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Great Tales from English History, Vol 1

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,028 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
With insight, humor and fascinating detail, Lacey brings brilliantly to life the stories that made England--from Ethelred the Unready to Richard the Lionheart, the Venerable Bede to Piers the Ploughman.
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by Little, Brown and Company
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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
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stand-alone
Finally! I have finished this book!

I have been slowing making my way through this book for about a year or so and it has been an interesting one. Most of the chapters (really I can only remember one about cricket that wasn't) were really interesting and there are so many subjects and stories that have attracted my attention that I need to look into more. If you are interesting in a very simple book which features some of the highlights of the history of the United Kingdom I can highly recommend
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
Cynthia Egbert
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-and-read
I cannot recommend these three volumes of work highly enough. History really is about the stories, in the end.
Liza Lorenz
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review @

Last summer, while staying in a friend's apartment, I happened upon this book. Since I didn't finish it while there, I purchased my own copy of this fun and fascinating read. Okay, I can see you already searching for the phone number of the man with the net to come get me. A history book? Is she mad? Didn't we suffer enough in school? Believe me, I know, but before you make that call, hear me out, because this book has everything your 7th-grade history class lacked:
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought a copy of Great Tales From English History because having been a resident of this fine land for 4.5 years I felt my historical knowledge was lacking. I've walked past Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square countless times but had no real idea what he actually did apart from "something to do with Napoleon". You can't sneeze in this country without hitting a street, building or tree named after Queen Victoria or Prince Albert but again, what were they? And why do the French hate the English ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Alex Dolan
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book has taught be fascinating insights into iconic moments in English history. For example:

A female warrior queen, Boadicea, fought against the Romans when they came to England. She is rumored to be buried under platform 10 at King's Cross station, which is why JK Rowling had the Hogwarts Express depart at platform nine and three-quarters.

Readers can learn the interesting truths behind Lady Godiva, Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart, all written in funny and fluid prose. A great example
Jul 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Basic, entry level fodder that parrots clichéd, often widely disproved false truths and generally adds nothing to the canon.
If you got this book for free and know nothing about history, feel free to read.
If you know the slightest bit about European/British history and aren't a simpleton, don't waste your time.
Feb 05, 2017 marked it as put-aside-for-now
Since it has been 2 years since I have even looked at this book, I am pretty sure that I am done with it! (It must not have been all that interesting!)
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed every moment of this quick little read! The Anglophile in me couldn't put it down. Lots of fascinating historical tidbits in here.
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. It was light, but entertaining.
Joe Johnson
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-history
I enjoyed this first volume of of Great Tales from English History. The author has broken out some of the more interesting episodes from English history, beginning with the ancient times and ending with the Peasants Revolt of 1381. Each "tale" is just a few pages, so it easy to put this book down and pick it up again later. While it may be difficult to get an overall view of England during these years, the author does provide some background and connection between some of the tales.

This is proba
Pete daPixie
A brief compendium, 'Great Tales from English History: Cheddar Man to the Peasant's Revolt' covers smithers of events from post ice age man to King Richard II. Robert Lacey's easy, and at times humorous style, written in short chapters, could be ideal for junior readers.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure this broad sweep of English history is covered in the national curriculum these days on account of something called political correctness.
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this over a couple of months, dipping in every now and then for little nuggets of enjoyment. This is not a serious history book in the sense that the facts of a period of time or historical event is explored in great depth, these are as the title says 'tales', which includes fact and fiction. It's not just the history that makes up the a nation's consciousness, but also the myths and tall tales that are interwoven in with the facts.
Good fun!
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
So I am not usually a history reader, but Lacey's narrative- mostly fact-based with some fun legends mixed in was just so inviting. The overall tone was perfect for a casual reader like me who has little knowledge of English history. I'll definitely be looking for the next two volumes.
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable and informative read. It doesn't go into enormous detail, as the chapters are generally quite short, but it's up to the reader to expand their reading on any areas of particular interest. But as a succinct overview, it works well.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lacey is an excellent storyteller. I loved his approach to history, focusing on character-driven stories.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love the structure of these books—short chapters telling concise stories with the catchiness and wit of fables, except factual and detailed.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bought for me as a present by my daughter a few years ago now, it took me a while to get started on it but then I loved it. I have re-read this several times and always enjoy the stories all over again when I come back to it.
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been slowly making my way through this history for about 6 months ago, and though I haven't finished it, I think it's safe to say that I've read enough to write a review.

"Great Tales from English History" is a brief history of England from circa 7150 BCE to 1953. Rather than write a traditional history, though, Lacey pulls out notable or interesting stories from England's colorful past. These stories are anywhere from a paragraph to 3-4 pages, allowing Lacy to give an overview of notable pe
John Briggs
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Christaaay - Christy Luis Reviews
What a fun read!

About: Lacey lays out short, informative tales from c. 7150 BC all the way up to AD 1381 in this first of three volumes. Every story is packed with detail and carefully presented to be interesting and inspiring for the casual reader (like me :) ). In fact, the book more of an episodic, fun version of early English history than a book of tales, although there were certainly mythological elements discussed in many chapters.

My Favorite Parts: (1) Lacey described each ruler’s perso
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, 2007, 2016
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
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
A collection of fairly short and interesting essays covering the very early history of the British Isles, from c.7150 BC to AD 1351. Lacey takes up the stories and myths revolving around Lady Godiva, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Thomas Beckett among many others and debunks, illuminates, or clarifies these stories. Before reading this book I knew almost nothing about this time in early British history.

What I learned: that England was repeatedly invaded by Danes, and had at least one Danish king,
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Daryn Hardy
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Somebody wasn't concentrating... 2 19 Oct 08, 2015 01:10PM  
English History list of Novels 1 5 Jun 04, 2015 02:26PM  
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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

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