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Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More
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Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  481 ratings  ·  71 reviews
From ancient times to the present day, the story of England has been laced with drama, intrigue, courage, and passion-a rich and vibrant narrative of heroes and villains, kings and rebels, artists and highwaymen, bishops and scientists. Now, in Great Tales from English History, Robert Lacey tells those remarkable stories as only a great writer can: combining impeccable acc...more
Published June 3rd 2004 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2003)
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In questo primo volume di Great Tales from English History Robert Lacey racconta la storia Inglese dal 7150 a.C al 1381 d.C. Non si concentra solo sui momenti cruciali e sui grandi uomini che hanno fatto la storia. Cioè, lo fa, ma con humor e con attenzione al dettaglio poco conosciuto, che rendono quindi i già ben noti avvenimenti (come, ad esempio, la conquista normanna o la firma della Magna Carta) degni di nuova curiosità. Dicevo che Lacey non si concentra solo sulle grandi storie. Infatti m...more
Some highlights:

* Why do so few post-ice-age ancient human remains survive? Some archaeologists say it’s because relatives ate them.

* The Greek navigator Pytheas “almost certainly sailed around the [British] islands and was the first to describe the shape of Britain as a wonky triangle.”

* Early feminist hero: King Alfred’s daughter Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, who built ten walled communities and captured Derby and Leicester from the Vikings. Maybe celebrities will start naming their girl...more
History is always more interesting when it's told as a story, and Lacey approaches his topic from exactly that angle. He presents the history of England in a series of short vignettes, each focusing on an individual. Most of these individuals actually existed, but Lacey isn't afraid to tackle legendary personalities as well, with known facts contrasted against the legends and the impact those legends had.

Having so recently emerged from reading the latest two volumes of George RR Martin's Song of...more
This was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history. Legend is treated firmly, but sympathetically, and everywhere that primary sources can be quoted they certainly are.

I found this book both entertaining and informative. The bibliography in the back was quite extensive, and I was rather happy to see that it included some of the books that I've been using for reference.

I'd recommend this to anyone w...more
Cynthia Egbert
I cannot recommend these three volumes of work highly enough. History really is about the stories, in the end.
John Briggs
This book is history by vignette, a compliment that should be understood from the title. Extremely lengthy books have been written about some of the people and topics Mr. Lacey covers here in just a few short pages. These are "tales" of history, slices that give a lightning quick background on its subjects. Oftentimes I found myself wanting to know more about a subject, but I don't hold that against the author -- theses slices of history are meant to provide quick insights into the great figures...more
Even though I have read many books on medieval England, I still found this work to be quite informative. It was written to entertain as well as educate, which it did. It covers a huge span of time but it didn't feel like he skipped major events. It included snippets of primary sources as well. While reading, one learns about the origins of King Arthur, how the Bayeux Tapestry changed over the years, who invented our current dating system (using A.D.), and who Robin Hood could have been. The mona...more
Enjoyed every moment of this quick little read! The Anglophile in me couldn't put it down. Lots of fascinating historical tidbits in here.
Iosephus Bibliothecarius
When I first saw this book I knew it had potential; to me, presentation has a lot to do with my overall love for a book and this one is beautiful. After checking it out from the West Jordan library when I worked there, I found Mr. Lacey's writing to be exciting, interesting, and informative. In 2007, I set to reading the whole thing and I'm glad I did. The book presents short stories about moments from English history that you may or may not have heard of.

From the introduction: "Brief though ea...more
Justine Olawsky
We read this series before we went to London last year. If I remember correctly, Volumes I & II were very good and engaging and Volume III was considerably less so. If you are looking for an episodic approach to English history, this is a good place to start.
Pete Friend
Read this one in two days, extremely compelling, loved the level of detail and the choice of anecdotal information. have taken two books out from library by same author and could have taken half a dozen. really glad to have stumbled across him
Though this book is nothing more than a short, concise overview of English history from the prehistory until 1381 AD, I still had a blast reading this. Sure, the history isn't really spoken of in an in-depth way, but then I'm sure you shouldn't expect that if you see the magnitude of events that Lacey tries to cover in a relatively thin book!

