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Great Tales from English History, Vol 2: Joan of Arc, the Princes in the Tower, Bloody Mary, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Isaac Newton & More

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  453 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Unforgettable stories from the England of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and beyond-the rich second volume of great tales by a master of British popular history.
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Little Brown and Company (first published November 4th 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,049)
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Ben Babcock
This is the third in a somewhat unintentional trio of books set (or partially set) in seventeenth-century England. It’s “somewhat” because once I got them all from the library, I decided to read them consecutively and see how such a thematic grouping affected my perception of them. Alas, all three have been somewhat disappointing. I find Elizabethan England fascinating, and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the reigns of James I, Charles I, the Commonwealth, the Restoration, etc. How ...more
Feb 12, 2008 Sheldon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Shelley Piedmont
Recommended to Sheldon by: Sheldon Meister
This is an extremely readable book about historical figures in English history. The chapters were short, so the book lent itself easily to utilizing brief snatches of time. I've always been rather hazy on which monarchs came after which monarchs and where old Oliver Cromwell fitted in. I think anyone who reads this book would be favorably disposed to reading more English history if it were written in the same vein. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Joan of Arc which made her almost human. If h ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it
Part 2 of Lacey's quick overview of British history. Like book 1, this is a very concise summary of what's happened, though he provides an extensive bibliography for extra reading.

I have quite a lot of fun with these books, despite the fact that I'll probably have forgotten the names of all the rulers tomorrow. Still, not a bad way to spend your time and definitely a good introduction to British history.
Nov 10, 2008 Pam rated it it was amazing
All those fascinating stories from English History you can never keep straight, re-told beautifully. Lacey cruises from one major figure to the next, enlivening each one with the best details and leaving out what you never wanted to know anyway. These stories live and breathe, fill you with sympathy and horror, and leave you remembering more about English history than you ever thought possible.
Cynthia Egbert
Apr 15, 2014 Cynthia Egbert rated it really liked it
Yes, I am reading these books out of order because that is how the library sent them to me. I don't care, I can now go back to volume one with little hassle. I cannot recommend these three volumes highly enough if you have a love for or a desire to understand more of English history. There are a number of things that I have had to write down that I want to study at greater depth, but the overview that Mr. Lacey offers is superb. Even my children would have to admit that they got caught up in som ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A pretty good walk through of the major events in middle English history. A little disjointed but nevertheless an interesting read.
Apr 26, 2016 Sanjana rated it really liked it
Wow, what a great read! Non-fiction can be very tedious if it's not done right, however this book captured my attention from beginning to end.

Many people don't tend to pick up non-fiction, because they think that the book will just be an endless list of facts, and that will bore them. "Great tales from English History, Vol. 2" is told like a story, and that's what people crave these days. A good story. My only problem with the book, was that each "story" was kind of short, and I hoped that Lacey
Lady Dixie
Initally, I'd intended to read this selectively, picking and choosing the entries that interested me most. However, I soon found myself reading it in its entirety. Lacey's writing is vivid and pithy, funny at times, and properly reverent when warranted. Each tale is brief -- about 2-3 pages on average -- and descriptive enough to satisfy your curiosity, while making you hungry to read more on each topic.

There are some notable gaps in this volume. There's no information on Jack the Ripper, David
I reviewed the previous book in this series, though right now I can't find a copy of the third one.

This book was much the same as the previous one, though the content has changed now to encompass the War of the Roses period and the general political climate that that encompassed. The stories were interesting, and the bibliography at the back rather good. I quite liked the fact that Robert Lacey included both Museums and Gardens, books and websites - primary sources are great. I sent several reco
Dec 07, 2013 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Ah, history. The torch of truth and the destroyer of prejudice (supposedly). I used to love history, just like reading a novel but with all the good parts.

Authors like Robert Lacey try to make history read very much like a novel, and to a certain extent they succeed. The language is appropriate, considering it is a 'history-in-brief' book, while Lacey tries to make his book as informative as possible while maintaining the general appeal. I must admit that even though I like to think of myself a
May 28, 2016 Holly rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I liked the way this was written. Very much like a story. Colorful, straight to the point, and with interesting tidbits along the way. It wasn't dry at all.

Just a note, though, some of his information is now outdated, particularly his chapter on Richard III, now that we've found the body. But hey, that's what happens when we keep making new discoveries and it's not like he could have known then that we'd find the king who had been missing for over 400 years.
Feb 03, 2009 Sharon rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I gave this three stars because I would not suggest that anyone pick it up for casual fun. For what it is, though, it's excellent. Extremely readable, and if you're curious about the subject, it's a wonderful way to get some information. I checked it out because I wanted to know the story of Oliver Cromwell, how he came to lead England, how he was associated with the army, what he believed. And this book summed up what I need to know to be culturally literate on the subject, in about three four- ...more
Deanna Against Censorship
Apr 21, 2014 Deanna Against Censorship rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
First this is not a book for the serious student of history. It is a book of a timeline of history filled with interesting little tidbits of history. It is enjoyable. I listened to this book. I usually (make that never) like an author reading his/her own writing. Sorry Jessica Fletcher. Lacey is the exception. He makes the book funny and sad yet always intriguing. A fun way to introduce history to a reluctant reader. I love history and I love these books.
Oct 13, 2015 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: history, fact
This book is very basic and leaves out a lot of information that would generally be considered as very important to understanding the history of what was being told.

