Category: Review (page 2 of 62)

How to Catch a Mole by Marc Hamer

4 out of 5 stars

Choosing a career as a mole-catcher is unusual, to say the least. But then Marc Hamer has never followed any convention, rather he has forged his own path in his life. He has been homeless after his father decided he was surplus to requirements at the age of 16, worked on the trains and slept in hedges and on the beach, weeded gardens and finally ended up in this, a mole-catcher, his last career. Knowing where moles are is fairly easy, look for the conical piles of soil that appear scattered over finely tended lawns and driving the owners of the properties half-mad.

Finding these elusive creatures is much harder and takes years of experience and knowledge to locate the tunnels and set the traps. It was this knowledge that meant that mole-catchers could expect a secure and well-paid job. This solitary working life suited Hamer, spending time outside in the glorious Welsh hills sensing the seasons change imperceptibly on a daily basis and loving his life. After a lifetime of experience chasing and destroying these rarely seen animals, he made the decision to never do it again and hung up his traps.

Reading about the destruction of these poor creatures is not easy, however, Hamer somehow writes about it with a tenderness that doesn’t lessen the cruelty, but shows his small part in the cycle of life and death in nature. It is a part that he turned his back on, deciding after one incident to not continue the trapping of moles. I really like Hamer’s sparse writing too, he is not pretentious or flowery, rather he tells it how it is, celebrating the tiny details that others often miss, enjoying the wind and rain as well as retreating home for shelter, companionship and a tumbler of whisky for warmth. It feels like he is an integral part of the landscape and like all living things on this planet, just a transient blip in the geological deep time. I preferred the prose to the poetry, and all the way through it is beautifully illustrated by Joe McLaren.

Underland by Robert Macfarlane

5 out of 5 stars

Mankind has long looked to the heavens seeking fortune, inspiration and direction. Numerous cultures have all considered the underworld to be a place where a river carried the dead away from the surface, where death abounded, hell, hades and other places were thought to exist. It was somewhere to be avoided. Yet, people have worked underground for thousands of years, tracing and extracting the minerals and ores in the ground, However, it is not something that most people do on a regular basis in the UK now our mining industry is gone. We do head beneath the surface though as millions of people think nothing about going on the tube under London and other capital cities to get to work. However, very few get to go to where Macfarlane is heading.

His journeys into the nether regions of our planet will take him to the catacombs of Paris where his guide knows the numerous passages so well that she doesn’t need a map. Squeezing through tiny gaps, pulling his bag behind him, he will not see the sun for a week. He will venture deep underground in Finland visiting a nuclear waste site. Here they are burying copper and steel tube holding waste uranium, that will have to be buried for thousands of years and sealed behind a million tonnes of rock. The engineer’s joke that they might find the last lot that was buried in the rock they were blasting.

People have been entering caves since time immemorial, some caves are easy to enter, though not straightforward to reach and they reveal art that is millennia old. The caves he visits to see this amazing art are not always the easiest to find, and it is not always the easiest thing to see on the walls as he discovers. Each cave he enters challenges his perception of the underground landscape, having to descend vertically in almost pitch back, wading through underground rivers that might flood with no warning. He sees first hand how the same forces that shape our coasts and mountains, also transform the Underland. Most memorable is an underground chamber where there are dunes of black sands.

In Greenland, he climbs mountains and abseils down a moraine in a glacier and it is as cold and frightening as I’d expect. Secrets from under London with Bradley Garret from the London Consolidation Crew are revealed as they head to places that they really shouldn’t be going. Underneath forests are more than just roots, as Macfarlane understands how trees talk to each other through the Wood Wide Web. One of the deepest points he reaches is to see the place where they look at the stars…

