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The Story of England [Kindle Edition]

Michael Wood
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $17.58 What's this?
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Book Description

The village of Kibworth in Leicestershire lies at the very centre of England. It has a church, some pubs, the Grand Union Canal, a First World War Memorial - and many centuries of recorded history. In the thirteenth century the village was bought by William de Merton, who later founded Merton College, Oxford, with the result that documents covering 750 years of village history are lodged at the college.

Building on this unique archive, and enlisting the help of the current inhabitants of Kibworth, with a village-wide archeological dig, with the first complete DNA profile of an English village and with use of local materials like family memorabilia, Michael Wood tells the extraordinary story of one English community over fifteen centuries, from the moment that the Roman Emperor Honorius sent his famous letter in 410 advising the English to look to their own defences to the village as it is today.

The story of Kibworth is the story of England itself, a 'Who Do You Think You Are?' for the entire nation. It is the subject of a six-part BBC tv series to be shown in autumn 2010.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Wood was born and educated in Manchester, and studied Modern History and later Anglo-Saxon History at Oxford. He has made over 100 tv films, and written four number-one bestselling books including In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and The Story of India. He lives in Hampstead, north London, with his wife and two daughters.

Product Details

  • File Size: 31237 KB
  • Print Length: 458 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670919047
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (September 30, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00457X7HW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,968 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I always take a little longer to read non-fiction - just the nature of the beast.

Michael Wood is a long-standing favorite of mine - in tandem with his television series. He truly is a rarity - a historian who knows how to popularize history without losing insight and scholarship.

When I heard about his The Story of England, I just had to get it straight away. The concept of depicting the culture and history of England from prehistoric times to modern day, through the archives and archaeology of a single set of village hamlets, was inspiring. And I can say that the reading validated my anticipation.

I particularly liked the medieval period of history, and the Tudors, but I can say that the book was interesting and insightful throughout. What I particularly liked was his ability to use contrasts and comparisons between different time periods (often with examples of families who lived in or near the locale for those represented periods), and expressing insightful patterns in history.

And of course, his writing is crisp, fluid, and even at times, poetic.

Perhaps the only criticism I can throw in - which does not undermine my rating of 5 for this work - is that the geography often mentioned of areas outside of the locale are not represented by maps. As a non-Englishman, I simply lose my sense of direction and geographical context when reading about various counties and cities. It would have been helpful to have a few extra maps.

I heartily recommend this book to any student of history or culture.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect English Village May 29, 2012
The best history is a mix of big-picture changes and an explanation of how those changes impacted on people. The villages of Kibworth appear to be the perfect vehicle for this - geographically situated in the middle of England, and fortutiously "owned" by Merton College Oxford since 1270, resulting in well-kept and well-preserved records.

This is generally a people's history: not one of Kings and Princes, although they pop up from time to time, but of the "ordinary" folk, freeholders and landless, artisan and labourer.

The prehistory side is comparatively lightly touched, but it is clear that the Kibworth area has been populated since before Roman times. There is then moving through the Roman period, the post-Roman Brittania, and the arrival of Saxons, Angles, and Vikings, more or less in that order. The location of Kibworth means it was affected by all these changes, and Mr Wood points out the various sources of surnames in the odd documents we have from that period, including one "Cybbe" who gave his (presumably his) name to the village site.

The Norman conquest is painted as a dark time in which it was unpleasant to be of English stock, and a reasonable case is made for that. After 1300, things seem to pick up, only for the Black Death to arrive, and in turn that great dying led to a new economic and social order - the rise of Lollardy, which seems to have sunk deep roots in Kibworth later flowering into nonconformism in the 1500's and thereafter.

The effect of the Enclosure Acts is covered off, and there is a pretty detailed look at the Victorian Kibworth - but then only a very brief consideration of the 20th century, including the Wars and post-war settlement.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enaging February 13, 2012
By anon
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed Michael Woods documentaries on TV and have always found his prospective on history engaging and insightful. I agree with the previous reviewer and would only add that The Story of England reads, exactly like how it sounds on TV. It's hard not to hear his voice in your head as you read through the book. I'd also add that his description of the post-roman period of English/European history was fascinating. I highly recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging historical perception of England September 8, 2014
The author has provided a well-illustrated, informative historical rendition including the traditional Anglo-Saxon story and subsequent social development of England up Victorian times, as seen through an engaging depiction of the progress of Kibworth, a Leicestershire village apparently with early origins starting well before the Roman occupation. Notably, perceived gradual and continuous cultural assimilation of immigrants with preexisting populations was imaginatively reconstructed, and seemingly broadly in line with burials analysis in that region undertaken with the latest technical methods. Although not considered in the given account, some of the presumed Celtic indigenous British population in Kibworth prior to the Anglo-Saxons may alternatively have had Germanic forebears. For example see for more contextual data on this specific point.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History with Heart May 21, 2014
English history can seem dull in books, or numbingly confusing, with all its similarly-named monarchs. This is the type of history and research that I love--the kind where people from the past seem to come alive, with descriptions of their work and lives in their own words. American viewers who enjoy Ken Burns's films, will love this!
Wood gets researchers and modern-day villagers into the act, digging archeological test pits, having their DNA tested, reading ancient accounts and personal letters.
The one minus is that each disc starts with a few ads which, annoyingly, cannot be fast-forwarded through by the remote--you must actually stand at the console to fast-forward through them. I understand that these ads helped to defray the film costs. But as someone who has paid for the DVD set, I feel that the advertisers are using my money to waste my time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by D.B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoy his work.
Published 5 months ago by Ronald Hutcheson
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable for a history buff
wasa gift recipient loves history books.
Published 7 months ago by Jimmy Quillen
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
most interesting.
Published 8 months ago by Raymond L. Mayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
A very interesting book about English history from a quite different angle than we usually get it. An interesting view into the lives of the common people over hundreds of years.
Published 9 months ago by Karl Peter Andersen
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect book!
I was searching for good and beautiful material about England's history. I found Michael Wood's The Story of England - DVD and I bought it. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Núbia Vargas Marafiga
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stories, but one big question - CORN??
I enjoyed the book, and particularly the take on a single town through history. The Merton records are obviously key, but engaging the townfolk in digging pits is great. Read more
Published 12 months ago by MtnMan1963
5.0 out of 5 stars Grass Roots History
Michael Wood, a superb communicator, a charismatic guide through history and legend, a diligent researcher, here abandons glamour and grandeur and tells his story literally in the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Carol Miller
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
Well written, great detail. Everything an Anglophile would need to be happy reading about the motherland. Worth the money and time.
Published 13 months ago by alex
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