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British, German history texts

setzman (541053) writes | more than 9 years ago

User Journal 3

For some reason I've been interested in quality British and German history texts here lately. Any suggestions?For some reason I've been interested in quality British and German history texts here lately. Any suggestions?

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Can ye be more specific? (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 9 years ago | (#13616549)

Are you looking for just anything under the heading "German and English history", or did you have something in mind? Biographies, general overviews, histories of specific periods or regions, etc.?

Most of what I have is in the medieval period (surprise surprise) but I have some other stuff as well.

Here are a few picked off my shelf:

England in Europe: 1066-1453, edited by Nigel Saul. A collection of essays and articles examining England's central role in European history, explicitly trying to chip away at the insular view of English history.

The Wars of the Roses, by Charles Ross. A nice overview of the conflicts between York and Lancaster and the groups supporting them.

The Earliest English Kings, by D. P. Kirby. A scholarly (if a bit dry) work examining the Dark Ages period in England, drawing on Bede's Ecclesiastical History, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and various Lives and annals.

The Dark Ages, by Michael Wood. Certainly not as scholarly as Kirby's book above, but much more accessible and enjoyable to read. Wood's In Search of England was also fun to read.

The Germans, by Gordon Craig. An interesting dissection of the German psyche set against the backdrop of Germany's history.

I've got others, but unfortunately my library is still in a bit of chaos after the move...



Re:Can ye be more specific? (1)

setzman (541053) | more than 9 years ago | (#13617270)

Basically, general overviews based on decent scholarly research. I've seen a few on Amazon, but some of the reviews pointed to inaccuracies and little in terms of footnotes or bibliographies.

Re:Can ye be more specific? (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 8 years ago | (#13621620)

Well, I'd certainly stand by the recommendations I made above, but I'd also recommend the following:

Elizabeth, by David Starkey. An interesting book reviewing the life and personality of Gloriana, and the dangerous times in which she lived.

The Penguin History of England. A series of books focusing on various points in English history. At times a bit dry, but still interesting. One particular volume, Beginnings of English Society by Dorothy Whitelock, is particularly interesting from a social standpoint.

The Fontana History of Germany, 1780-1918: The Long Nineteenth Century, by David Blackbourn. Examines the breakup and downfall of the old Holy Roman Empire, the rivalry between Prussia and Austria, the rise of the Second Reich and World War I. The book has a tendency to sprawl and ramble, but it's a pretty complete look at German history of the period. Talks a little about Germany's colonial empire, which is a bit unusual for German history books.

Simon Schama's A History of Britain series and TV miniseries was entertaining, though it suffered from a severe case of false advertising: according to Schama, "Britain" apparently only means "England", as Scotland and Wales only get brief mentions when the English came in to stomp around on the locals. It also hurries through millennia of history in just three volumes, so it's not exactly very detailed.

Most anything by Michael Wood (Domesday, In Search of England, In Search of the Dark Ages) is worth a read, too.

For a bit of fun with legendary history, try Geoffrey Ashe's The Discovery of King Arthur. Ashe has the ugly habit of leaping to conclusions based on very thin circumstantial evidence, but it's still fun to read and think "what if". Essentially he tries to piece together who the "real" Arthur was, or more accurately the original "historical" Arthur on whom the legends later were based, and makes a good case that his guy Riothamus may have been the real thing; however, I think he stretches it in spots and gets a bit breathless. But I'd recommend it anyway.



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