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The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0192854032
ISBN-10: 0192854038
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


John Blair is Fellow and Prelector in Modern History, The Queen's College, Oxford. His publications include Early Medieval Surrey (1991), Anglo-Saxon Oxfordshire (1994), Ministers and Parish Churches (1988), English Medieval Industries (1991), The Cloister and the World (1996), and The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society (forthcoming).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 1 edition (July 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854032
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 4.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve on January 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the main text being only 75 pages, this is a very short Very Short Introduction, but an excellent one nonetheless. It covers the years 450 to 1066, but with just a cursory glance at events before 600. It is fact-packed and readable, with good illustrations, including two very useful maps. You should certainly read Roman Britain: A Very Short Introduction before this, and ideally, The Celts: A very Short Introduction, before that. This particular book leaves the reader with a strong sense of how much the Anglo-Saxon age shaped England's landscape and culture. If you want a broad overview of British history, this may be all you need for this period. If you intend to delve deeper into the era, this is a great place to start.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By The Wanderer on April 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of the idea behind the Very Short Introduction series, and the way in which they provide information in an easily accessible manner. John Blair's "The Anglo-Saxon Age", while not the best example in the series, is certainly up there.

The book is set out in roughly chronological fashion, tracing the political development of England from the earliest settlements in c.450 through to that famous date of English history, 1066. Where it becomes appropriate, Blair takes the opportunity to bring in developments in society, religious culture, and trade and the economy - and it must be said that this structure works very well. The book contains plenty of illustrations to give flavour to the information. There is a list of suggested further reading at the back, which is commendable, although it could be more extensive considering the size of the subject concerned. Similarly, although there are maps to provide context, just two isn't quite enough to show the complex political and territorial changes.

To cover the entire Anglo-Saxon period - a whole six centuries - in just 90 pages (only 75 of which are the main text) was always going to be a tall order. Compare this with "The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction", which weighs in at 150 pages, a better length which allows for a more in-depth study of the subject matter. As a result "The Anglo-Saxon Age" remains only an overview of the subject, although a very respectable one. It is more easily digestible and certainly less daunting than one of the standard histories, such as "Anglo-Saxon England" by Frank Stenton (although that might be more useful for a student of medieval history).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jordan M. Poss VINE VOICE on October 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Blair does something in this book that I had thought impossible: he handles over 600 years of history quickly and easily. Well under 100 pages, this book is not only "very short" but very understandable.

Blair begins with some background on Roman-occupied Britain, but the story begins in earnest with the Roman withdrawal and the invasions of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes from mainland Europe. From there Blair describes the development of Anglo-Saxon government and culture, giving lots of time to the Viking invasions and English attempts to fight back.

Overall, this book is a very good, fast-paced (only 75 pages!) guide to the Anglo-Saxon age. Blair covers all the major topics and even has some time for cultural development, including describing the impact of the English outside of England. The book tends to focus more on the later Anglo-Saxon era, from Alfred the Great to the Norman conquest, but this is really more of a matter of how sparsely documented the early years of the period are.

Recommended to anyone hoping for a quick guide to Anglo-Saxon England.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Brown on February 1, 2009
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Would I ever go to A Very Short Introduction as a definitive text for something? No, never. But I would head there for a great overview of anything. The series provides a ton of useful information about the subject matter (in this case, The Anglo-Saxon Age). Blair covers many of the art, literary and historical events that defined the age. It's a very short introduction, but it does its job well.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Karen R. on July 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This very short introduction may have been a little too short. But I did learn quite a bit - I'll just have to supplement it with other reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kikeo58 on January 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In a terse era, this work resembles a movie teaser or a wikipedia synopsis. I appreciate the bare bones information. The work invites you to learn more. That is good. Fiction books such as the Cornwell books have more detail but you do not know what is history. Even Kirk Douglases "The Vikings" has a kernel of history in the nonsense. (This kindle editor is so unwieldy. Impossible to proofread.) This essay fills in some well appreciated background. Now if I can find the complete story somewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on May 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The history of Britain is an endlessly fascinating subject. British Isles have been inhabited from the prehistoric times to the present, but the people who made it home have changed over the centuries. Nonetheless, it can be safely argued that in the mind of today's public the principle cultural and ethnic heritage of most of English people can be traced to the Germanic invasions of Angles and Saxons in the late antiquity.

This short book aims to present a gentle introduction to Anglo-Saxon age. These invaders have left very few written records, so the earliest ideas that we have of them are based on the archeological evidence. From such evidence it is possible to get a picture of what the life in British Isles was like during this period. One of the more interesting aspects of this book are the numerous etymologies of the places and geographical features that can be traced to the old English words. The book pays particular attention to the way that Christianity has shaped the Anglo Saxon society. The image that emerges is one of a fairly sophisticated society, much more advanced than our ideas of the Middle Ages may lead us to believe.

Overall, this is a very readable and informative book on one of the most momentous periods in British history.
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