35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Detailed and Wide-Ranging - A High-Quality Book,
This review is from: The Anglo-Saxon World (Hardcover)
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!