I did enjoy this book as I'm always interested in history but I did find some glaring mistakes which were extremely disappointing considering how much source material was used and there being more than one contributor to this who are meant to be "historians".
Jan 13, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing
A Real Treat As An Audiobook

Robert Lacey has done something that many writers have failed to do (unfortunately) - he has written history in a fun, accessible, easy to grasp manner. After all, as Lacey points out in his introduction to Volume 1, the "history" and "story" come from the same Latin root word. Essentially, history should be the simple story of how things happened, to the best of the teller's knowledge.

Lacey's power as a storyteller is highlighted here in spades. He narrates his audio
Jun 08, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While preparing for my trip to London this summer, I decided it would be good to brush up on my English history. This book was perfect! This was my first time reading a book by Robert Lacey (I skipped over Vol. 1), but I plan to purchase Vols. 1 and 3 of this book. Lacey had a very enticing writing style, breaking down history into short little anecdotes. I particularly enjoyed the "mysteries" of the Lost Colony and the princes in the tower. Neither of these were stories I had heard before and I ...more
Dec 28, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
English history lite. Well-researched and compellingly written snippets, just enough to whet your appetite. Reminded me of the Classics Illustrated comic books I devoured as a child. Fun to pick up in between sessions with the heavier novel you are reading. Unless you are a history major and already know all this stuff.
May 20, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs and Anglophiles
This short book was a joy to read. The writing was snappy and conversational, and Lacey chose to focus on the influence of individual people's lives on history rather than on impersonal descriptions of battles, politics, and mass movements. As a result, the book was infused with a lot of personal detail that you often have to dig for in bigger history books. My only complaint about this book is that for some reason, Lacey didn't have a chapter devoted to Shakespeare, even though he would have fi ...more
David R.
Jul 04, 2015 David R. rated it really liked it
Lacey provides a series of engaging stories about England between Chaucer and Newton. Almost all of this material is well known (e.g. the wives of Henry VIII, the Glorious Revolution, the Princes in the Tower) but Lacey gives it something new. Wonderful reading!
Pete Friend
Aug 29, 2014 Pete Friend rated it really liked it
This book is excellent, I'm loving this author, I hope he releases some more books soon
Caleb Poon
Apr 28, 2015 Caleb Poon rated it really liked it
Inspiring tale telling with unpretentious honesty and British pride.
Jan 17, 2014 Christina rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Like the first volume, this is a series of short essays on important events and people from English history. I like Lacey's style: informal and with a fair amount of humor. This is a nice way to brush up on English history.
Sep 28, 2010 Antonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
a nice "highlights of english history" book. i enjoyed the writing and the chosen episodes were also highly interesting. and i will also, when it crosses my way - get the other similar books out of the library.

it just lacked the wow-factor to give it more than three stars. it was nice and a great addition to introductory history books. in nice easy readable chunks for people who sometimes just need something to read for five minutes or so and be done with it.
H. P. Reed
Mar 08, 2014 H. P. Reed rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Robert Lacey writes English in brief very well. It is somewhat amusing now to see how wrong historians were about Richard III crooked back. Lacey emphatically states the unlikelihood of Richard's back being crooked. As of last year's discovery of poor Richard's bones we know that Shakespeare was right. Still, Lacey's stories are entertaining. They are best appreciated by newcomers to English history, buffs in the making.
Apr 23, 2007 Joel rated it liked it
It was a solid overview of a fair chunk of English histroy, and I read it before going to England in order to have a better grasp of the relationships and stories which I knew so little of. For that, it was good.

It would be a good book on the toilet, or a good between books book, something that doesn't get you too involved, and is broken into quick, managable chapters.
Nov 14, 2008 Lauri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes history with intelligence, humor and real people
Again, this is one of those books I love listening to - the author reads his work in a wonderful British accent. The sectons are short and filled with wit and information. I learned so much. I read it out of order. I am about to start Vol.I and plan to read Vol. III (which I can't find in an audio version, unfortunately.)
Oct 30, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In Great Tales from English History, Robert Lacey tracks important events from the beginning of the Tudor’s reign to the end of the Stuarts. He includes major (and well known) events as well as less widely known interesting tidbits. The narrative style makes this book interesting and fun. A great resource and read!
Keri Daskam
Mar 10, 2011 Keri Daskam rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-8
My suspicion is that volume two will be my favorite of the series. This book is heavy on the golden years of monarchy with Henry VII, VIII, and Elizabeth I featuring prominently throughout. It was a great lesson in the Tudors and Stuarts, and one I thouroughly enjoyed.

Onto the next and final volume!
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 27, 2011 Daniel Kukwa rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another all around excellent research tool that works equally well as history-for-personal-enjoyment. However, the one caveat I have is that a few of the entries fall on the state-the-obvious end of the scale, spoiling runs of some more interesting write-up's.
Oct 25, 2009 Tara rated it it was ok
It wasn't all that great, but if you are interested in English history, you may like it. It gives a VERY short descriptionof popular English tales, but not much actual historical background. Just tells the tales as they were told years ago. Not bad, but not great.
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Robert Lacey is a British historian noted for his original research, which gets him close to - and often living alongside - his subjects. He is the author of numerous international bestsellers.

After writing his first works of historical biography, Robert, Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Ralegh, Robert wrote Majesty, his pioneering biography of Queen Elizabeth II. Published in 1977, Majesty remains
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