Monday, October 7, 2013

Great Tales From English History, vol. 3

Great Tales from English History, volume 3. Robert Lacey. 2008. Little, Brown. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

This is the third volume in Robert Lacey's Great Tales from English History. I have reviewed both previous volumes: one, two. It covers the years 1690-1953. Diverse subjects are covered as well: religion, politics, science, philosophy, war, inventors and inventions, explorers and travelers. One thing I definitely noticed was the focus is less on royalty and the aristocrats.
The job of the historian is to deal objectively with the available facts. But history is in the eye of the beholder and also of the historian who, as a human being, has feelings and prejudices of his own... So let me try to be candid about some of my own prejudices. I believe passionately in the power of good storytelling, not only because it is fun, but because it breathes life into the past. It is also through accurate narrative--establishing what happened first and what happened next--that we start to perceive the cause of things, and what influences human beings to act in the noble and cruel ways that they do. I believe that nobility actually secures more effective outcomes than cruelty, though the story of the slave trade in the pages that follow might seem to challenge that. I also believe that ideas matter, that change is possible, that knowledge dispels fear, and that good history both explains and facilitates all those things. (3)
Overall, this series has been wonderful. I've loved these short tales. I've loved the focus on individuals, loved the chronological arrangement, loved seeing the big picture come together. I enjoyed the first two volumes in this series a little bit more than this third and final volume. But I am so glad I discovered the series!!!

Highlights from this volume include:
  • John Locke and Toleration
  • Union Jack
  • Britain's First Prime Minister
  • Born Again
  • Dick Turpin -- Stand and Deliver
  • God Save the King!
  • Dr. Johnson's Dictionary
  • The Madness of George III
  • Wellington and Waterloo
  • Stone Treasures Mary Anning and the Terror Lizards
  • I Will Be Good -- Victoria Becomes Queen
  • Prince Albert's Crystal Palace
  • Women and Children First -- The Birkenhead Drill
  • The Lady of the Lamp and the Lady with the Teacup
  • The Great Stink and the Tragedy of the Princess Alice
  • The King's Horse and Emily Davison
  • The Greatest History Book Ever
  • Dunkirk -- Britain's Army Saved by the Little Boats
  • Battle of Britain -- the Few and the Many
  • Code-making, Code-breaking - 'The Life That I Have'
  • Decoding the Secret of Life
Horrible Histories connections:

Dick Turpin
George the I Doesn't Understand English (Creation of First Prime Minister)
Born 2 Rule (The 4 Georges) (song)
Bonnie Prince Charlie
Queen Victoria and Albert(song)
Victorian Inventions (song)
Transportation Song
Florence Nightingale 
Mary Seacole Song
Suffragettes Song
RAF Song
Stinky Parliament
Napoleon Report

© 2013 Becky Laney

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