Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
116
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£10.78+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


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

I found this book extremely readable and very entertaining. Not something you can say about a lot of historical tomes.

The author gives a compelling account of the actual battle. So much so that the smell of the horses, the blood and gore and all the other noxious smells that are part and parcel of a battlefield seem to pervade the readers nostrils.

However the book is not just about the battle itself but also about the participants particularly the English King, scheming churchmen and murderous Dukes. The knightly heroes, cowards, surgeons and spies. The book has them all.

The author has made it possible for history to be enjoyed by a wider audience, rather than the academic. History has always been interesting. Books written like this one will make many more readers aware of that fact.
11 comment| 66 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 June 2012
This is simply a superb book or history as it should be written for a wide audience. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted many reviews and about 80% of them rate this book a well-deserved five stars.

It has many qualities and I am quite sure that I am going to miss at least a few of them in the next few paragraphs.

One is that it is not only about the battle itself. Rather, it replaces it in the much wider context of a whole campaign conducted by a recently drown king who needed a victory to establish his somewhat controversial claim to the throne of England.

Another is that it helps to explain what is one of the most crushing and well known of all victories won largely against the odds (at least on paper), whith the English army being outnumbered more than 2 to 1, cornered and force to fight for its survival - a somewhat similar scenario as that of the battle of Crécy in 1346 but with an even more devasting outcome perhaps (for the French, of course).

A third is that this book is also in a way the introduction to the author's next book which tells the rest of the story - largely what happened after Azincourt - in her "English Kingdom of France" which is just as superb a read as this one.

A fourth quality is that this book almost reads like a novel despite being a high quality and highly researched piece of scholarship. I bought this book some 6 years ago and could not put it down when reading it. I picked it up again quite recently to write a review on it and ended up rereading it from cover to cover and still unable to put it down before I had finished it once again.

Then there is also a fifth quality: before reading this book for the first time, I thought I knew most of what I wanted and needed to know about Azincourt which is not exactly an unknown or forgotten episode in English or in French history - how wrong I was!

Then there is also what could be seen as "technicalities" - the rather stupendous rate of shooting of the highly trained and specialized English long bow archers allied with the high level of penetration of their arrows. The picture that this book draws is a rather overwhelming one: the well-armoured French Knights walking into what was, quite litterally, a storm of arrows that they had no way of avoiding.

Finally, there is also the author's intellectual honesty. This is not a piece of nationalistic spin. Despite Henry V doing everything that was possible to even the odds in his favor, the battle was no walk-over and was hard-fought with the English losing almost 20% of their forces, despite being the winners. Also, the author pulls no punches when showing and explaining the cruelty and horrors of Medieval Warfare as Henry burned his way across Normandy. Finally, she does not try to disguise the fact that the battle of Azincourt happened as the much smaller English army which was being harassed by the much larger French forces while trying to break away and reach the safety of Calais. The English army got caught and cornered, and therefore was obliged to fight a battle it had been trying to avoid. That it won hands down, despite heavy losses, is certainly due to Henry's generaliship and his unmatched archers, but it is also due to the flawed and divided French command who wasted a huge opportunity to "finish off" the smaller and exhausted English army.

And I could go on, and on, and on...

So, if only for all that, and possibly also for a few other elements that I have certainly forgotten to mention, this book is easily worth five stars (and would have deserved more if this had been possible).
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 January 2007
I've read this book three times within the last six months......I can't recall ever doing so, beyond the age of reading the Beano annual! Juliet Barker has a unique but easy style. It is so rare to find a truly scholarly work that reads like the best of novels. A superb book deserving all possible praise!
0Comment| 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I found this book extremely readable and very entertaining. Not something you can say about a lot of historical tomes.

The author gives a compelling account of the actual battle. So much so that the smell of the horses, the blood and gore and all the other noxious smells that are part and parcel of a battlefield seem to pervade the readers nostrils.

However the book is not just about the battle itself but also about the participants particularly the English King, scheming churchmen and murderous Dukes. The knightly heroes, cowards, surgeons and spies. The book has them all.

The author has made it possible for history to be enjoyed by a wider audience, rather than the academic. History has always been interesting. Books written like this one will make many more readers aware of that fact.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 February 2007
One of the cover endorsements says something like: "If you read only one history book this year, make it this one". I'd totally agree. Everyone thinks they know something about Agincourt, but the more one reads the more one realises how little on knew. The anglo / french geopolotics leading to the battle are byzantine and fascinating. The author lucidly outlines the lead-up to the campaigne and contextualises in a way that is easy to understand without trivialisation. The narrative zooms in from the "big picture" to some of the real and personal experiences of players (noble and otherwise) on both sides. Can't wait to see what she tackles next.
0Comment| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 December 2012
I bought this book on a whim - I knew nothing of Agincourt beyond the name. Now I know where the battle took place and when, why it took place and how it was fought who was involved (and who was not involved). However the book covers the battle itself in only a few pages towards the end of the book. Subtitled: The King, The Campaign, The Battle. This book tells you more than just the events of the famous battle of Agincourt. It introduces you to King Henry V and tells of the uncertainties of the time in his early battles against his renegade Dukes and constant watchfulness on the Scots.

