Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Recommended reading

I have again been compiling a list of History books for the Library Committee of the Oxford Union to consider for purchase, and I thought readers might be interested to see what I recommended.

Jonathan Harris "The Lost World of Byzantium"
Yale U P
ISBN 978-0300178573
RRP £l0.99
A well reviewed book which looks at specific case histories tio illustrate teh life of the Empire and its culture

Bryan Sykes "Blood of the Isles: Exploring the genetic roots of our tribal history"
ISBN 978-1407400228
RRP £9.99

Stephen Oppenheimer "The Origins of the British"
ISBN 978-1845294823
RRP £12.99
Two books on recent research into what makes us who we are and what makes us think and act as we have done over the centuries depending on our ancestry and background

Philip Parker "The Northmen's Fury: A History of the Viking World"
ISBN 978-0099551843
RRP £9.99
A good and readable account of a topic with wide appeal to readers

Michael Pye "The Edge of the World: How the North Sea made us who we are"
ISBN 978-0241963834
RRP £9.99
A new take on some of the themes in the previous three books. Years ago I suggested the concept of a common North Sea littoral culture in the middle ages to my academic supervisor who was inclined to dismiss it. Michael Pye makes a good case for there being one, and has written in the process a very entertaining book

Frank McLynn "Ghengis Khan:The Man who Conquered the World"
Bodley Head
ISBN 978-0224072900
RRP £25.00
World history, but also very important to that of Europe. Kievian Russia collapsed under the Mongol advance, and in the 1240s central Europe barely survived the onslaught *

E. A. Jones "England's Last Medieval Monastery: Syon Abbey 1415-2015"
ISBN 978-0852448724
RRP £9.99
I have already posted about this book, a history of the Bridgettine house which survived - against so many odds -until a few years ago

Jonathan Sumption "Divided Houses:The Hundred Years War III " and "Cursed Kings: The Hundred Years War IV"
Faber and Faber
ISBN 978-0571274543
RRP £40.00
We already have the first two volumes of Lord Sumption's magisterial history of the war and these are established as major studies

Helen Castor "Joan of Arc"
ISBN 978-0571284639
RRP £9.99
Always a popular topic and Dr Castor is a well known authority on the period

Roger Crowley "Conquerors: How Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and Forged the First Global Empire"
Faber and Faber
ISBN 978-0571290895
RRP £20.00
The rise to global prominence of a small kingdom in the far west of Europe, and reinforces our Iberian history section

Alexander Roob "Alchemy and Mysticism: The Hermetic Museum"
ISBN 978-38365449363
RRP £12.99
A topic of interest to historians of the early modern period in particular and to students of literature, art, theology and the history of science

Tim Blanning "Frederick the Great King of Prussia"
ISBN 978-0141039191
RRP £ 10.99
2016 pbk
Timothy Blanning always writes with great insight and skill about the eighteenth century, and this is one of its central figures

Jonathan Fenby "The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the Present Day"
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 978-1471129308
RRP £9.99
2016 pbk
Likely to become a standard work on the country

Edward J Coss "All for the King's Shilling: The British Soldier under Wellington 1808-1814"
University of Oklahoma Press
ISBN 978-0806151779
RRP £16.44
A study of the make up and functioning of the army which fought through the Peninsula campaigns to the eve of final victory at Waterloo, and pointing to the resilience and versatility of the troops

Barney White-Spunner "Of Living Valour: The story of the soldiers of Waterloo"
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 978-1471102912
RRP £25.00
A similar theme, this time looking at the army which won two centuries ago

David Laven and Lucy Riall (eds) "Napoleon's Legacy: Problems of Government in Restoration Europe"
ISBN 978-1859733496
RRP £18.99
A set of revisionist essays showing the vitality and subtlety of early to mid-nineteenth century European governments  

Ben Wilson "Empire of the Deep: The Rise and Fall of the British Navy"
ISBN 978-0753829202
RRP £12.99
A single volume history of the Royal Navy illustrating its place in making Britain the imperial power she was 

Alfred Mitchell "Recollections of one of the Light Brigade"
Crimean War Research Society/Lulu. CWRS special Publication 31
RRP £6.75
A reprint of what is said to be the best memoir by a soldier of service in the Crimea

Richard Bassett "For God and Kaiser: The Imperial Austrian Army 1619-1918"
Yale U P
ISBN 978-0300178581
RRP £25.00
The first study of this important institution and a significant contribution to the re-evaluation of the history of the Habsburg Empire

David Stone "The Kaiser's Army: The German Army in World War I"
ISBN 978-1844862351
RRP £30.00
A detailed history of the army and how it functioned, eminently suitable in the time of centenary commemorations

Georgina Howell "Queen of the Desert : The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell"
ISBN 978-1447286264
RRP £9.99
A recent Book of the Week on Radio 4 - the life of the British Arabist woman who more or less created the post-Ottoman Iraqi state

At the meeting yesterday the Library Committee accepted the list, but a few books were deferred until they will be available in paperback next spring or summer.

* And before anyone thinks it, when I have, on at least one occasion, been told "John, you are to the Right of Ghengis Khan" my reply was, and is, " Of course I am, as should be any civilised person. Ghengis Kkan is a typical Leftie, destroying everything in his path."

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