The way into the Underland is through the riven trunk of an old ash tree…

It is through these and the other locations he takes us, that we get to hear the stories of these places that never see the sun. As will all of Macfarlane’s books, there is a wider message that he is talking about in what has been called the Anthropocene and that is about the damage that we are doing to this, our only planet. The reason he can abseil down the moraine on the glacier is because of global warming and the implications for humanity should the repositories hold the nuclear waste leak or rupture do not even bear thinking about. If you have read any of his previous books then this is a must read. It is not as uplifting as those books as it is much darker given the places he visits and the subject matter but that doesn’t make it any less thrilling. It is not one to read if you suffer from claustrophobia. I like the way that he can link seemingly unrelated subjects from classical history to modern day physics with that common thread of being under the ground. Macfarlane has a way with words that carry you as he heads deep Underland to see our past and glimpse our future. I have been anticipating this for over a year now and it was well worth the wait. If there was one tiny flaw, I would have liked to have seen some photos included of the places he visits.

Thinking On My Feet by Kate Humble

3.5 out of 5 stars

Modern life seems to be more and more associated around screens, we spend hours looking at them avoiding exercise and making ourselves unhealthy. But the simple act of going for a walk away from your screen can have lots of benefits, especially if your walk takes in the natural world. Kate Humble is a big fan of walking, so much so that she ranks the importance of having that morning walk alongside her first cup of tea.

Her busy life of filming means that she is not always able to walk from her home in the Welsh Hills with her beloved dogs, but when she is away she takes every opportunity to get outside and see the are she is staying in.

Written in a diary form and set over the course of a year, she tells us of life’s ups and downs, the places that she travels to all over the world and most importantly the walks that she undertakes both long and short. These are often taken alone with her dog, Teg, or with groups of friends and their children and hounds. When she is away from home she doesn’t miss the opportunity to take a walk, as she has concluded that this is the best way to understand a new city or region as you pace its streets.

A cancelled assignment means that she has an opportunity to walk a long distance footpath close to home and spends nine days walking the Wye Valley Walk. She also meets people who have used walking as a form of coping with the trials and tribulations of life, from cancer survivors to a soldier recovering from PTSD and a guy who conducts therapy sessions whilst walking around Central Park.

Being a diary it deals with the mundane, she goes through the routines of home life, putting the washing in, squeezing in more things in than time allows, to the significant events that happen over the course of the book. But primarily this is a book about walking and Humble is a big advocate for that act of putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the natural world.

The Sea That Beckoned by Angela Gabrielle Fabunan

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Home means many different things to each and every one of us. For some it is the place where you were born, have lived, and are likely to end your life in. For others who have for numerous reason had to move from one area to another, there are layers of complexity to that definition.

 Angela Gabrielle Fabunan was originally from the Philippines, she moved to New York to study and it was that clash of cultures and the conflict between knowing what was once home and what is now home is what drives the poems in her debut collection, The Sea That Beckoned.

Her poems talk about that awkwardness that comes from being new, how every action is done as unobtrusively as possible. Learning a new language and unlearning an old one. Some of the poems talk about learning to deal with rejection and not fitting in before, others talk of previous life and family gatherings.

 

We model minorities speak

even if we become ghosts,

even when we’re silenced,

even when no one is listening.

 

I liked the way that the poems used different formats and layouts with the text to alter the rhythm and cadence as you read your way through the book. The language is rich and full of meaning, however, there were some of the poems I was less keen on, but I think it is a book that I will come back to another time.

Three Favourite poems:

The Other Shore

Threshold

Snow

Tiny Churches by Dixe Wills

4 out of 5 stars

Whilst not particularly religious, Dixe Wills still takes time to pop into most of the churches that he passes as he travels around the countryside on his bike. These places are not huge edifices that can seat hundreds, rather they are modest buildings that have served the needs of their local communities for years, and in quite a lot of cases hundreds and hundreds of years.

For this book, Wills has had to reduce his shortlist down to 60 buildings and in line with his other books, he has chosen the smallest of them. Even the largest of those his has picked can seat 30 or so at a squeeze, but most only have room for a dozen or so. The range of building he has selected too is impressive, there are places that disappeared and the buildings were discovered much later with original architecture intact. He visits an amazing chapel made from Nissan Huts by Italian Prisoners of War WW2 up in Orkney. There are buildings that highlight the Romanesque, the Gothic and even takes us to the oldest wooden church in the country. It never ceases to amaze me just how old some of these places are. Frequently Norman and a significant number of churches with Anglo Saxon origins and even one with Roman foundations.

