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In the Reign of King John by Dan Jones.


A beautifully printed book with many many matt colour pages, a reason on its own to buy the book. The book itself describes a year in the King's reign, but in reality gives a wonderful picture of medieval life. The year chosen, naturally, is 1215, the year of Magna Carta. Yet, the contents are far wider than merely The Great Charter itself, and emphasise life in medieval England in general; a cursory glance at the index demonstrates this - beards, cats, fishing, hairstyles, Islamic scholarship, language, roads, sapping, and so much more.

A must for anyone interested in The Middle Ages.


Haldane by John Campbell.


A lengthy and fascinating biography of the man who modernised the British Army, just in time for The Great War. Campbell describes his subject as a philosopher- politician, now sadly it would seem an extinct breed. Yet, Haldane deserves to be far better known for there is a lot more to achievements than merely the Army Reforms. Not always appreciated in his own day, his life and thoughts are most relevant today; yet we still await a politician of his stature to arise. As Campbell says, 'Amidst political and national instability, it is time to reinstate Haldane as Britain's outstanding example of true statesmanship'.


Milligan's War Selected War Memoirs of Spike Milligan


If the above sounds too earnest, although I promise you it isn't, then a tonic for these difficult times is Spike Milligan's accounts of his war service, as a rather unconventional soldier. This book is, as it says, a selection from the series of books that Milligan published on his army days. Start with this overview and then you have the whole series to look forward to on bleak winter evenings. Three of the books' titles, with extracts in this selection, are themselves fun, viz Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall, Monty: His Part in My Victory, and Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall.


The Year 1000 by Valerie Hansen


The book covers the globe, ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, from Greenland to China, in an argument that says that globalisation, and resistance to it as well, was around a thousand years ago. Using meticulous historical and archaeological research this Yale History Professor argues her case with brio. How can anyone interested in history resist such a pot pourri of the past ?

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