Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Great Tales from English History Vol 2

Posted by nliakos on July 27, 2008

by Robert Lacey (Little, Brown 2004)

I picked this off the shelf because Vicki was doing a project on Henry VIII’s six wives for summer school, then got so engrossed that I read the whole thing! This volume covers English history from Chaucer (1387) through Newton (1687). Each chapter is only a few pages long but manages to convey a lot of information in a very interesting way. Lacey succinctly tells the true (so far as is known) stories of Joan of Arc, the Princes in the Tower, the struggle between Catholics and Protestants, the King James Bible and its predecessor, William Tyndale’s translation of Scripture…over 50 chapters in all. Many of the events and people were new to me, but for Lacey’s intended audience of Britishers, the book would clarify and explain much that they would have grown up “knowing” about, but not really (I think of all the misbegotten ideas Americans grow up with concerning our history–Cf Lies My Teacher Told Me). He points out how much of what we think we know about Richard III and others, for example, comes from Shakespeare’s plays, but Shakespeare was after all not a historian but an entertainer (makes me think of JFK). I wish I could remember all the fascinating facts and stories in the book! It has inspired me to read Volume 1.

For EFL/ESL readers interested in English history, this book should be good because the language is not overly difficult and the chapters, as I mentioned, are short.

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