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The Story of England Paperback – May 29, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More than just history, this a story of survival and adaptation after centuries of invasion. There is a lesson to be learned here that a people can endure terrible hardships,... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Fauxpas
Its the story of one English town thru history. Good detail but very readable. Check out the video also .Published 3 months ago by David A. Patt
This is a splendid overview of English history using a single village as the stage for exploration and interpretation. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James E. Jacobsen
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 20 months ago by Karl Peter Andersen