It's not a dry book. It's funny, full of interesting little details. There's something here for everyone. As an orientation for English history, it is very...more
Daryn Hardy
A straight forward telling in short vignettes of characters and events from early history to late medieval times in Britain. The book is probably aimed at an American teen audience, but having said that I did learn a few little nuggets I didn't know about my home country, such as 'Elmer, the Flying Monk', leaping off the top of his abby and gliding 200m before crashing, many more centuries before the Wright Bros. efforts at manned flight. A good book to dip into if you have a few minutes to kill...more
Tim Ward
Really enjoyed this quick romp. A serious alternative to 1066 and All That. Useful and entertaining if you've read quite a bit of popular English history, but wouldn't mind a quick check to see where you might like to explore next, and has a vast list of further reading in the back. It's a real skate through. Queen Elizabeth the 1st and both World Wars get only an anecdote or two. But the panorama of gradually decreasing cruelty (from an extraordinarily repellent start) and lust for power is abs...more
I loved the first book in this series. It is wonderfully written and brilliantly read. I cannot wait to get started on the next two in the series! Anyone who loves history, especially England should read these.It is definitely going to add so much to our trip to England.
I read this every year. I will read it to my children. Lacey has everything it takes to be a great historian. Belief in God, but willing to point out flaws in the Catholic church. Love of his country, but able to condemn its tyrants. I think my favorite thing about this book is its theme that individuals can make a great difference in the course of history. Whether its philosophy, religion, government or art, this book chronicles some of the most important figures of early England. He writes sho...more
I've already read the other books in Lacey's series, but I'd somehow missed the first one. Finally got to it. This series is great for getting people into English history. The stories are kept pretty short and offer a good entry point. There are references and suggested titles for further reading if you're interested in a specific story. I read a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction set in medieval England, so I knew most of these stories already, but it's also a good refresher course if you...more
Becca Packer
it was good until I read a few historical inaccuracies and then I just got annoyed.
I'm very impressed with these books and recommend them highly.
“The truth about King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and more.” Lacey writes in an easily flowing style, with a sense of humor, and lots of interesting comments on the meaning of words and where they came from. Toward the end of the book there are several gory accounts of executions and what was done to bodies before or after death came. I could have done with all of them. Over all, I did learn some interesting British history, however.

Christopher Litsinger
This was a fairly nice survey of early English history, laid out in almost a short story format. I liked the author's approach quite a bit, but I found myself wanting more. I'll probably try to pick up some other books by him in the future ("Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia" looks tempting), and will probably be lured back to the other "Great Tales in English History" books at some point in the future.
Loved having this on my Kindle. His style is perfect and the stories sized nicely to fit into a waiting room visit or if you have 10 minutes before work. Any historical work is going to have a point of view (which he states at the outset) and there are some arguments I would have with him, but I would with any historical author. But these are "tales" and taken at face value, this was a pleasure, and probably my favorite of the three volumes.
I'm trying to read more nonfiction to get some real background on the stories I've been reading. This book was fantastic-it discussed several myths, legends and kings from England's past (think William the Conqueror and the early Henrys) in an entertaining, conversational tone. The author has written more books along this line and I'm looking forward to reading them.
Joan Lloyd
I took this book out of the library because of a recommendation (I've no memory of who or where) and the first few vignettes were interesting. Then it became a textbook of English history, episodic and a bit dry. I gave up about halfway through.
Very readable and enjoyable little snippets of history. Good "before bed" reads, coffee table reads, or anytime one has a little bit of time to invest. Great story-telling for some possibly dry material.

I think if I had a library around I would definitely finish the series, but buying it is my only option and I don't think I will.

Nov 25, 2007 Meaghan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglophiles and history buffs
Although Lacey can hardly go in-depth in a series of essays only a few pages long each, he does some delightful surface-skimmings here. This book is sure to pique the reader’s interest in English history. I would recommend for adolescents and adults. Children would also find it interesting, but it's quite violent.
A moderately interesting, if very superficial, retelling of some of the earliest popular stories/legends/myths/history of England. Lacey strives for a storytelling tone as he recounts each tale before examining it for accuracy.

The bibliography in the back certainly lends weight to Lacey's conclusions.
On one hand, I really like the choices Lacey has made. This book is readable for people that enjoy history, and I can see myself reading these short stories to my son as soon as he gets into elementary school. On the other hand, there isn’t much there.

For a full review
I started reading this a while ago, then mis-shelved it ;). It is the first of three books inspired by H.E.Marshall's storytelling approach to history. Easy to read, lots of anecdotes, and short chapters which make it good to pick up if I have just a few minutes to sit down and read.
Of the many books on British history I've read recently, this is my favorite. The episodes that Lacey relates are fascinating and Lacey presents them in such an entertaining way that the overall effect is a joy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical tales.
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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
More about Robert Lacey...
The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia Great Tales from English History, Vol 2: Joan of Arc, the Princes in the Tower, Bloody Mary, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Isaac Newton & More Great Tales from English History Grace

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