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The Story of England

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  255 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The village of Kibworth in Leicestershire lies at the very centre of England. It has a church, some pubs, the Grand Union Canal, a First World War Memorial - and many centuries of recorded history. In the thirteenth century the village was bought by William de Merton, who later founded Merton College, Oxford, with the result that documents covering 750 years of village his ...more
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published November 16th 2010 by Viking (first published September 1st 2010)
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  255 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Gerry Huntman
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I always take a little longer to read non-fiction - just the nature of the beast.

Michael Wood is a long-standing favourite of mine - in tandem with his television series. He truly is a rarity - a historian who knows how to popularize history without losing insight and scholarship.

When I heard about his The Story of England, I just had to get it straight away. The concept of depicting the culture and history of England from prehistoric times to modern day, through the archives and archaeology of
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a rather disorganised start, this settles into an absorbing, sympathetic, sometimes entertaining account of the history of England since the fall of the Roman Empire as experienced by a small settlement in the English Midlands. Recommended.
Kerry Hennigan
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
A new book, and especially a new television series from Michael Wood is a cause celebre for history lovers. His latest, The Story of England, is a journey through the pageant of English history in one village in the middle of England – Kibworth (Leicestershire). Kibworth is blessed with, for some periods of its history, with good historical records. The rest is revealed through archaeology and local traditions that can be traced back to Kibworth’s ancient past. Kibworth’s history is populated wi ...more
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book, which is the companion to the BBC series, tells the story of one village, Kibworth, through the whole of British history. Wood's premise is that British history can be told through the stories of kings and queens, but it is only by looking at it from the point of view of the ordinary people that we begin to see the gradual development of society over time. There is a lot of detail in this book, chapters on the Black Death and the Suffragettes were particularly good.
Kibworth just ha
Jan 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, history
Michael Wood undertook a weighty task and completed it. He used the tale of one location (Kibworth) near Leicester to tell the tale of England from first evidence up to an abbreviated 21st century. He gives a sense of life and people using all available resources (archaeological, written, DNA, etc.). He does a good job of using particulars to point to the whole story of England while allowing the particulars to point out the difference of this place from other locations. In all a very decent rea ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Instead of recounting English history based on the reigns of its kings and queens, this book focuses on the broader perspective through the history of one small, very well documented town near Leicester. A brilliant concept and fascinating perspective. Probably the best English history I've read.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, history
I think this is one I actually might have preferred to see on TV than to read. I'm gasping at myself here.
Jackie Caldwell
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Okay book. I should have read the back cover more carefully because I didn’t realize it was centered around a single English village. It took me about a hundred pages of confused annoyance before I finally figured out what the deal was.
I didn’t dislike the book overall, but I had (and continue to have) zero interest in learning all the little details about one English village. Especially in regards to the financial/humdrum affairs of its inhabitants on a super specific level. I don’t care about
Robert Hepple
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Published in 2010, The Story of England attempts to tell English history from the viewpoint of the village of Kibworth, near Leicester. The book was published in connection with a BBC tv series on the same subject, and Kibworth was selected because it has a little more evidence than some in the form of archaeological evidence from pre-1066 and some documentary evidence after that point, amongst other things. The result is fascinating as it describes the creation of the village and the feudal sys ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I slowly read this over the course of a year after watching the TV programme several times. I enjoy Michael Wood's work and am fascinated by the project he set out to accomplish here. The only reason I'm not giving this book five stars is that it is very repetitive and you can tell that it was somewhat rushed. Wood even admits as much in his acknowledgements. But I have fallen in love with Kibworth and its history, so much so that I made a point to visit Kibworth Harcourt (however briefly) durin ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
I rather liked reading this book. It's basically the history of England as told through the history of a village in the center of England and that village's name is Kibworth. Well written and told by historian Michael Wood. We're guided through the events that made England since the beginning of recorded history through to the Roman invasion, the Vikings and the Norman invasion up to the present. All done very well and I cannot recommend this book too highly.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really interesting to go through the history based on one village and the people of that village rather than focussing on the related national events and kings and queens as traditional history books do.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very good way to present history.
Steve Lawless
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Superb account of ordinary people's lives through history. The writing is excellent. Really shows the way ruling elites exploit the majority financially as well.
Gumble's Yard
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Story of England told from viewpoint of inhabitants of a mid Leicestershire village drawing very extensively on primary evidence (not last the village records held for hundreds of years by the landlord for one part of it - an Oxford college). The concept is excellent - history as it really happened to ordinary people of all classes, the execution only good (at times particularly early on too much speculation, followed by too much detail - and the TV series probably struck a better mix than the b ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Wood has written an enticing story of English history with the focus on the town of Kibworth. History for Kibworth, England began: "in the Middle Bronze Age, roughly between 1500 and 1000 BC, a time which saw the beginnings of organized societies in Britain, and with them for the first time long-distance trade." He traces Kibworth's known origins from the Bronze Age, to the Roman, Celt, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman invaders. Each of their influences to society and
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book before - this is my second go-round. And I love it.

