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Customer Review

21 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Struggle For Interesting History, 20 July 2009
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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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jun 2012 22:21:20 BDT
I've almost finished reading this, and was considering writing a review. But yours is correctly weighted and absolutely spot on and says, more articulately than I could, exactly what I feel about this book. Bravo.

Posted on 21 Dec 2012 16:05:01 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Dec 2012 00:56:55 GMT
gabriel says:
Just read the first two chapters of this book and your criticism is spot on. It reads like a long, somewhat tedious list of facts and figures. And the prose is also fairly plain, and uninspired.

Posted on 16 Jan 2014 15:03:01 GMT
rob adam says:
I agree that it might not be the most gripping account of Medieval England but that is hardly its purpose. As an undergraduate in history I can assure you that this book is an invaluable asset to my course and has provided the basis for a great many of my essays. Wouldn't read it outside of that context though!
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