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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars


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on 21 July 2017
Such vivid detail one would think Moffat had been there.
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I am enjoying this book very much, but if you are of a nervous disposition, I suggest you don’t read it before going to bed. The reality of war then as now is brutal. The description of being hung drawn and quartered is just horrible, as are the punishments inflicted on the poor horses. Yes I know they were bred for war, but to read how the horse’s legs were broken, as the ground beneath them collapsed. (Bruce had constructed traps with sharpened stakes and covered them with brushwood)and to imagine their screams is not pretty, but this is the 14 C and in many ways it was a different world

It is clear that Moffat has huge admiration for Robert Bruce and this comes through in the book. His view of Edward of Carnarvon is less so, especially given his homosexuality, although Moffat is of the view that ultimately it was his dithering and incompetence that drove his commanders to despair as much as his sexual preferences.

A superb account of a defining moment in the history of Scotland and of Great Britain
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on 12 September 2014
When even a huge historical event like the Battle Of Bannockburn leaves so little physical evidence and few contemporary accounts then, as a reader, we have to trust the author's interpretations, analysis and assumptions.In this case Alistair Moffat does a fine job. Well researched and written in a distinct clear style that keeps the narrative of events moving and providing enough of the background to those events to stop it becoming either too glib or too academic. This is "popular history" close to its best with just enough "it is likely that" and " it is probable " to keep it clear that this is one author's view and that it is likely that we shall never know the full story. Reading it, as I have, just as the referendum in Scotland it about to take place I am only grateful that we do things differently now.
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on 31 March 2015
An excellent entertaining and informative read. Moffatt brings the events to life, so many history books are dry as dust with endless notes on troop dispositions and the excitement sucked out of the events. As a Scot I'm ashamed to admit I knew only a few basic facts about the battle and nothing about the politics that drove the event. I suppose that's what you would expect from a 70's edition where high school history lessons really meant the distorted ENGLISH history we were fed with our own peoples history criminally ignored. Well written and well researched Moffat has the storytellers knack of keeping the reader engaged throughout. I would recommend this book
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on 9 October 2014
I was lucky enough to get the Kindle version on sale and it was well worth buying. I read a lot of history but don't know much about Scottish history. This is a great well written lucid account of the battle and the background to the battle. It avoids silly cultural stereotypes of either side and gives credit where credit is due to both sides. My only quibble with the Kindle version is that it would be really helpful if you could flick to the maps and back to the text. Without ready access to the maps I found it hard to visualise the geography of the wider battlefield. Otherwise I would have given it 5 stars.
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on 27 May 2014
Author Alistair Moffat has a great gift for history-telling. This book is balanced and insightful and a delight to read. With his detailed descriptions, you find yourself immersed in the battle and the stories of those involved. All those with an interest in Scottish and British history should have a copy. Highly recommended.
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on 20 May 2014
This book is stunning, a book that I am proud to have on my bookshelf. Moffat brings the battle to life in an approachable and engaging manner. I love the care and attention that have gone into the production, all the little details on the pages and the gorgeous hardcover hidden under the dust jacket. A real delight!
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on 18 May 2014
Since he cannot draw the Pelstream or anything else, of course Moffat does not understand this battle at all. The Pelstream rises in 12 springs on Gillies Hill but is also fed by the top third of Halbert's Bog of which he is blissfully ignorant.
This is a nice looking book. What a pity it is all nonsense. Where did Moffat get his mistaken idea of the Pelstream? From Watson whose idiotic report for the Council made the same mistake. What is the reason for this rubbish? Birlinn's first principle in choosing a book to publish is: will it sell? Since Birlinn will believe that nothing can be known finally about this, of course any old rubbish will do, preferably the same rubbish the Scottish people have been fed for centuries. The idea that the problems have been completely solved and proved is beyond the arrogance of Birlinn. They were offered my book 'Bannockburn Proved' ten years ago and did not bother to read it because they deemed it 'uncommercial', even though the cover contained fulsome praise by historians, QC's and other brilliant minds that the entire matter had been finally resolved. How stupid to ignore that and reject such a book!
What matters here are a few questions.
1. Where were the battles of day 1 fought?
2. Where was the main battle of day 2 fought?
3. What was the strategy and the tactics?
4. What methods were employed to achieve success?
5. What is the fully justified map of the area in 1314? [That took me hundreds of visits to the battle area and 120,000 words in six books to justify, writing it up like a lab experiment]
6. What are the sources that lead to the conclusions? About 14 are valuable, 8 of them written within days of the battle.
7. What are the discontinuities and how are they resolved? There are five in all, every one tiny but significant. The resolution is wondrously illuminating! When completed, everything is clear for the first time.
8. What psychology is necessary to deal successfully with the sources: Bartlett's work at Cambridge with undergraduates on the effects of conveying the story of an event.
9. You need to prove everything. Bannockburn Proved (2005) has six proofs of the site of battle, one a single sentence with a page of quotation. The best is 'The Genius of Bannockburn' GB. 'Bannockburn Revealed' BR is also valuable, has the sources, translated and analysed, issue by issue, a matchless procedure.
10. The most important result (See p214 BR, published 2000): Robert Bruce, King of Scots, led the entire Scottish army on foot, everyone on foot, to within yards of the English cavalry lines camped in the Carse. Proof? See p31,32 GB. That conclusion, established in the year 2000 has been available for fifteen years. But Birlinn and his authors have yet to read it and absorb its implications. How appalling that publishing rubbish because it will sell should be preferred to the dissemination of the truth. I spent 24 years on this subject, half of it full time. I spent over 3 years just making the maps. Of course they are accurate. Everything of mine has been confirmed by many very able people.
Moffat does not even understand the necessity for such questions, still less that the answers are available, the problems solved. Publishers who foul up the literature by worthless books are worthless.
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on 9 February 2016
What an excellent book!!
Great use of sources - I felt that I was on the battlefield watching events occur blow by bloody blow!
Buy this volume. Far superior and readable than all other accounts I have read.
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on 21 November 2014
This is an excellent short account of the battle of Bannockburn and what makes it outstanding is Appendix 2 entitled Dramatis Personae that gives biographical notes on all those involved.
While much of what happened at Bannockburn comes from English authors who recorded the battle there is general agreement of what occurred.
The story places the battle between the Pelstream Burn and the Bannock Burn but as the author states the actual site remains a mystery as no human remains or artefacts,from the thousands that died have been found at that site.
A first class presentation.
Ignore the one star reviewer as he just parades his fantasies and delusions in a vain attempt to promote his silly book.
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