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Great Tales From English History, Battle of the Boyne to DNA, Robert Lacey - Interesting and accurate bite sized history.
on 3 January 2010
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.