The book jacket description: For a small country off the edge of Europe, England's influence on the history of the world has been disproportionately great. Its language and literature, and its ideas about politics and freedom, have spread across the whole of the globe. But what is England and who are the English? And how did the English people develop their unique way of seeing the world?

In this tale of epic sweep and mesmer
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I suppose some people would like this approach to history, albeit, wearing tunnel vision goggles focused on one particular spot in geography, as Life Goes On All Around It, but I didn't, particularly. Actually, it bypasses the one part of British history which most interests me at all, the reign of the usurper Henry IV (a long-distant ancestor fought with and for the Welsh and Scots against him, and paid for it with his head after the Battle of Shrewsbury. Proud to be an anti-monarchist American ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I've read and enjoyed many of Wood's books so I am looking forward to this one. Just in a chapter deep so far.


Finished on Friday. It's slow going when I mostly read on break at work.


Enjoyable read. Needs a bit more of a timeline along with the history. Would probably be better if the reader had a firm grasp on what was happening in the background around England as a whole while Wood was relating what was happening in this one village. But then I guess this was
Jennifer Petkus
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such an amazing book. Such an amazingly long, detailed book. Such an amazing glimpse into people’s lives in one small cluster of English villages from the Norman Conquest to the present day. It makes a wonderful companion to the TV series of the same name, which understandably sprints through history. The continuity of life, names, customs, professions and statuses is the principal joy of the book.

You get to see how the same family names appear again and again throughout the centuries and how fo
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The focus on one small area to tell the story of England was fascinating. It was made possible by some exceptional archives, and some archaeology, but Michael Wood drew the story together. I really enjoy that he is an articulate and enthusiastic story teller, drawing the reader along with him. I also like that he makes it clear when speculation about what may have happened is occurring, so that the boundary between what is known and what may be imagined to have happened remains a little clearer.
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was definitely an interesting book. I love British history and was excited to see this on my library's shelf display. and I did learn quite a bit. however, the book was written with the assumption that I was raised on British history lessons, instead of American. unfortunately I was lacking some of the basics, so the references were often unclear. the village perspective was intriguing, though, and will be insightful as I continue to fill in the gaps as I know I will. a good solid read. jus ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting history of one English village as representative of England as a nation. I would have preferred more context in this accounting; despite my knowledge of English history and geography, locating the narrative in the broader national story would have been helpful. I would also have enjoyed more focus on the last 300 years of the village to place it more clearly in the current context of England
Les Dangerfield
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Michael Wood tells the history of England through the story of a single village, Kibworth, in Leicestershire. An interesting idea but , for me, it didn't work very well and I spent unusually long reading the book, sometimes leaving it for a week or two before coming back to it. Glad I finished it at last, but three stars is the most I would give to it.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this for research as part of it covers the time I am interested in. As a sufferer of M.E. and someone who is not really academic, I sometimes struggle to take in the detail given in research books, but this is an interesting read which I can manage to absorb well enough for it to be helpful.
I am finding it quite enjoyable.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A slightly biased review as this about a village down the road to mine. I've also met the author who signed my copy! That being declared, the view of British history through the eyes of a community is inspired. An enjoyable read and a brilliant accompaniment to the tv series.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2012
A history of England through the lens of a Leicestershire village.

Not too bad, but could get very detailed. That said the TV series was excellent and this book fllls in the gaps left by that as it could not cover everything in the eight one hour shows.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn't finish all of this, but I read enough to rate it. Liked it a lot! The tiny details of this village are fascinating and this makes a great companion to the TV series.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-english
Brilliant. The best synthesis of British history I have read, bringing it all together and making sense of the past in a logical and coherent way. Loved it.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Excellent - particularly on the earlier history (like Romans & Anglo-Saxons) which fascinate me!
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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
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