I attest that the copy on the back flap is correct: "...entries of the subjects are placed in the contexts of their time and the chronological arrangements foster a sense of intimacy and narrative, allowing readers to read...from cover to cover and to gain new insights into the particular era's history." Let's underline that reference to "intimacy and narrative". I have only read this single volume from a series of eight. However, after reading Christopher Tyerman's essays in "Who's Who in Early Medieval England..." it is clear that he has a gift for condensing factual information (one might say distilling it) while laying bare the family, social, political and military networks that fashioned this strangest, most brutal, most religious of times.
Alliances were everything. Never forget the meaning of "alliance" in its medieval context: it signified a wedding ring. If Tyerman seems surprisingly detailed in showing who was related to whom, and to what degree, it is because he understands the intricate systems of alliances and hostilities (hatreds, envies and resentments) lubricating the workings of a crazed age. Had the author strayed a few degrees off course this tome could have been pedantic, but it is not. Networks and their obligations drove the restless, mad, often violent, sometimes compassionate feudal machine, and Tyerman demonstrates his fluent command of how wheels within wheels went to work. "Who's Who in Early Medieval England..." occasionally seems to combine the essences of The Plantagenet Chronicles and a sort of medieval People magazine. This is a very effective book.
Robert Fripp, author of
"Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine"