Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 28 April 2004
I bought this book as I have always been very interested in, but fairlyignorant of, the history of this great country.
The author takes you on a rollercoaster ride through the early history ofEngland, presenting 'snap-shots' of important people and events in small,focused chapters of between three and six pages. This may sound too short,and I can see from other reviews that this is not everyones cup of tea,but I found the length just right.
If you are an avid historian or have a great deal of prior knowledge ofEnglish history then this book is probably not for you. If you are seekingvast detail on one particular event in English history then this book isprobably not for you. However, if the history of England is new to you, oryour memory of school history lessons is somewhat clouded, then this bookis a fantastic introduction or re-introduction to the fascinating past ofthis country.
The author has stirred my interest in so many different events that I amdetermined to study them in greater depth at a later date. I cannot praisethis book higher than that.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 December 2003
I do not profess to be a good reader, so it takes a special kind of book to keep my attention and interest.
Simply, if ever you want to read about English History you need go no further. From the first page to the last I was enthralled and excited. Written in a friendly, easy to read way, Mr Lacey plots a careful and enjoyable course through the times of Merrie (and not so Merrie) England.
For the first time ever, I have an understanding of what being English actually means. The reader will learn not only of Kings, Queens, Battles and Wars which dictate the scholar's History lessons, but the colourful characters which make up the patchwork of English life: Wat Tyler, Caedmon and Lady Godiva.
The one moment of disappointment is knowing its about a year until we pick up the second volume with Dick Whittington.
There cannot be a single person who reads this book who is not left begging for more.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMEon 21 March 2006
I first discovered Robert Lacey as an author from his book 'The Year 1000'. Interesting, accessible, easy to follow, with a good balance of detail and breadth (always a tricky task when writing a popular history), that book was one of my favourites around the turn of the second millennium. I discovered this book after finding the second volume of this set on the shelves of my local library, and have found it equally worthwhile and fun to read.
This book focuses upon the period from Britain's prehistoric period up to the Middle Ages (the second volume concentrates on the late Middle Ages to the post-Reformation era in English history) - in royal terms, the times of the pre-Norman Conquest kingdoms and invasions, and the early Plantagenets. In years, this goes from the years around 7000 BC to the late 1300s (Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt).
One of the things that I like a lot about this particular history is that the stories are brief and self-contained while being part of the overall flow of the history of England. They make for good bed-time reading (the longest of the stories is barely seven pages long, in easy print and easy, storytelling language). Many of the characters are already familiar figures even to those who aren't Anglophiles - William the Conqueror, Alfred the Great, Boadicea, Thomas Becket and Richard the Lionhearted. Then there will be figures that are lesser known but just as interesting - the Cheddar Man (no, he wasn't made of cheese) from 7000s BC and the Fair Maids of Kent (a story with the foundation of the Order of the Garter). These are tales told in a simplified but memorable manner, and could serve for younger and older readers as a stimulus for further reading and investigation about topics brought up in the text.
There are a few maps, royal lineage charts, and woodcut/line art drawings throughout the text. Lacey includes a bibliography for further reading (this contains a good number of website addresses for making further research very easy). There is also an index, which many popular histories forget, but Lacey is to be highly praised for including one here, making looking up particular names, places and events very easy.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 September 2005
Very enjoyable, and a good easy read. Robert Lacey covers familiar ground, and some not so familiar, in nice bite-sized chunks. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on King Canute and the waves, and agree that Canute's sorry reputation is ill deserved!
However, I do think that Lacey woud do better to leave his personal conclusions out of it, or at least state clearly that they are his own. He is very right-on; very keen to tell us that practically everything we would consider to be "English" actually has its roots elsewhere. Everything (it seems) is a foreign import, such as the "Turkish" St George who was actually Phoenician and dates much further back than "Turkey" and the "Turks". He makes judgements which are perfectly in keeping with current Guardian thought, such as his verdict on Edward I who expelled the Jews. Lacey's judgement on this episode falls on the King's own "act of bigotry" (merely for financial gain, supposedly) AND on the people of England because they "applauded" it. And all this without attempting to place the events in any kind of context.
For this reason I would not recommend this book to children. Children are very impressionable and are likely to accept Mr Lacey's judgements without questioning them further.
History is always written to please someone and Lacey has much in common with the Court Historians of old, inasmuch as he tells the tales with a particular bias. It is my opinion that he should try to be more objective.
And now I'm about to start the next book!
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 October 2003
I love this book. Robert Lacey portrays characters and events from English history in an easy to understand and enjoyable to read format. While the chapters are short, Lacey uses plenty of great detail to make the avid fan of history happy and still succeeds at keeping the casual reader entertained.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone.
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 November 2006
It is only after buying and reading this book that I realized that it is one of a series covering different time periods of English history. So my first comment is that this book can be read and enjoyed independently of the other volumes. In fact I found this book just the kind of bedtime reading I like, and I will be buying the other volumes in the near future. The book consists of 60 short stories, each 3-5 pages long, ranging from John Locke (1690), though Brunel (1843), to Crick and Watson (1953). As I read through the initial tales my first impression was that they were a little too concise and did not include sufficient context to appreciate fully the story being told. However as I approached the Spinning Jenny (1766) and Ned Ludd (1812) I realized what the problem was. My long forgotten school education had more or less jumped from the Romans and Viking straight into the 1800's, leaving a big gap of ignorance in the middle. Thus I found it far easier to situate the tales dating from 1760-70 in the context of my (admittedly still limited) knowledge of English history. Here is the strength of the book, and lets drop the "great" and employ the more useful "entertaining", it brings a bit of life to what many people (including myself) see as a rather dry and dusty subject. The tales can be read as nothing more than interesting snippets about the past. The style of writing is uncomplicated and light, yet each tale is rich and enjoyable. However the book also does a really good job in wetting the reader's appetite for more, and in this context the 20 pages of "bibliography and source notes" are a very welcome addition (the Web addresses are also appreciated).
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 January 2005
This is a delightful book. A book to read curled up in front of the fire on a cold winter's day. A lovely book to hold and weigh in your hands. But be warned. It is a book to ration - no more than one or two short chapters at a time - and it will have you ransacking your bookshelves to chase up more information or scouring your local library for more detailed works. Any book that kindles or reawakens a passion for English history is a treasure. And this book, along with the first volume in the series, does just that. Not only does Robert Lacey keep each tale sufficiently brief for his readers to keep track of the larger plot but, by cramming so much information into just a few paragraphs, he makes us feel we have a good grasp of what each topic is all about. Yet at the same time he leaves us asking for more. And that is where the list of references, especially the details of the latest websites, is particularly helpful. Like me, Lacey is not an academic and I cannot guarantee the quality of his scholarship (I thought the legend of Thomas More's private jail was now considered apocryphal). But the book is convincing as an honest attempt at telling the truth as the best of today's historians currently understand it. It is a book I can heartedly recommend.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is an enjoyable book, which is guaranteed to get people interested in history. Very much like Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples", Lacey sets out to tell quirky and interesting tales from the history of this island race. Whereas Churchill tended to be a bit verbose and went on a bit, this book presents all the stories in short, easily digestible chunks. There is also a sense of humour in Lacey's writing, I was occasionally reminded of that other great history text "1066 and all that" in style, but with real historical facts.

