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In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  148 ratings  ·  15 reviews
England is the birthplace of many immortal legends told around the world: King Arthur and Camelot, the Holy Grail, Robin Hood, the mysterious Isle of Avalon. But are these famous stories based on historical events and actual people? And what do they tell us about the character and origins of the Anglo-Saxon world, a culture that helped shape American identity?

In his absor
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 28th 2001 by University of California Press (first published 1999)
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  148 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Mar 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
That fount of wisdom, Wikipedia, tells me Wood has been dubbed "the thinking woman's crumpet" (note to self: new nickname for husband), and accordingly he's written a very engaging popular history of English identity. This is one of several In Search of books Wood has penned, so it's obviously working for him. The chapters are a glorious mix of the epic and infinitesimal, exploring national and regional mythology alongside the devastating impact of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries on ...more
Lara Eakins
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I did indeed take “In Search of England” to England and it has proven to be a fun read. A couple of times there was a convergence of sorts between the book and places I’ve visited or did visit in England and Wales. I like the personal recollections of Wood's in the book. So far I think my favorite part has been on Asser’s “Life of Alfred”. And of course, thanks to my history class, I understand (and actually anticipated) Wood's comparisons with Einhard’s “Life of Charlemagne”! Since I’ve become ...more
Anne Showering
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent-informative, engaging, fascinating information linking our present day with our past.I loved it!
Simon Mcleish
Nov 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in April 2001.

Like every nation, England has its collection of historical mythology, which is of varying truthfulness. This collection of essays is mostly about this subject, the famous and the less famous - Arthur and Robin Hood, on the one hand, to the survival of ancient crafts ("the last bowl-turner of England"), to turning points in English history. Though England is the unifying theme, the collection of essays is not sufficiently focused to make them re
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Lovely, lovely book! Michael Wood has a passion for humanity, for history, and for language. His research is breathtaking, and his breadth of knowledge is astonishing. I was completely captivated by his unpeeling the layers of history in village after village. I found this Penguin edition in a bookstall on market day in Wells, Somerset. After a day trip to Glastonbury, I settled in to continue reading a perfect companion to the day--Chapter 3: "Glastonbury, the Grail, and the Isle of Avalon." Se ...more
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Michael Wood writes in a lively and interesting way about parts of history not often made easily accessible - i.e. the period before and just after the Norman Conquest. By starting from places in modern England, he peals back time over a thousand years or more to reveal what still remains of a period of our history of which most of us are unaware. This book is a fascinating collection of stories, each taking a different place or incident as its starting point to reflect on what made the roots of ...more
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture
A wonderful exploration into the history of England, social, religious, culture and how, as anywhere else in the world the present is always shaped by the past.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotations of which I have never been able to identify the author

Erica Fairs
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Erudite, scholarly and extremely readable. If you want to know where England came from and the history of what has shaped the way we are now, you can do no worse than to add this book to your reading list. Engrossing.
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Particularly fascinated by the chapter on the destiny of Glastonbury Abbey's books after the Dissolution. But it's all a wonderful read, full of originality and insight.
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Splendid, a simply splendid read.
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A wonderful book full of English life, legends, and history, with the majority focused on early medieval England, my favorite.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anything Michael Wood has written is fabulous, extraordinary, etc. Love this man's work & which my library had some ebooks of his or audio.
Richard Thomas
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-history
A book of the TV series but none the worse for that. No great insights into the past but a useful compendium of the times.
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Librarian Note: There's more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael David Wood is an English historian & broadcaster. He's presented numerous tv documentary series. Library of Congress lists him as Michael Wood.

Wood was born in Moston, Manchester, & educated at Manchester Grammar School & Oriel College, Oxford. His specia