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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful
The theory underpinning Carpenter's survey of British history from the Conquest to the birth of Edward II is that accusations of English 'imperialism' (by R. Davies, etc.) over the rest of Britain are simplistic and fail to factor for the struggles within Wales, Scotland and Ireland between respective dynasties for "dominion" over one another. In other words, all of...
Published on 12 July 2010 by James B

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I love reading history but this book was a little above ...
I love reading history but this book was a little above me. Its very professional and not for the average reader. Its very in depth, and political and like trying to absorb heavy parliamentary records . Would be suitable for advanced history students and very serious
readers or people who cant get to sleep easy. No doubt it is a brilliant book but rather...
Published 2 months ago by Gamebird


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, 12 July 2010
This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
The theory underpinning Carpenter's survey of British history from the Conquest to the birth of Edward II is that accusations of English 'imperialism' (by R. Davies, etc.) over the rest of Britain are simplistic and fail to factor for the struggles within Wales, Scotland and Ireland between respective dynasties for "dominion" over one another. In other words, all of Britain was "struggling for mastery", not just England.

Carpenter's book is balanced and thorough, at times introductory, others very detailed. It is highly illuminating and accessible to the non-specialist. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny, 23 Oct 2010
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A. J. Pratt "Skydiver47" (Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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David Carpenter is the only historian I know who can hold a candle to Prof Crouch in this period. The detail in this book is incredible and you have to concentrate all the way through, but the effort is more than worth while. Anyone who is interested in this period will find this an incredibly valauble book. Far too often english history is just that - English; the movement around the British Isles and the near continent throughout the period is vastly rewarding, I confess with shame I had no idea about early Scottish history, for example, before reading this. Highly recommended.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a tour de force!, 30 Jan 2005
By 
Brigitte Hilgner (Vienna Austria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
It takes some time to digest this book because it offers such a wealth of information on more than 500 densely printed pages (not counting the bibliography and the index). It starts with the Norman invaders crossing the Channel (providing us also with a glimpse of the situation in Britain prior to the Conquest), tells of a realm straddling the Channel and kings (e.g. Henry II) at times more focused on the continent than on England. Scottland and Wales are treated as separate entities (which they were until Edward I changed the situation) and covered in detail. Irish history (as far as it is intertwinded with British history) is not neglected. We learn about the changes in rulership, the gradual development of parliament, the impact of royal decisions and actions upon all stratas of society and the interactions between kings and not only their barons but also the knights and the burghers who gradually gained in importance.
The history of a country is always the history of its rulers, too, but in this book it's not so much their person/personality which is the focus of attention, we see them as part of a whole which they only managed to shape to a certain degree and which sometimes developed a life of its own which the ruler no longer managed to control effectively (e.g. John, Henry III).
The book is good to read, very fluently written, but requires one's full attention because it is so cram-full with facts. A glossary would have been helpful.
Invaluable for anyone interested in that period in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile but Demanding of the Non-Expert, 6 May 2011
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
The book is a testament to the knowledge and insights of its author. However, so great is the amount of information he seeks to present, that questions inevitably arise about the realism of his objectives and his choice of lay-out. He attempts to do justice to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and much of Western France, by treating those entities as more than arenas for English involvement, but inevitably has to be selective, and the basis for selection is usually significance in the English context. He preserves a fairly rigid chronological ordering, but unfortunately this can be confusing, especially when he is contrasting different 'Henry or William's. Either some basic timelines for easy reference, or a more thematic ordering would surely have aided the non-expert to absorb more of his very worthwhile analyses.
I reached the final chapter, impressed by his even-handedness, only to be amazed by his attitude to the actions of Edward I. The ability of that man has never been in question, but the idea that his demolition of the Welsh polity, and the attempt to do the same in Scotland, which came so close to success, can be seen as the entirely reasonable actions of a man `more sinned against than sinning' is certainly a new take for me. I was also surprised to see the `state building' of Welsh and Scottish rulers in the preceding century, contrasted with pacific England which had of course had the resources to achieve `natural frontiers' two or three hundred years earlier.
In spite of these reservations I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wished to know more of the British Isles in the first part of the last millennium.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I love reading history but this book was a little above ..., 6 July 2014
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
I love reading history but this book was a little above me. Its very professional and not for the average reader. Its very in depth, and political and like trying to absorb heavy parliamentary records . Would be suitable for advanced history students and very serious
readers or people who cant get to sleep easy. No doubt it is a brilliant book but rather selective I would imagine in its readership.To some people it would be 5 stars but to me personally 3 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality history, 10 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
Good quality history, well narrated. Quite a lot of stuff is a summary of earlier writers without detailed attribution. Penguin standard history.
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19 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Struggle For Interesting History, 20 July 2009
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Michael Cater (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
In terms of information about the period, you can't go far wrong with this volume. It's balanced, detailed about all aspects of its subject and fairly exhaustive, although it does tend to focus on some periods too extensively to the detriment of others.

The reign of Richard I is summarised far too quickly for instance; understandably, perhaps, since he spent almost all of his rule outside Britain, but for pure entertainment a fuller account would have certainly livened up the text somewhat. Herein lies the problem, and one common with most written history; it takes a fascinating subject, and through academic constraints makes it not all that interesting.

There is much to be admired here, but the style of prose is so predictable it hurts, with all the mandatory cliches ('of course', 'hardly', 'as we have seen' etc). It would really help this work as a readable text if he expanded on many of the stories he teases at, and interspersed the facts, statistics and 'proper history' with details of rumours and scandals and love affairs and chivalry which were such a major part of the period.

Overall, a solid purchase and excellent introduction to the topic. This is a highly accurate academic work, but decidedly dull and unambitious in terms of entertainment and readability.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 22 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
A splendid read.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real history of Britain., 2 Oct 2009
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This review is from: The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (Paperback)
I'll forget the propoganda fed to me in my youth (b1941) there is enough in here to be able to class the Angevin kings alongside the Lehman brothers for greed, ambition and self agrandisment, its heavy going but places the word 'Noble' at the bottom of the finer things to be descended from.
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The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284
The Penguin History of Britain: The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 by Prof David Carpenter (Paperback - 26 Aug 2004)
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