After being turned off history at school by serious teachers obsessed with agricultural reform in the 16th century (yawn!!!), this book delivered exactly what makes history interesting. Battles, Kings, important dates and interesting people having interesting adventures. It's accurate, easily accessible and quite interesting. Not an authoritative history of these isles, just selected series of stories that interested the author. A perfect antidote to that in depth study of the influence of the seed drill on political reform of the 17th century I remember being bored to tears by in `proper' history lessons.

This is the third book of three. I can highly recommend the first two in the series, which set a high standard. However, this volume did not quite achieve the same heights in my eyes. It's as though the author feels a bit bored by it all now, and just wants to finish the job. There is a dashed off feel to many of the chapters, which seem to skim over the surface and don't get the same feeling of depth as in the first two books. I would also take issue with several of Lacey's choices for stories fit for inclusion - for example there are only two stories from the first world war, there were many more that would fitted in well here. It's still a worthy effort, and one guaranteed to get bored schoolkids re-interested in history however. Recommended, but volumes 1 and 2 are recommended more.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, which is guaranteed to get people interested in history. Very much like Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples", Lacey sets out to tell quirky and interesting tales from the history of this island race. Whereas Churchill tended to be a bit verbose and went on a bit, this book presents all the stories in short, easily digestible chunks. There is also a sense of humour in Lacey's writing, I was occasionally reminded of that other great history text "1066 and all that" in style, but with real historical facts.

After being turned off history at school by serious teachers obsessed with agricultural reform in the 16th century (yawn!!!), this book delivered exactly what makes history interesting. Battles, Kings, important dates and interesting people having interesting adventures. It's accurate, easily accessible and quite interesting. Not an authoritative history of these isles, just selected series of stories that interested the author. A perfect antidote to that in depth study of the influence of the seed drill on political reform of the 17th century I remember being bored to tears by in `proper' history lessons.

This is the first book of three, I look forward to reading the other two.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
It was undoubtedly very enjoyable and readabe book, written for adults. No previous knowledge of the history is assumed.

A good read just before bed!
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)