It is not a spiritual journey rather a pilgrimage to the tiny, quirky and always impressive spiritual focal points of villages and towns. I like Will writing style as he always manages to find lots of interesting things to say about any of the subjects that he is writing about, and this is no different, each church has a potted history of its significant features and his own personal take of his visit. Most importantly you can go and visit these yourself, clear details are given on how to get there and each mini-biography is accompanied by lovely photos of the church in question and some of the internal fittings and settings. Not just a book for the architecture buff, but one for those that have a passing interest in the places they are rooted in. A good companion volume to The King of Dust by Alex Woodcock.

The Sea by Isobel Carlson

3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

We are fortunate in the UK to have a close association with the coast and the sea. A day spent by the seaside can do wonders for our wellbeing. It doesn’t matter whether you have gone for a walk along the shore, sat on a beach eating fish and chips or been brave enough to take a dip in our cold seas, it has a way of restoring something deep inside us.

This charming little book from Isobel Carlson is a celebration of the coasts, coves bays and open oceans that cover our world. In here she has snippets about the creatures that inhabit the sea, spectacular coastlines that we should try and see and things to do when you do make it to the sea. The lovely photos make this a nicely presented gift book all about the sea and coast. However, I did feel that it was missing a bibliography for those that are finding more out about a subject and it would have been good to see more than three pages on environmental and plastic concerns. I thought it could have had more on the perilous state our oceans are in.

Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer

Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer and published by Ebury.

 

About the Book

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. An outrageous feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the army of Genghis Khan, the Derby sees competitors ride 25 horses across 1000km, and it’s rare that more than half of the riders make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, wildly underprepared and in search of the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Finding on the wild Mongolian steppe strength and self-knowledge she didn’t know she possessed, even whilst caught in biblical storms and lost in the mountains, Lara tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. She didn’t just complete the race: in one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she won, becoming the youngest-ever competitor to conquer the course.

A tale of endurance, adventure and man’s struggle to tame the wild, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one woman’s quest to find herself in one of the most remote and challenging landscapes on earth.

 

About the Author

Lara Prior-Palmer was born in London in 1994. Her aunt is Lucinda Green, a legendary rider and one of the UK’s best-ever equestrians. Lara studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University. In 2013, she competed in the 1000 kilometre Mongol Derby in Mongolia, sometimes described as the world’s toughest and longest horse race. Rough Magic is her first book.

 

My Review

The Mongol Derby is the world hardest horse race. The aim is to ride 600s mile across the Mongolian plains, that was once the home of the army of Genghis Khan.  The ride takes 10 days and they are restricted in the time they can ride each day and how hard they can push their horses too. The riders swap horses at regular intervals, transferring saddles onto a new horse that they have seen before at each urtuu they stop at.  

Her race began in 2009, and there are around 30 to 40 entries each year to travel across this beautiful landscape and they will travel across lush valleys, woodlands, rivers, mountains and the steppe that this part of the world is famous for. Riding for that distance takes its toll on the competitors and the race will be lucky to see half of the starters actually complete it. On a whim Lara Prior-Palmer decided to enter the race and sent off her application, secretly hoping that she wouldn’t get in. They accepted and even knocked down the entry fee when they realised that her aunt was the Lucinda Green of Badminton Trails fame.

Prior-Palmer was totally unprepared and being a late entry meant that she had missed all the preparation that the organisers recommend for the race. On top of that, she would be one of the youngest competitors at the age of 19. The disclaimer on the website is fairly blunt:

We want to point out how dangerous the Mongol Derby is. By taking part in this race you are greatly increasing your risk of severe physical injury or even death.

