Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 2, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

This is a superb overview of the problems and successes of the British in about a hundred years after the beginning of the 19th century. India is covered in depth up to the point of Victoria being made Empress, and the story also presents one of the most factual investigations of the Indian Mutiny that’s still very comprehensible.

However, what I liked unutterably more than the question of what was covered was the tone with which it was done. The most memorable phrase mentioned in this volume — to me — was “The British sometimes enjoy being spiteful to their heroes.” This, coming after countless descriptions of men and women who performed their uttermost to help both people they belonged to as well as treat everyone equally and honestly, was a crushing but ultimately truthful statement.

Other stories covered herein, such as that of Mungo Park, illustrate the complacency and backwardness of these would-be imperialists. And, overall, a lot of the injustices done by the British in their various locations come through very well here as the author has also quoted plenty of modern historians from those places, offering insights other histories (especially concerning India) have not done as well.

Review: The Celtic World, Jennifer Paxton

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is quite directly an overview of the Celts as it is understood by the most recent researchers: Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Man, Ireland, Britanny, Gaul and Galicia are treated alongside a brief look into the Hallstatt and La Tene cultures — though not all of these places at the same level of detail. Literature, art and modern conceptions of the former peoples are all treated in some detail, and the connection of the past to the present is done very nicely. Continue reading “Review: The Celtic World, Jennifer Paxton”

Review: The Private Lives of the Saints, Janina Ramirez

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

It is my innate liking of Anglo-Saxon Britain which makes me rate this at 3.5/5 rather than any particular strength of the book. Indeed, I think that while it is an illuminating look into many people who otherwise do not get a deserved mention in more secular histories, the look into every individual here is quite shallow and generally based on a well-known story or feature. Rarely do we encounter even a conjecture of what their “private” life was like, and even where the author’s mention of “interesting results” is common, these results are communicated down to the reader in a very poor manner. Continue reading “Review: The Private Lives of the Saints, Janina Ramirez”

Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 1, Christopher Lee

Rating: 4 out of 5

‘Empire’s first installment sounded a bit weaker to me than my recollections of the previous series’. This could be due to an error on my part, remembering wrong what I thought of the previous ones, especially as I am at a loss to say what was missing. A gripping narrative interwoven with historical citations and the story of the development of Britain (and the modern world) doesn’t leave much to be said, if one appreciates that the level of detail will not be perfect if the subject matter spans five hundred years.  Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 1, Christopher Lee”

Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

It was very easy for me to pick up another volume of ‘This Sceptred Isle’ as I absolutely adored the general historical collections I went through earlier this year. The one doubt I had was to do with this one’s name: “Dynasties”. I thought that though the Plantagenets and Windsors have their charms, it might not be that interesting. Firstly, I was mistaken — this deals with the common(er) dynasties (and the people who have actually been influential), and secondly, it was very interesting indeed to go through the stories of so many families. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee”

Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 2, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle Collection 2: 1702 - 1901: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle Collection 2: 1702 – 1901: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sometimes have the feeling that I end up praising literature too often, and this one here again makes me want to crown this work with all the laurels one could. It’s not even that it’s perfect, but there’s a lot more that ‘This Sceptred Isle’ does well than poorly, and it does so with good style. Frank Bridge’s opening music is a good example; by the end of this series I was definitely humming along every time another chapter started. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 2, Christopher Lee”

Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC - 1702: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC – 1702: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a delightful history, a lot more complex than I would have expected from my first impressions. There were some good inconsistencies that get promoted quite often (such as “The Unready”) which this series also delightfully corrected. Furthermore, the show included a number of illustrative stories of the time (such as the dialogue between Edward I and Roger Bigod on each others’ rights). Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee”

Review: ‘In the Land of Giants’, Max Adams

In the Land of Giants: Journeys Through the Dark AgesIn the Land of Giants: Journeys Through the Dark Ages by Max Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

High 2.5.

I think this work is too complicated to follow easily — it is not only a travelogue and narrative history but also stretches a bit into modern politics but more into archaeological descriptions. While individually all of these may be very enjoyable, the book was missing structure. Continue reading “Review: ‘In the Land of Giants’, Max Adams”

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar is a beast. It’s unlucky for it that a far more well known place is located within only a few miles, and that the more well known place is Edinburgh Castle which is both less historic and less awe-striking as well. Nevertheless, that is the situation right now and there’s little that can be done about “the Second Castle of Edinburgh” as some seem to call it. Continue reading “Craigmillar Castle”

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