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Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  142 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In 1086 the Domesday Book, perhaps the most remarkable historical document in existence, was compiled. This tremendous survey of England and its people was made at the behest of the Norman, William the Conqueror. Michael Wood's "Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England" is a study of the ancient manuscript and an attempt to analyse the world that the Domesday Book portr ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published 1999 by BBC Books (first published November 13th 1986)
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Pete daPixie
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-a-s
Michael Wood turned me on to Olde English history almost 20 years ago with his excellent t.v. series 'In search of the Dark Ages'. Since then I've read his book 'In search of the Dark Ages' and 'In the footsteps of Alexander the Great'. I would recommend anything that he writes. 'A search for the roots of England' is another great piece of investigative writing. Here Wood shows that the feudal takeover of England in 1066 was just a takeover of a basic governmental system that went back before th ...more
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Michael Wood's Domesday Quest (as mine is titled) is a very readable but thorough account, not only of the Domesday Book, but of its context -- the processes already existing that allowed William the Conqueror to have such a task completed with the accuracy he apparently managed. Michael Wood traces the development of a national identity, and how it was impacted by those who invaded and settled in Britain.

There's lots of names, facts and figures, of course, most of which I had no head for, but M
Can't See the Wood for the Trees Once I made up my mind to finish this book, I found it easier to read. That doesn't really make any sense, I know but I think I was just getting so hung up on the detail that I wasn't enjoying it. It's well written but kind of dry compared to today's standards of pop history. However, I did eventually get lost in the fascinating worlds of Dark Age and Early Medieval history even if I found Michael Wood's conclusions about pre-Domesday society hard to follow. Ther ...more
Nathan Albright
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
There is both a lot to praise and criticize about a book like this. On the one hand, this is a book that shows a great love and attention to historical information, tracing people for hundreds of years through various tax records, and showing how a work like the initially daunting Domesday Book has a genuinely human though that is not always recognized. This book was written in honor of the 900th anniversary of the writing and compilation of the Domesday Book in 1086, in the aftermath of the con ...more
U. Cronin
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The way this book is written is the ideal of how history should be presented. Michael Wood is an excellent writer and storyteller and his enthusiasm and imagination make medieval England leap off the pages. The book brings to life not only England 20 years after the Norman invasion and the remarkable book compiled by William the Conqueror to aid in the levying of taxes, but the Celtic and Roman societies and structures that pre-dated the Anglo-Saxon colonisation of the country in the late fifth ...more
Richard Olney
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As far as i try to broaden my interests, i never stray far from the history of England, and the bit we used to call The Dark Ages in particular. This is my second attempt at this book, one of many Mr Wood has written on or around this period of history. While i was taught that the Dark Ages ended with the Norman conquest, most of what i've read about the Conquerer and the Conquest suggests it probably brought in an even darker age.

The search for the roots uses Domesday Book and the sources from
Simon Mcleish
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in October 2001.

Produced as part of the nine hundredth anniversary of the production of the Domesday Book, this is the least accessible and least individual book which Wood has written. This is mainly because of the subject matter; to most amateur historians, Domesday is mainly of interest for local history of by the fact of its existence (being the earliest nationwide survey of land ownership and obligations of any European nation). Much of its true signific
A history book that takes a different approach to English history than most others. Usually books follow the doings of various kings and queens, charting events and life through their actions, but Wood approaches our heritage from the landscape itself - by exploring the role of farmers and farming throughout the ages. He begins in Celtic times, tracing the beginning of field systems, before looking at the changes brought about by the Roman invasion, then the Anglo-Saxon, and finally the Norman C ...more
This was written in the days before the rise of 'creative non-fiction' and as a result, it is unfortunately quite dry. Although the subject is fascinating - the author is exploring how the social and economic structure of Britain came to be formed in the centuries leading up to the creation of the Domesday Book, it just isn't written in a particularly engaging way. And there is a bit of an overuse of hyperbolic words although that, perhaps, was done in an attempt to liven up the subject matter a ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched, but unfortunately dry as to make long sections hard to get through. The lists of towns and possessions became meaningless after awhile, especially since I'm not from that country (which would help). I liked the parts focusing on the history around that time, but since the book is about what in "Domesday" revealed what life was like then, most of the focus was on property lines, money, and who owned what. Still, a thorough glimpse into life in 1080s, before, and the centuries aft ...more
May 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great. Immediately going to read it again. Too much to digest at one go.
...and now I have skimmed through it again it's going with the reference books on the shelf. It gives a persuasive view of a great sweep of English history, connecting the detail of written records, place names and archaeology with his ideas.
Tom Smith
Didn't make it very far. Found the prose rather stilted and the approach a little to dry for me. Perhaps it is just the wrong time in life to tackle this one. May try again when I can be more focused on it.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genealogy, history
History of England, all tied into the Domesday Book. Great examples, many good illustrations.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extraordinary writer. Love his work.
Mar 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Michael Wood, and I admire what he's doing here, but this was too dry. Lots of interesting material, to be sure, but I needed something more to really get into it.
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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
More about Michael Wood...

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