She’d missed that originally and it was too late to cancel or take any of her vaccinations. However, it was time to catch a plane and head around the world to the city of Ulaanbaatar to meet the other competitors and have the pre-race briefing. It was slowly dawning on her just what she’d taken on. Next, they were heading out onto the steppe to acclimatize and final prep for the race. Then before she knew it, it was time to start, there was a blessing from the Lama and they were off.

So she begins 10 days of racing against the other competitors, the landscape and herself. Even though it is the first person past the finishing line who will win, there are time penalties for pushing your horse too hard and disqualification is certain cases. They have to navigate using the maps and GPS to each of the urtuu’s where they swap to their next pony after the vets have examined their previous one. The pony you choose next can make or break that leg. The landscape is endlessly challenging with marmot holes to trip horse and rider. At the end of the first day she is second to last.

Riding for that amount of time would be tough enough on a seasoned rider who knew the horse, but for each leg , they choose an animal that they have never seen before, let alone ridden. By the start of the third day, her legs felt like lead. Only seven more days to go… The leader of the Derby was a girl from Texas, called Devan,  and she didn’t seem to want to be relinquishing the lead any time soon. Some drop out of the race and slowly she start to catch the leader, even setting a record for the highest number of legs completed in one day. She never thought she’d finish but she might be in with a chance at this.

I like horses but have only been brave enough to go on one once. At first glance, this wouldn’t normally my sort of thing, but this is a good example of taking a chance on a book because sometime you can be surprised. This account of the frantic dash across the Mongolian steppe is nicely balanced between a personal account of the race and a memoir of her life with a light dusting of travel writing. She is quite naive, forgetting all manner of things, does almost zero preparation and makes other errors that would cost someone else the race. What she does have though is grit and determination as well as a desire, not necessarily to win, but to upset the applecart and defy all expectations. Even though I knew what the result was from the blurb, I still turned the final pages in a frantic rush as both competitors head into the final stages of the race. It is what good non-fiction should be, a strong narrative about a subject that you may not know about with a personal angle. Well worth reading.

 

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour

 

Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here

My thanks to Ebury and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the copy of the book to read.

The Unlikeliest Backpacker by Kathryn Barnes

3.5 out of 5 stars

Some people are happy with routine in their lives and have found a balance between working and relaxing that suits them. Kathryn Barnes and her husband, Conrad weren’t those people though. Something didn’t feel right they had travelled in the past for fairly big chunks of time, and the call to see more of the world was beckoning again. A germ of an idea grew larger and before they knew it they had quit their jobs and booked a flight to the West Coast of America to walk 1000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail or PCT as it is normally known

There was one tiny issue though, they hadn’t got any experience of hiking. Or camping. Inexperienced would be an understatement, they are city birds and have barely walked anywhere unless they could help it. This wouldn’t be the whole route though, they were just going to walk the section from northern California, through Oregon and Washington and just over the Canadian border. Not only would they have to carry everything on their backs, but the route they were walking was known for mountain lions and bears.

Even though they were departing in June they knew as soon as they got to the higher altitudes there would be snow, it was going to be a steep learning curve in more ways that one. Starting off with small daily mileages as their stamina and experience grew they were able to build the distance they could travel over the course of the trek. The views were spectacular, and so were the midges… They encountered all sorts of characters on their walk, from the warm and generous people that helped them out when they needed it with spare kit and lifts to the very occasional sinister individual. One person though who pops up most days is Dan as they seem to roughly keep pace with him.

I did like this book, as it had a certain charm to it. Barnes is quite honest in her writing and is prepared to tell it how it is, from the highs of standing at the top of the passes, drinking in the views and letting the peace of the woods soak into their psyche to the very low points when they squabbled over the most trivial of things. Even though they didn’t walk the entire trail, it has made her reconsider all her priorities.  Some of what they learnt as a couple she shares at the end of the book, especially the essential tip to appreciate it as you pass through. There are practical details and links for those wanting to undertake a similar experience. It has made them think about their relationship with the wider world, and seriously think about leaving London. I did feel that the book was missing photos of their walk, they obviously took lots as it is mentioned fairly often in the text. There are some on her website though: https://alifetowander.com/category/pacific-crest-trail/

The White Darkness by David Grann

4.5 out of 5 Stars

The line between focus and obsession is very thin. Henry Worsley was one of those who crossed backwards and forwards over the line. He was a devoted husband and father and when serving in the special forces, was decorated for bravery. One Worsley‘sobsessions though was Ernest Shackleton. This explorer tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole and even attempted to cross the frozen continent on foot. Sadly he never succeeded in these adventures, but his leadership skills meant that he kept his men from dying.

