairly boring read but it’s not at all. For all the talk about it, social change is difficult, complicated, not understood and is probably beyond any understanding since it involves much more than talking and thinking. Keith Thomas very admirably, however, illustrates with a nearly sublime maturity the grounding value of taking the time to carefully look at what has changed and some of what it took for the changes to occur. In a time that endlessly and variously “calls for change” it’s a very refreshing look at the human side of long term social changes.
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