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Why Alfred Burned the Cakes: A King and his eleven-hundred-year afterlife Hardcover – 11 May 2006
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Horspool successfully combines a historical approach...with a perceptive analysis of the various tales the King engendered. (Times Literary Supplement)
explodes some of the myths surrounding his legacy, while retaining an interest in the genesis of the stories about him that have modern currency... (Observer)
David Horspool's Why Alfred Burned the Cakes does not seek to discredit the cult of Alfred as unhistorical but instead to look at why the myths surrounding him came into being. (Financial Times Magazine)
Myths...are scraped off like barnacles as the West Saxon hero is pulled from the morass of pious public schoolboy attitudes and sentimental Victorian values by a cheerfully revisionist historian. (Times)
This entertaining, pithy and thought-provoking book both embodies and explains the enduring resonance of Alfred's story. (Sunday Telegraph)
If you have time to read just one book about the great man, you should make it this one. (Daily Telegraph)
About the Author
David Horspool is the history editor of The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London and is now writing a book on English rebels.
Top customer reviews
The humour others refer to is almost entirely absent- and when present, is as dry and arch as a Victorian schoolmarms. Mr Horspool does represent 21st century prejudices well- he belittles the conversions of the norsemen to Christianity by insisting that the conquered always believe the 'magic' is stronger in the conquerors gods. Why then did the English kings of the sixth and seventh centuries accept Christianity, the religion of the British they conquered? Or indeed the Romans before them? Both ignorant and stupid.
He can't get his head around this idea that liberty may cost blood, sweat and unwelcome toil. He argues at one point that Alfreds Burghal system acted to make Englishmen less free. Presumably he thinks dead Englishmen are in theory freer.
Mr Horspools modish detachment (after all, he's not writing history) only serves to make this a trudge. All in all, its a subject still awaiting a decent book.
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