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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating
Wow, wasn't life tough in 9th Century England? As if there wasn't enough of a problem feeding yourself you might get dragged away from your fields and be told to fight some Vikings - and there was a good chance you might never make it back to your fields.

Alfred the Great is always fascinating and, in places, utterly riveting. It changed my notion (admittedly...
Published 21 months ago by Albie

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alfred the not-so great?
Having struggled with Alfred Smyth's account of "King Alfred" many years ago, I was pleased to find a book about this king that was more readable and didn't concentrate on latin snytax to try to disprove the authemiticity of Asser's biography.

This book did start well in explaining the origin of the sources for information about Alfred but, as someone who...
Published 19 months ago by Ian Thumwood


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, 14 Nov 2012
By 
Albie (Suffolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
Wow, wasn't life tough in 9th Century England? As if there wasn't enough of a problem feeding yourself you might get dragged away from your fields and be told to fight some Vikings - and there was a good chance you might never make it back to your fields.

Alfred the Great is always fascinating and, in places, utterly riveting. It changed my notion (admittedly based on my ignorance of history) that the time in between the Romans leaving and the Norman invasion was chaotic and lawless. But one of many things that struck me about this time was the mix of culture and barbarity. How did Churches flourish, how did people get time to make splendid jewellery and write books against this persistent background of violence? How could a Pope hundreds of miles away exert so much influence on our history here, especially when Rome wasn't exactly the powerhouse it had been.

As for Alfred - I was impressed by all his achievements and felt saddened that in general we in the UK don't know more about him. But he could equally be called Alfred the Lucky. If Guthrum's fleet hadn't been wrecked in a storm and if Alfred hadn't just managed to escape the Viking fleet off the Anglian coast, our history might now be much different.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man behind the myth, 11 May 2007
By 
Brian Levine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
Justin Pollard's strength is the canny way he brings ancient stories to life by focussing on the human, emotional drivers that set his protagonists into action. The social and political context of Alfred's world is dealt with sensitively and non-judgmentally, leaving the reader to draw his/her own conclusions with the assistance of Pollard's meticulous research.

An excellent work: a readable and informative benchmark for the subject matter. Pollard's thesis, that Alfred was the greatest Englishman, is highly persuasive.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alfred the Great by Justin Pollard, 1 Sep 2008
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
This book was my main vacation read this year, and I found it to be outstandingly good. Well written, historically accurate but never losing the story, which made me want to keep reading. What came over to me was the relative humanity, spirituality and phenomenal intelligence and intuition of the man, breaking the mould of the usual push, rush and massacre military style of the age. What particularly moved me was that the epithet "Great" came about in the sixteenth century on account of his literary works and translations, not that he created the framework of England, which we see diluted even today. "In the midst of prosperity the mind is elated, and in prosperity a man forgets himself; in hardship he is forced to reflect on himself, though he be unwilling." (Alfred the Great) A psychologist or a ninth century Saxon King? Read this book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alfred the Great, 14 Nov 2009
By 
E. J. Slight "Ted Slight" (Wells, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
Justin Pollard reveals a very lively character in the only Engish King called Great.
I was impressed by his assessment of the famous 'burnt cake' incident.
His attention to the study of ancient texts is also well documented. He shows clearly Alfred's passion for the introduction of wise directed learning amongst his fellows. Also Alfred's novel 'defence policy' against the sea-borne Vikings in his 'burgh system' .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alfred the Great, 17 April 2012
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A concise and absorbing paperback, I found the information in the book very educational and stimulating.
The photographs could be of a better quality.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in 9th-10th century Britain
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cyning sheal rice healdan, 23 Jan 2011
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Like another reviewer, I have found this to be riveting reading and I haven't finished the book yet (!) The author paces it well, explains the background without going OTT on the details and addresses successfully the intelligent lay reader. He also brings in some meaty and thought-provoking stuff, in particular the coup mounted against Alfred at Chippenham. This brings me to the title of my review, which, translated from the original Old English and therefore contemporaneous with Alfred's period, means "the king shall hold the kingdom". The author makes it clear that the nature of an "elective" king entailed the potential loss of this status if it were perceived by the "major players" in the kingdom that the king had failed precisely to do this. It also underlined the difficulties that Alfred personally faced (not just his debilitating illness) and how he had the strength of character to ultimately overcome them. If he hadn't, it's almost certain that English history would have become a much more Scandinavian history. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even "Greater than Great", 1 Mar 2007
By 
FRS (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
Perhaps only in England, could such a truly Giant of history, be almost ignored and taken for granted , and shunted down the cul-de-sac of being a cake burner ! Alfred's achievements are staggeringly important and impressive, well nigh impossible even.

This book does an excellent job in re-establishing Alfred in our minds, as the only one of all our monarchs to be labelled "The Great".

The book is quite detailed, but not dry or too academic. It is well paced and very readable, doing it's subject great justice. Highly recommended.

Thing is, we should have Alfred as our patron saint, rather than the ridiculous one we have at present......now that would give England some interest and national pride, to rival the other Home Countries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest English king, 18 Mar 2014
This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
After Bede this is the man with the vision of bringing the English kingdoms together as one.A man of great courage and concern for his people,and whose story has been told by Justin Pollard in this fascinating book.Along with the Penguin edition of Assers life of Alfred this book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in how our nation came to be.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps take me back in time to the 9th century, 11 Feb 2010
This review is from: Alfred the Great (Paperback)
Excellent reading and even though I am only half way through the book I know that it's as detailed as one might expect, allowing for the age of the subject matter. There is no doubt in my mind that the subject was well researched and thoroughly presented. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book and wonder right now what will be my next book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An uncomplicated introduction to Alfred and the Anglo Saxon world., 8 Jan 2014
By 
P. L. Shelley - See all my reviews
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I couldn't put this book down. The material is nicely presented in an easy to digest format and I felt that I had a picture of the nature of kingship in the early middle ages. Would recommend to anyone seeking an introduction to Alfred and the Anglo Saxon world to which he belonged.
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Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great by Justin Pollard (Paperback - 29 Jun 2006)
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