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on 21 September 2011
This is a great addition to the Kindle library . An excellent overview by Bob Carruthers includes the complete text translated into English AND the Peterburgh Chronicle in Anglo-Saxon. This must surely be the definitive edition for the Kindle. This is how history should be presented, allowing the reader to easily access the primary sources is essential and I love being able to compare the modern English against the Anglo-Saxon.
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on 10 April 2014
I must first admit to being no Anglo Saxon scholar, as evidenced by the fact that I am writing this review shortly after reading the Chronicle for the first time and only in a very much redacted format. That said, I do have a keen amateur interest in this period and have read reasonably widely the more accessible (and so popular) histories. I avoided the Chronicle itself because I naively believed that they would be a long list of dubious facts about battles and even more dubious genealogies. I got this impression by dipping casually in and out on the internet or through quoted sections within other books. For anyone out there who shares this mistaken impression I'd like to recommend this quite brilliant electronic edition, you will be pleasantly surprised.

This book is clearly not a history book in the sense of an accurate retelling of past events. This version is also laid out so the many failings of the narrative are clear; many people, including important figures, die multiple times for example. However, if you take it for what its is, then you will get a rewarding read. It is a fantastic glimpse of the way nations are born. In this electronic edition the reader does not only get a ninth century vision of nation building (Alfred the Great's England) but also a 19th century version (Georgian/Victorian Britain) through the introduction by the Reverend James Ingram.

The following is very much a personal opinion. For me one of the joys of reading the Chronicle in this fairly raw format is that it allows a bit of amateur sleuthing. My 'discoveries' may be more iron pyrite than real gold, but they pleased me and I would welcome the comments of others. One element being that there is a brief period during Alfred's lifetime when the Chronicle has a fairly clear structure, after his death events such as his daughter's death and his son's conquests are far more confused suggesting that the primary author was writing from many diverse sources and was as a result far less clear about dates and even sequence of events. I would suggest that is because the guiding hand of Alfred is no longer there and completion of the chronicle may have waited until periods of relative peace. Some events recorded during the Alfred period I also believe were back filled (slightly asynchronously) long after the event. This is obviously true in respect of the ongoing case for the land rights of Peterborough abbey, which come from the Laud manuscript - which is known to be a late edition and is generally believed to have been written in Peterborough. The same back filled events are also reported in Asser's 'Life of Alfred', which to me is further proof (as suggested by Alfred Smyth in his book 'King Alfred the Great') that the biography was not written contemporaneously but by someone writing 100 years after the event with the benefit of hindsight.

For me, the chronicle is not a retelling of nation building; it is the tool that was used in nation building. Alfred stood alone facing an all-powerful Viking enemy. He desperately needed allies, he reached out to the Britons of what became Cornwall and Wales with little success, he even tried the beleaguered Celts of what is now Ireland. In the end he turned to the defeated Angles of Mercia and Northumbria and those few hold out free Angles in what is now Scotland. It was a rag-tag coalition which in reality had little more to unite them than a common enemy. Alfred needed to keep them together and brilliantly he realized that the two best tools he had were religion and nationalism. For this to work he needed a nation. That is why the first entry of the Chronicle states `..there are in the island five nations; English, Welsh, Scottish, Pictish and Latin'.

The rest of the Chronicle is mostly an attempt to convince the skeptical Jutes, Angles, Saxons and others that they were in fact English (and that he was their king). Before that English, if it had a meaning at all, was a willful corruption of Bede's description of an Anglian people and their Church. By disseminating the Chronicle through the clergy and stressing the Christian nature of his newly defined people, as opposed to the wicked paganism of the evil others (the Danes), Alfred was able to marshal the Christian `English' behind him and reverse the encroachment of the Vikings on his Kingdom. Long after Alfred's death his vision of England eventually came to be when his grandson briefly removed Danish rule from all that we now call England. Evidence, if ever there was, that the pen really is mightier than the sword.

Moving forward nearly 1000 years, a German family sits on a throne that spans four of Alfred's made up nations. The state had survived by the skin of its teeth conflicts with revolutionary France and it now faced new challenges to a monarchical world order that had already claimed prized possessions in North America. To survive a British nation was needed that could act as a central point for a sphere of influence that would become the largest empire the world had ever seen. Not surprisingly the British state turned to the Anglo Saxon chronicle for inspiration. Incredibly, this ancient book not only served as a template, its mythology proved robust enough to allow it to be used once more as a propaganda machine. I do not for one moment believe that the Reverend James Ingram was knowingly using the Chronicle in this way, but I do believe that Canning, William Pitt (the younger) and the Earl of Liverpool had quite intentionally worked to a point where simpler folk would be well disposed to a vision of a Protestant, Germanic British identity which they knew would fit well with Alfred's invented English identity. James Ingram's slightly pompous prose reflects that vision admirably.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle clearly went on beyond Alfred's lifetime, controlled by people with a less clear vision of what was needed, but mostly with an equal desire for stabilization of the nation state. Eventually, it became an anachronism: continuing perhaps as an act of resistance to the overlord Normans who had little to gain from its concept of nation hood. It fell first into disuse and then faded almost completely from view. The electronic version is prefaced with a description of how it was rediscovered and returned to its original purpose. This is a glorious detective story in its own right.
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on 30 December 2012
The summary says it all. This book is a gem for anyone who likes history, especially about the so-called dark ages.
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on 16 March 2012
A terrific buy on Kindle and an interesting read make this well worthwhile. Suffice to say that I am a history buff who has not traversed this time before.
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on 17 April 2013
Pleased with this fascinating kindle edition . If you are interested in this period of history you will find this of great appeal. The academics still hold different opinions with regard to the Chronicle but to an amateur it makes very interesting reading .
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on 26 February 2014
I have enjoyed this document/book insofar as it has given me a better insight into a time in English history that always seemed so obscure. It is not the easiest to read because of the lineages given and the variations in the content, but, it affords the reader the opportunity to draw interesting gobbets of information from the writings and to chew them over at leisure. I like it but there will be others who may not. All in all, for me, I am really pleased to have acquired this Chronicle.
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on 24 February 2015
I have a paperback edition, compiling the various manuscripts together already- but this one was useful for cross referencing and easy access. Not perhaps an Academic edition, but useful nonetheless for study and research- and for finding certain incidents or passages quickly. Reasonable and good value for money.....but I would recommend to use alongside other editions if engaged in serious study as this might not be considered authoritative by itself.
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on 18 September 2013
This is an important part of our history inaccurate as it is. It is seen by the Christians for example the Hon Bede.
And what is down re pagans is not fact.
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on 16 February 2014
The most amazing book of history ever written and a very good rendition of the original book clear pictures and easy to read.
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on 9 February 2014
Not the easiest book to read but gives anyone with an interest in old English history a fascinating insight into our past
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