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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
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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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  626 ratings  ·  75 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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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  626 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Start your review of Great Tales from English History, Vol 2: Joan of Arc, the Princes in the Tower, Bloody Mary, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Isaac Newton & More
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first volume in Mr. Lacey’s historical tour of England, this second volume (spanning 1387 - 1687) was equally fabulous. The author has an easy, non-threatening approach to history and his introduction at the start of this book is excellent. From milestones that steered England’s future to the invention of the equal sign, these three hundred years were packed with enlightening events, ideas, and of course, people. There’s also a wonderful appendix at the end of the b ...more
Kara 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
Bob Schmitz
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is a series of vignettes of English history that are interesting and easily digested.

I learned that the black death of 1348 and subsequent pandemics the bubonic plagues wiped out half of the English population. One result was that land became cheaper, wages rose and there was a new scramble for economic gain.

Richard II came into power and it his 22 years of reign parliament met only six times. He made peace with France ending the hundred years war and lived off his own estates so there
Feb 12, 2008 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
Nov 10, 2008 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.
Dec 23, 2011 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.
Apr 16, 2012 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.
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Taking the reader on a journey starting from Chaucer;
passing through the Wars of the Roses, Tudors, Civil War, the Great Fire of London; and ending up with Isaac Newton and an apple is no mean feat. These centuries of English history are some of the most hotly debated and intensely studied and Lacey’s chronological consideration of each pivotal point is engaging, interestingly and accessible.

Although perhaps the advantage of accessibility also provides my main issue with this book. While I truly
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
In Which Robert Lacey basically tells a bunch of anecdotes from English history. And it is specifically English history, by the by. He says in his introduction that he would quite like to write Great Tales from Scottish, Welsh, and Irish History serieses as well.

Anyway. Lacey makes sure the anecdotes are as historically accurate and well-sourced as he can manage, but apart from that, this is basically just a bunch of good stories arranged in loosely chronological order. I enjoyed it, but I alre
Joe Johnson
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-history
This is the second volume (of three I think) of the author's series of "Great Tales from English History" and I can safely say that if you liked the first volume, you'll like this one. The author's emphasis is on history as a series of connected narratives, and he really focuses on story telling. And I think he does a good job.

This volume covers the time from the reign of Richard II to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and so encompasses things like the War of the Roses, Henry VIII, The English R
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Didn't read Vol 1 before diving into this, but this was an immensely enjoyable read on English history, if a little too surface. Some parts can be a little hard to follow, but I suppose that is because the stories themselves are wrinkly to tell, not of Lacey's lack of skills. There are additional chapters from inventors and other notable figures in history that steers you for a while from the Kings and Queens and these were also a pleasure to read, too.
Doug Adamson
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written and engaging. Not the book if you are looking for lengthy discussions but great for an introduction that makes you desire more. The list for further reading pointed me to several prospective reads.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not so much full fledged stories, more short vignettes, but hung together in such a way as to produce a very readable political history of England over 200 years or so. Eminently enjoyable. Looking forward to reading the other volumes.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
As are the others in this series, I’m assuming, the short pieces in this collections give an extremely brief (1-3 pages) description of the people/events covered. For any kind of detail you will have to to other sources. Perhaps the information given will pique your curiosity.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really enjoyed this book! I found the chapters on King Henry VIII especially interesting. There were a few times when I felt a bit lost with all of the (new-to-me) terms and names but overall I would recommend this book as an introduction to English history!
Karen Brooks
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So enjoy Robert Lacey's short, sharp takes on moments and people in English history. The chapters are erudite vignettes that posit explanations as much as they relay facts and always expose the dubious. A great companion to longer treatises on different elements of British history.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
good as usual!! I learned some more ubscure historical figures than I thought existed.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gadi Nissim
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just like the first part of the series, this one is also easy to read, historically accurate, and manage to combine the big picture with daily miniatures. I highly recommend it.
Albert Jessop
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hiss-tow-ree
Fantastic series. Makes history fun with the condensed style.
Megan Gery
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love the way Robert Lacey writes about history: he approaches it with a little bit of sarcastic humor and a lot of storytelling ability. The Great Tales series is full of concise chapters that could stand alone, but when read together, provide a comprehensive overview of some of England's most fascinating history. I have no idea why I started with the second volume, but I will definitely be seeking out the others.
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Countess of Frogmere
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
Dec 27, 2007 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
May 17, 2011 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
Jan 13, 2012 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
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a former but failed History teacher...this would serve well as an introduction to the wonderful history of the English people, singling-out exciting episodes & throwing clear light on some shadowy figures in most younger readers'..(born after the demise of proper history-teaching in schools!) panoply of half-perceived 'important historical characters'. Who was 'John Johnson', & why do we remember him every November? Do you remember what the odiously-depraved Titus Oates got-up-to? A ...more
May 15, 2008 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
Cynthia Egbert
Apr 14, 2014 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
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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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