Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: 1215: The Year of Magna Carta by Danny Danziger & John Gillingham

Synopsis: Surveying a broad landscape through a narrow lens, 1215 sweeps readers back eight centuries in an absorbing portrait of life during a time of global upheaval, the ripples of which can still be felt today. At the center of this fascinating period is the document that has become the root of modern freedom: the Magna Carta. It was a time of political revolution and domestic change that saw the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart, King John, and—in legend—Robin Hood all make their marks on history. The events leading up to King John’s setting his seal to the famous document at Runnymede in June 1215 form this rich and riveting narrative that vividly describes everyday life from castle to countryside, from school to church, and from hunting in the forest to trial by ordeal. For instance, women wore no underwear (though men did), the average temperatures were actually higher than they are now, and the austere kitchen at Westminster Abbey allowed each monk two pounds of meat and a gallon of ale per day. Broad in scope and rich in detail, 1215 ingeniously illuminates what may have been the most important year of our history. (from the online description)

Review: This is a well-done overview of the cultural, political, and economical landscape of England during the years surrounding the creation and implementation of the Magna Carta. While not in-depth, this is an excellent introductory to the era. I enjoyed the easy prose,\ and the light tone of the stories. Occasionally, subjects seemed out of place, which can be a bit muddling, but overall, the book flows well. Although this era is not a particular favorite, I enjoyed this book. And given that this is the time frame when Robin lived (or is rumored to have lived), I recommend this book.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 1-15-2015
Pages: 298

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