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on 31 May 2003
If you've seen the fascinating Channel 4 series of the same name, you'll appreciate Morris's unique ability as a TV academic to present quite complex historical events lucidly, and in an entertaining manner. Fortunately, he writes in just the same way.
As a result this is not a boring, plodding account of 600 years of castle building in Britain. Nor is it merely a coffee table book full of pretty photographs and drawings but lacking in historical content, like so many other books on castles. Morris manages to strike a fine balance between the two extremes.
In this book, and indeed in the series, Morris manages to make what are essentially piles of ruined stone seem exciting places with great stories.
The six chapters in the book mirror the content of the six programmes in the series. So you start with William the Conqueror introducing the motte and bailey castle as a weapon of conquest in 1066 and finish with the English Civil War and the destruction of castles in Britain. Along the way, you see (through excellent photos and illustrations) how 'the castle' evolved over six centuries, both physically and conceptually. Morris's big (and convincing) argument is that castles are not just military fortresses, but comfortable homes with lavish furnishings.
Read this book and you'll not only want to go and visit all the castles featured, but you'll never look at a castle again in quite the same way.
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on 27 June 2003
This book is highly informative, well written and takes a completely different approach. Morris focuses upon not only the history of the castle itself but upon the reasons for their construction on behalf of their builders such as Edward Dallingridge (Bodium) and Archibald the Grim.
Having always had an interest in castles personally and having written my University Dissertation about why castles were built in certain places this text ranks amongst the best. Morris offers useful ideas and concepts with well supported arguements and material.
Morris could perhaps have mentioned a few more castles and perhaps concentrates upon a select few within each of his chronologically organised chapters, especially those built in Yorkshire around the time of the Harrying by William I (1069).
On the whole an excellent read which suggests new concepts in castle building. I very much enjoyed it.
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on 30 May 2012
A really excellent book on the architecture, history, and politics behind castles. Not only do we learn how they were built, but why, and why at that precise location. Furthermore it is all done in a very captivating style, that makes you want to go and visit the places. This is my third book I've read by Mr. Morris ("The Norman Conquest" and "A great and terrible King"), they are all great and very informative reads. An absolute must for everyone interested in (English) medieval history.
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on 15 April 2013
This book proved very informative and interesting. The author obviously has a great knowledge of his subjects, as in his other books
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 September 2017
Not what l enjoy reading. It is too intense for me. I prefer a catalogue type of book. Illustrations, listings and short explanations. This is not. If you enjoy the, where, how, when, why and if, type of writing. Then this is for you. I would prefer to watch a good film instead,
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on 23 June 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was very readable, informative and well written. I shall read it again in another year or so.
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on 17 July 2003
This book is an excellent read. The author has managed to keep the text detailed and informative without being too dry or boring. His passion for the subject matter shines though and his enthusiasm is infectious. The way in which the book is written makes it easy to pick up and put down without having to recap previous chapters.
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on 7 October 2009
I bought this book without any prior knowledge, just chose it on Amazon for some reason.
It turned out to be a very engaging and informative read. Marc Morris is an excellent writer, the topic of castle history can be very boring, but he manages to make it exciting, fascinating and entertaining! He suggests several criteria to look for while evaluating castles and suggests the structure into which to classify your knowledge about castles. He chooses one particular example of a "typical" castle for each epoch and covers its history in great detail while providing info about other castle of the period.
I am in love with this book and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who wants to learn about British castles.
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on 11 July 2014
This book kept me interested from the word go. The way Marc Morris writes leads every tale into another in the most fluid of motions. As somebody relatively new to learning about castles, this really did bridge the gap between my childhood fascination with castles and my adult knowledge of castles.
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on 18 August 2014
I live with the view of a ruined castle from my windows and although i know it's history ( or as much as one is able to find out) i wanted to know more about castles without too much technical details. This book answered that need . Highly recommended.
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