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4.6 out of 5 stars27
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 12 February 2014
This account of Anglo-Saxon England and its connections is outstanding because of its depth and comprehensiveness. It takes account of very recent discoveries, such as the Staffordshire Hoard, and development of thinking on episodes such as the migration period and developing trade centres, in the in the light of archaeological research. I liked the inserted sections which look in detail at particular features such as the Domesday Book and the Bayeux Tapestry (for the work includes the impact of the Norman invasion). It is the 'Anglo-Saxon World' not just in a geographical sense but in the way it seems to look at every aspect of society. I read the hard-cover version. I know that Kindle versions of non-fiction books like this are often much less satisfactory because of the illustrations and coloured diagrams which are frequently referred to, and looking at other reviews makes me think that the conversion in this case may not be very satisfactory.
I am not a historian but I have a long-term interest in this period.
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on 17 July 2013
This is an excellent book. Well-written, readable and frequently insightful it will reward the lay reader, the undergraduate and the academic. Highly detailed, it adopts a chronological approach to Anglo-Saxon England, starting with the Roman period and ending with the Norman Conquest. The authors draw on a number of disciplines including history, archaeology, place-name studies, numismatics and linguistics and have clearly consulted a wide range of other experts during the research process. The result is a highly illuminating commendably broad-ranging account that manages to cover a surprising amount of information relatively succinctly while still producing a coherent whole.

Each chapter is followed by a section entitled `Sources and Issues'. These sections deal with specific historical issues in detail - such as the fifth- or sixth-century cleric Gildas or Doomsday Book - and provide a useful counter-point to the overarching chronology of the work. They enable the reader to engage more directly with the source material underlying the book and provide access to information on subjects which are either extremely new - such as with the Prittlewell Chamber Burial and the Staffordshire Hoard - or are rarely found outside of specialist publications - such as Spong Hill Cremation Cemetery and the mid-Saxon settlement at Flixborough. Their inclusion, therefore, adds an important extra dimension to the work.

In the interests of balance, it is perhaps unfortunate that the decision was taken to write without footnotes. The decision is understandable, particularly in a more general work such as this, but the result is that some sections suffer from a lack a transparency. In fairness to the authors, though, there is a guided bibliography for each section at the rear of the book. It is possible, therefore, to follow-up specific topics should the reader desire it. Similarly, it is unfortunate that the `Sources and Issues' sections do not appear on the table of contents, particularly given their worth. It should be noted, though, that the positions of such sections in the book are indicated by off-cream coloured pages which contrast with the white pages of the rest of the work.

Overall, 'The Anglo-Saxon World' is a rewarding and thought-provoking book that it is hard to fault; indeed it would be churlish to do so. What is more, it represents remarkably good value. It is generously illustrated and printed on high-grade photographic paper throughout. This book is thus a pleasure to read on a number of levels!
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on 21 July 2014
An excellent, varied and authoritative introduction to just about every area of Anglo-Saxon society. Written by acknowledged experts and very well illustrated. I read it cover to cover but readers could choose to dip in and out of its themed chapters. A great one-stop book for those looking for an up-to-date assessment of current academic thinking (in terms of both archaeology and documentary analysis), or a detailed springboard to further reading. Chapter-themes include: Britain at the end of the Roman Empire; the origins of Anglo-Saxon England; the emergence of kingship and the Christian conversion; the Mercian Supremacy; the Viking Wars; the unification of England; the age of Aethelred and the end of Anglo-Saxon England. The book is very well illustrated with a very good range and quality of photographs, diagrams and maps. Overall it is written with a lightness of touch but on the basis of a deep awareness of the trends and issues involved in modern scholarship and recent archaeological finds. If I had to recommend one book to a person seeking an up-to-date and accessible one-volume overview this is it. Excellent for the general reader and also for the undergraduate student of Anglo-Saxon history seeking to get an understanding of the issues and complexities, before going further into more specialist works. A very fine book indeed and a pleasure to read. My only slight disappointment was that there were no references (using numbers or Harvard referencing) in the text itself, although sources referred to are covered in a chapter-by-chapter Bibliography at the end of the book. This will make no difference to the general reader but does make it a little more time-consuming for an academic reader seeking to quickly link reference to source. A minor point.
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on 25 July 2013
If you buy just one book on the Anglo Saxon period buy this one. Dumbed down history it is not. Detailed and informative drawing on a variety of fields. Brilliantly illustrated in full colour makes it a delight just to turn the pages.

Arranged chronologically the chapters are divided by short follow up sections on sources and issues which can be read as stand alone essays. This is a book not just to read cover to cover but to dip into on whatever aspect of Anglo Saxon history interests you or you need to look up information on. If this book doesn't grab your interest in the period none will. The extensive Bibliography then directs you towards further study.


Alan Brannon
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on 31 July 2013
This is an excellent book, succinctly and engagingly written and illustrated. It demonstrates the value of thoughtful multi-disciplinary approach to academic work and is a timely replacement of Campbell's The Anglo-Saxons (1982). For anyone wanting to understand early England, I would highly recommend this book.
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on 11 January 2014
Hugely interesting, well written and presented with lovely illustrations and maps. As an historian I could not put it down for two days before I wrapped it. My son has a special interest in Anglo Saxon civilisation and was delighted to receive it this Christmas.
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on 28 December 2013
This book contains much up to date information and illustrations.
It is very informative and covers a wide range of subjects, providing a good background to Anglo Saxon Britain.
It does not delve in very great detail but provides excellent pointers to key events during this period of history,
which the reader may choose to study further in greater detail.
It should prove to be a very useful reference for future studies.
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on 10 September 2014
Not read to the end, but the sections I have used were useful. The most recent scholarship, so its a useful complement to James Campbell's book that is a little dated, with plenty of maps and useful illustrations, and handy sub-sections explring relevant subjects.

Worthy edition to the library of any historian, Anglo-Saxonist or anyone interested in this period.
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on 22 August 2014
The authors provide a well illustrated and updated general account of the full Anglo-Saxon period, which will likely be of genuine interest and sound educational value to both the lay and student reader. For more advanced study, detailed sources are given in references and comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book.
In particular the latest archaeological, genetic, isotope analysis on burials, place-names, coin finds etc. evidence was examined and used to persuasively demonstrate the emergence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms after the departure of the Romans, including contrasting developments in our near continental neighbours.
However like previous texts, the discussion dealing with the early 5/6th centuries still fundamentally relies on scant historical records and therefore seemingly remains inconclusive on the languages spoken across Britain and the scale of Germanic/Scandinavian settlement.
Indeed the possibility that the indigenous Britons (and the British language) faced with Saxons, Angles and other groups of raiders/settlers along the North Sea coasts as reported in the historical sources, were a pre-Roman resident Germanic-speaking people along with the Welsh, Gaels and Picts, could have been more thoroughly explored in the text. See for example
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on 12 January 2015
This is a wonderful book, well written, beautifully illustrated and pictured throughout. A pleasure to spend time with, I just can't fault it.
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