32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Hundred Years War Vol 2: Trial by Fire v. 2 (Paperback)Vol II of Mr Sumption's history of the Hundred Years War is as much of a delight as its predecessor. His knowledge of his subject is exhaustive, yet he never allows his narrative to become bogged down or convoluted, even when explaining the most intricate political manoeuverings. Clarity and ease of comprehension are obviously two of Mr Sumption's goals, and he succeeds completely in both respects.
I found the in-depth analysis of the revolt of the Parisian commoners (following the disastrous Battle of Poitiers and the capture of the French King by the English) of particular interest. I have read several one-volume histories of the War and I do not recall any of them making more than passing reference to this episode. Obviously, in a multi-volume history Mr Sumption has more space in which to fully explain events, yet the revolt is of great importance to understanding the social and economic disasters that befell France as a result of this period of the War. It is also illuminating in respect to the later history of Paris and that city's "tradition" of revolution. Similarly, the attention to the ravages of the notorious companies brings home forcefully the sufferings experienced by France and her people.
Although this is an excellent book, I could not in good faith recommend it to those who have only a passing interest in the subject - one of the several good one-volume histories would be sufficient to cover the major events of the War. For those who want a more in-depth understanding, however, I do not believe that Mr Sumptions's work has been bettered.
Like the earlier reviewer, I am eagerly awaiting Volume III and sincerely hope that Mr Sumption will not wait so long to produce this next volume as he did between Volumes I & II. I am sure I am not the only person who wishes that he would retire from the Bar and concentrate on history (although our motives are probably different).