Most of the book is about the preparation and funding and includes some fascinating details on the following topics:
Henry V was a great King, and a very religious man who believed he had God on his side and was fighting a Just War.
War was made a national pass time with everyone training in the long bow and the nation always fighting the French, Scots or Welsh rebels.
Chivalry. This enabled Henry to take someone prisoner and release them to find their ransom (if he chose) or to keep them prisoner without ransom if it better sought his purposes.
The role of heralds of both sides on the battle fields as reporters of who did what.
The ordinances or rules of invasion by which Henry controlled the behaviour of his soldiers and for which the English were reknowned (morality of war).

Despite covering fascinating topics in detail I found the book overlong and as another reviewer has pointed out - A good few paragraphs get bogged down with number crunching ... throughout the whole book. History buffs may well give if 5 stars for such meticulous detail, but this doesn't suit the casual reader like myself. Mind you those topics I found interesting I found very interesting and am likely to investigate further. Just remember this book is about more than the battle of Agincourt alone.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 27 April 2014
Great book. Really enjoyed it. The book is written in a very readable style, but doesn't compromise on detail or the depth of the subject. Juliet Barker appears to be a knowledgeable, analytical and thoughtful historian as well a fine writer...bit of a rare combination. Totally bought the period to life for me, from both a political and social viewpoint. I became fully engrossed in the English verses French political scene of the time, as well as the motivations of the Royal Houses, nobility and armies. The details of the battle itself are really well written both from a tactical and human viewpoint. I've read a few books on the subject before but none was so complete and gripping as Juliet Barker's.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 August 2015
This is a fascinating and involved account of the events leading up to and including the battle of Agincourt. I was particularly interested in the siege of Harfleur. I didn't even know this had taken place. I learnt a lot about the character of Henry the fifth, he was a pious, steadfast, tough as nails king and I think I will read more books to learn about him as an individual. I thought the battle was skipped over to quickly and Barker has an irritating habit of name dropping, which tends to slow the pace of the book. That aside, it is an excellent read and I would recommend.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 January 2013
I suppose my username says it all... I own I guess almost all biographies of Henry V (and plenty more of his father, his son, and brother Humphrey duke of Gloucester) - but this is one of the best about the whole Lancastrian era.

I believe if someone has no knowledge beyond Shakespeare and wants to find out who the 'real' Henry V was, this book is the best, it reads like a novel, you won't find any part of it where you would consider it boring history. Barker portrays the king as a bit of a medieval hero still, so those who love Shakespeare's hero will not be disappointed. The writing is easy, there's no 'flooding of facts' and by the end I believe everyone will fall in love a bit with the king like Barker probably did when writing this book. It's an additional bonus that she covered the last years and death of the king in her follow-up (Conquest: The English Kingdom of France) so there is a happy ending in this book.

What I found outstanding besides Barker's writing is how she organised her topic, as she gets nearer to the battle itself, she covers different topics, aspects of the campaign and the king's motivations, beliefs and driving forces that lead him into several controversial decisions - in his negotiations with France, preparing for the campaign (pawning even the royal cutlery so he has the money to finance it - he gave his own crown, the 'Crown Henry' that he and his father was crowned with, to his brother Thomas who broke it up to pay the troops), the decision to march on from Harfleur, the strict authority which he so effectively maintained and yet his troops idolised him, how ruthless he actually was - he almost burned a village just when his scouts informed him that a crossing has been found on the river Somme... and that controversial decision of killing the prisoners, which is probably the only topic during which Barker "gets too much" onto the defensive side in trying to excuse the king.

Many critics say that the book is written in such a positive view of Henry as if Barker became a bit of a 'fangirl' herself, but for me that only adds to it. If anyone wants to "get to know" Henry V, read this first, read Ian Mortimer's 1415 to counteract and give a more real, rough view on the same campaign and then read Christopher Allmand's biography that covers Henry's life and reign in whole (Yale English Monarchs) / as for Mortimer, he does not paint the king a tyrant as many reviews would suggest (Anne Curry does it), he is quite realistic where Barker sometimes becomes a bit one (optimistic) sided, e.g. the "success" that was the surrender of Harfleur, or the battle of Agincourt itself. Yet Barker does a much better job in putting the campaign in place for a beginner with the topic, if one considers Henry's motivations, and also covers better the preparations (simply because these started even before Henry ascended to the throne - in about 1409).

Overall, this is probably the most enjoyable book about Henry V, and the best read.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 April 2013
Bought this to contrst against Ann Curry's history of Agincourt. I certainly gives another perspective on the make up of the numbers involved in the Battle and the make up ie Welsh and English Archers. I do believe that there is some controversy between the two authors of the books on Agincourt that I purchased but this just adds interest for me. I am taking my time to read both the books so a good purchase forme the amateur.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)