3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A delight on every level,
This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Kindle Edition)
I have been looking forward to the Adkins' new book for some while: "Jack Tar" is a classic, likewise "The War for all the Oceans". In fact nothing I have read of theirs has ever failed to inform and entertain, (in roughly equal measure), and this study of the world and social history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century is no exception.
Divided into sections covering all manner of civilian life, the narrative flows easily encompassing every aspect. And this is not a laboured trudge: the style is light, without being frivolous, making the mass of information easily digestible. Several grey areas that had previously concerned me were addressed, and an informed and detailed understanding of the period given. Contemporary diarists are quoted extensively, as are newspaper reports, editorials and even advertisements, the latter being a delightful inclusion, giving an insight into the commercial world, as well as conveying the aspirations and expectations of people from all levels of society. And it is in this catholic approach that the book is especially valuable; from nobility, through gentry, middling classes, and down as far as common vagrants, every social group is covered in full and fascinating detail.
The book is illustrated with maps, diagrams and monotone images, and comes with a comprehensive index, bibliography and reference notes - essential in a work of this nature. There is also a chronological overview which in itself brings up some interesting facts: George Stevenson was born a year before the last man was hung drawn and quartered, and The Times had been founded and already a popular newspaper when the last woman was burned at the stake. If there was one thing more I would ask for it would be a few colour plates, but this is perhaps a churlish request: the book is extremely well produced, and would make a welcome present for anyone with a feel for the era, or Jane Austen's novels.
All things considered, a truly excellent work; one that can be read for pleasure as much as research, and certain to cement the authors' position as preeminent historians of this period.