It was those leadership skills that Worsley used when commanding his own men. There was another link too, Frank Worsley, one of Shackleton’s men, was a relation. He began to collect some of the items from the expeditions across the ice. He began to feel the call of the ice and started to plan his own expedition there. In 2008 he arrived there with two other descendants from Shackleton’s team. Nothing is easy in Antarctica and they fought against the landscape and the place to reach their goal. However, it did not get it out of his system. Antarctica became a place that he felt at home and seven years later, he was back there; this time to walk alone on a 1000 mile journey across the whole continent. He was going to have to pull all his supplies on a sled as he was not dependent on supply drops. It was a high-risk journey that was fraught with danger.

This is a short and intense book that is very moving. I had never read any of Grann’s books before but I thought that his writing is excellent. The descriptions of Worsley’s trips to Antarctica are sparse and yet full of presence. Not only is the story in this book quite something, but the photos taken from Worsley’s and the Shackleton collection are stunning.  Can highly recommend this for anyone who has a fascination with the southern ice and about an amazing guy who was so driven to the ultimate limit.

Trading in War by Margarette Lincoln

Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for Trading in War by Margarette Lincoln and published by Yale Books.

 

About the Book

A vivid account of the forgotten citizens of maritime London who sustained Britain during the Revolutionary Wars

In the half-century before the Battle of Trafalgar the port of London became the commercial nexus of a global empire and launch pad of Britain’s military campaigns in North America and Napoleonic Europe. The unruly riverside parishes east of the Tower seethed with life, a crowded, cosmopolitan, and incendiary mix of sailors, soldiers, traders, and the network of ordinary citizens that served them. Harnessing little-known archival and archaeological sources, Lincoln recovers a forgotten maritime world. Her gripping narrative highlights the pervasive impact of war, which brought violence, smuggling, pilfering from ships on the river, and a susceptibility to subversive political ideas. It also commemorates the working maritime community: shipwrights and those who built London’s first docks, wives who coped while husbands were at sea, and early trade unions. This meticulously researched work reveals the lives of ordinary Londoners behind the unstoppable rise of Britain’s sea power and its eventual defeat of Napoleon.

 

About the Author

Dr Margarette Lincoln was director of research and collections and, from 2001, deputy director of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. She is now a visiting fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London. She lives in London.

 

My Review

The Port of London has always been significant, but in the fifty or so years before the Battle of Trafalgar, it grew and grew in importance becoming the commercial hub of what was rapidly becoming a global empire. The docks were east of the Tower of London and centred in the Parishes of Rotherhithe, Deptford, Greenwich and Wapping. Other parishes around supplied materials and people into the riverside shipwrights and victualler that kept the vast machine that was the Navy, fed.

On top of all the industry, there was a seething mass of humanity, dockers, sailors, shipwrights, traders, cooks, crooks and Navy wives who lived in the area. This place was changing rapidly as it expanded to meet the demands of the crown. The dynamics though meant that it was a place that brought in people who had a different view on the rule of law. Not only were there criminals and thieves but with a revolution in the air over the channel in France, then there was an undercurrent of subversion and open challenges to the authority of the monarch.

It is a vivid story of life in the London docks. Just some of the details that Lincoln has uncovered in the excellent social history are quite staggering. For example, bakers made 6500kg of biscuits a day to keep the navy supplied, a constant supply of livestock that was being slaughtered for food for the ships. Women who took over from their late husbands and continued to supply the navy for years after. Most campaigns could not have been undertaken without the tonnes of material that flowed into the docks and headed out onto the world’s oceans and as the area became more important more businesses appeared to ensure that they could become suppliers to the docks and shipbuilders. There were chemical factories producing sulphuric acid in huge vats, as well as a never-ending stream of felled trees to build the ships being launched fairly frequently.

