‘The Rise and Fall of the Aragonese-Catalan Empire 1200-1350: Volume II’, J. Lee Shneidman

As is typical lately, something went wrong when I bought this book. Namely, instead of obtaining Volumes I and II, I got only Volume II. The book says “St Louis University Library” on the side, and I have half a thought that someone might turn up looking for it, but at least I got some of the money I paid back for the non-existent first volume.

This all happened months ago, and I started with Volume II, probably because I had very little else to do at the time. However, for a solid history book I found it a surprisingly good read and have enjoyed it since. That is, to rephrase: I enjoyed it when I read it in September, and I enjoyed finishing it this month. Typically, again, I managed to finish 70% of the book, and then something else caught my attention. A week ago, however, I managed to go back and play catch-up so that I have now finished the three last chapters I avoided when I read it originally.

To clarify the two volume structure: both of the volumes are divided into two parts, and Parts 3 and 4 concern themselves with Foreign Policy and Centralization. So, in effect, I received a very good overview of the foreign policy of the Aragonese-Catalan realm and of the struggle that the king-counts faced in order to enhance their authority.

Jerome Lee Shneidman’s style is very readable — indeed, I would say that this is a prime quality of the book and that I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be this friendly. I cannot really comment on the research done here since I have not the slightest of ideas what new revelations have come up in the last 40 years, but I would believe the book to still formulate a very good and solid overview into the history of that realm.

And, yes, the first volume should be on its way towards me now. Hopefully…

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