Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King
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Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  58 ratings  ·  9 reviews
King Harold Godwineson (c.1022-66) is one of history's shadowy figures, known mainly for his defeat and death at the Battle of Hastings. His true status and achievements have been overshadowed by the events of October 1066 and by the bias imposed by the Norman victory. In truth, he deserves to be recalled as one of England's greatest rulers. Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon Ki...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by The History Press (first published August 1997)
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Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King, written by Ian W. Walker, was an in-depth history, of not only the end of an era of Anglo-Saxon reign, it also told the story of how closely that the actual Battle of Hastings was, and that at one point the battle was actually in King Harold's favor. But this book was also much more than that, it gave a lengthy background of not only King Harold's background, but enough background on King Edward the Confessor which allowed a somewhat better understanding of the...more
It's almost amazing how long 200+ pages can seem. I've read much longer books that didn't seem...well...like I was walking though quicksand wearing three layers of sweats. To say this book trudged along would be insulting to things that trudge.

That said, I did learn a lot from reading it. For the most part, Harold (you know, that guy that got died at the Battle of Hastings) is the forgotten man. He's known pretty much as "the guy that lost" and that's about it. This book delves into his family,...more
Ellen Ekstrom
Wow. I rarely do not suffer while reading history, but as I've whined in my updates, this was the longest 290 pages I've ever read. Mr. Walker gave us the complete history of Harold Godwineson's father, Godwin Wulfnothson, and his rise to power in the mid-eleventh century, the crisis of 1052, but almost glossed over Harold, the subject of his book!

I give the book four stars for the research, two stars for actually covering the career of Harold, who was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.

I should have read the reviews before starting to read this book.

It was clearly well researched. It is clearly about a fascinating character. It clearly has a great plot structure (who doesn't love those man-versus-man stories?).

What is not clear is why this book is so tedious.

Is it because so many pages are devoted to the career of his father? Yes, the family ties and history are obviously of import. Theories about how Godwin's actions and beliefs affected his son Harold are only briefly menti...more
I actually took about a week to read this - adding it late to my Goodreads feed. It does seem like a loooong 300 pages. Harold's father is covered in detail, but there is less about Harold, perhaps because we have lost so much information in the Norman conquest. If the writing style had been less grammatically convolutedl the man loves commas and when you are talking about three women named Gytha you need definitive punctuation to clarify who the subject is supposed to be. An easier system put i...more
Oct 22, 2013 Debbi rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone interested in British history or royalty
Finally finished! The book is not a difficult read, I simply found several distractions after beginning it. It is mostly well-written, although after being immersed in several years of using the Chicago Manual of Style, the author's use of passive voice and redundant phrasing jumped out at me.

Using the Bayeaux Tapestry and contemporary writings including William of Poitiers and William of Jumieges, Walker brings the usual dim picture of Harold Godwineson to life. He does not try to insert what m...more
Graham Lee
It's a dense read but worth it. I didn't know much about the period and this job does a good job of both describing the political scene in 11th century England and tying it to the wider European context. It's clear that the author goes out of his way to paint Harold Godwineson in a flattering light, for example his use of William of Poitiers is straightforward in some parts, fills in some equivocal sections with his own interpretation but he rejects it where it prefers William. Still a very deta...more
Ian W Walker shines a dazzling light on this part of what is often referred to as the dark ages. Not only does he write a thoroughly researched account of Harold's life, he also puts it in the context of the late Anglo Saxon period. this book is a labour of love and it comes over as such. There's detail enough to greatly inform you without your getting bogged down in the minutia of humdrum daily life. A superb read!
Raymond Brown
A tremendous story. Harold very nearly was not defeated by William, if not for the haste of moving between two battle fronts the outcome might have been entirely different. A very interesting tale of the strength of this English King.
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