Top critical review
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Very much like the curate's egg - good in parts
on 12 April 2001
Despite considerable detail about the French component of the English nation in earlier chapters, along with the campaigns and consequences, the Hundred Years War only gets mentioned by name!
My main irritation however, and the complete spoiling of the book for me, is the fact that the first third is quite good, and the last third OK, but the middle third is completly missing!! He quite reasonably and perfectly legitimately divides the time period by the reigns of the monarchs, spending considerable time on the main events and ramifications of each reign, and then covers the events of the Wars of the Roses, the transition from the Plantagenets to the Tudors, the rapid succesion of monarchs (not even named!), the life & times of Richard III etc. all in one page! This is arguably one of the most action packed, interesting and important periods in our history, and not described at all!
This is all the more galling when you consider that the reign of Elizabeth I, important in it's own way, but - let's face it, pretty un-eventful (Mary Queen of Scots, and the non-invasion of the Spanish Armarda are considered by Scharma to be the most dramatic happenings) - gets the single most lengthy chapter! When you think about it, the most important part of Elizabeth's reign was her last breath, which ended the Tudor dynasty, and brought about the unification of Scotland and England, effectively creating the Britain that all the other reviewers are carping on about. Sorry, but Boswell Field and the period that preceeded it are probably more important, and certainly far more interesting than the peaceful flowering of the Elizabethan period.
You have been warned - it's disappointment.