In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past by Michael Wood, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past

In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past

by Michael Wood
     
 

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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

Overview

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 absorbing new book, Michael Wood examines the roots of English history. Peeling back the layers of literary and oral material that have accumulated over the ages, he offers a fascinating series of rich stories—part history, part myth—that, directly or indirectly, touch on questions of English history and identity. He looks back at the legends surrounding Alfred the Great, King Athelstan, the lost library of Glastonbury, and more.

Wood's emphasis is the Early Middle Ages, and the first two sections of the book offer deep excursions into particular moments in the history of that era.
In addition to recounting some well-known legends, Wood considers the manuscripts and other primary sources of historical information on which they are based, assessing the validity of existing documentation, fleshing out historical contexts, and considering the treatment throughout history of these stories by famous writers, poets, and moviemakers.


In the third part of
In Search of England,
Wood writes about places that illuminate interesting aspects of early England: Tinsley Wood, near Sheffield, which has been claimed as the site of Athelstan's great victory against the Celts in 937; a farmhouse in Devon which has been occupied since Domesday and possibly long before; and the village of Peatling Magna in Leicestershire, scene of an extraordinary confrontation with King Henry III in 1265. These are the places and events that offer a complementary version of the history that is discussed earlier in the book.


In Search of England
is published at a significant moment. With the European union, and with assertions of independence within the United Kingdom, questions about English national identity have become increasingly topical both there and abroad. Wood offers a potent and revealing account of the origins of a culture that has had a significant impact worldwide. His narrative is a rich unfolding of history and legend reaching to the present day, and a delightfully readable meditation on the roots of the Anglo-Saxon world.

Editorial Reviews

Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
A thoughtful meditation on the roots of the Anglo-Saxon world.
Times Literary Supplement
Better than any historian for decades, Wood brings home not just the ways in which buildings, landscapes and written texts may be read, but the sensual beauty of encounters with them . . . As a cameo of modern Englishness, it is brilliant; and if Michael Wood claims the cover picture, he lets this man have the last word.
New York Times Book Review
A collection of illuminating essays...with scholarly zeal, journalistic skepticism and narrative flair. Most interesting are the essays in which Wood journeys off the trampled paths, as he does in his essay on Bede, the priest and scholar who wrote the first and one of the greatest English histories in 731. A history written, as the best are, 'with the heart and the spirit as well as the intellect,' as is Wood's adroit journey through the thickets of early medieval history.
Chicago Tribune
A thoughtful meditation on the roots of the Anglo-Saxon world.
New York Review of Books
A collection of illuminating essays...with scholarly zeal, journalisticskepticism and narrative flair. Most interesting are the essays in which Wood journeys off the trampled paths, as he does in his essay on Bede, the priest and scholar who wrote the first and one of the greatest English histories in 731. A history written, as the best are, 'with the heart and the spirit as well as the intellect,' as is Wood's adroit journey through the thickets of early medieval history."(New York Times Book Review, Books in Brief)
Sherie Posesorski
Most interesting are the essays in which Wood journeys off the trampled paths, as he does in his essay on Bede, the priest and scholar who wrote the first and one of the greatest English histories in 731. A history written, as the best are, ''with the heart and the spirit as well as the intellect,'' as is Wood's adroit journey through the thickets of early medieval history.
The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520232181
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
08/28/2001
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Wood is a writer and historian living in England. He has worked as a journalist, broadcaster, and filmmaker, with over sixty films to his name. His book
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great
(California, 1997), based on his PBS television series, was a bestseller in England and in the United States. He is also the author of
In Search of the Trojan War
(updated edition, California, 1998), which also accompanied a PBS series, and other books.

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