If you have any interest in the history of London, maritime events or social history then I can highly recommend this. This is crammed with detail, the narrative takes you from musings on the political changes of the time to personal stories of the people that lived, worked, sailed from the port right up to global events that affected the ebb and flow of life in the area. I liked the way that the chapters are split into broad themes. Lincoln writes with clarity, ensuring that this really complex story of London does not read like an academic text.

 

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour

 

About the Wolfson History Prize

First awarded by the Wolfson Foundation in 1972, the Wolfson History Prize remains a beacon of the best historical writing being produced in the UK, reflecting qualities of both readability for a general audience and excellence in writing and research. The most valuable non-fiction writing prize in the UK, the Wolfson History Prize is awarded annually, with the winner receiving £40,000, and the shortlisted authors receiving £4,000 each. Over £1.1 million has been awarded to more than 100 historians in the prize’s 47-year history. Previous winners include Mary Beard, Simon Schama, Eric J. Hobsbawm, Amanda Vickery, Antony Beevor, Christopher Bayly, and Antonia Fraser.

To be eligible for consideration, authors must be resident in the UK in the year of the book’s publication (the preceding year of the award), must not be a previous winner of the Prize and must have written a book which is scholarly, accessible and well written.

To learn more about the Wolfson History Prize please visit www.wolfsonhistoryprize.org.uk, or connect on Twitter via @WolfsonHistory / #WolfsonHistoryPrize.

About the Wolfson History Prize Judges

David Cannadine is an historian of modern British history from 1800 to 2000 and a trustee of the Wolfson Foundation. He is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University, a Visiting Professor of History at the University of Oxford, the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and became President of the British Academy in July 2017. He has previously taught at the University of Cambridge and Columbia University, New York. He was Director and Professor of History at the Institute of Historical Research from 1998-2003. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Literature, the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society. In 2009 he was awarded a knighthood for services to scholarship. His publications include Margaret Thatcher: A Life And Legacy (2017), The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond our Differences (2012), Mellon: An American Life (2006), Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire (2001), Class in Britain (1998), and The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (1990).  He has contributed to many national bodies in heritage and the arts, including the National Portrait Gallery, English Heritage, Westminster Abbey, the Victorian Society, Royal Academy Trust and the Library of Birmingham Trust.

 

Richard Evans is Provost of Gresham College in the City of London and Regius Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books on modern German and European History, including A Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years 1830-1910, which won the Wolfson History Prize in 1989. His most recent books are The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914, a volume in the Penguin History of Europe, and Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History, published in February 2019. From 2010 to 2017 he was President of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and was knighted in 2012 for services to scholarship.

 

Carole Hillenbrand has been Professor Emerita of Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh since 2008 and Professorial Fellow (Islamic History), at the University of St Andrews since 2013. Studied Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge, Arabic and Turkish at the University of Oxford, and wrote a PhD on Islamic history at the University of Edinburgh.  She has held Visiting Fellowships in America and Holland. She was elected an Honorary Life Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford in 2010 and a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 2012.  She was awarded the King Faisal International Prize in Islamic Studies in 2005 and the British Academy/ Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding in 2016. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Historical Society. In 2009 she was awarded an OBE for services to Higher Education and in 2018 she was awarded a CBE for services to the understanding of Islamic history.

 

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a Fellow of Saint Cross College and Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of London; he co-edited the Journal of Ecclesiastical History for twenty years. He was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1987 and in 2012 was knighted for services to scholarship. His chosen research field has been Tudor England (including a biography of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and a study of the Reformation under Edward VI); he has also written on the wider history of the European Reformation and on world Christianity generally. His History of Christianity: the first three thousand years (winner of the 2010 Hessell-Tiltman Prize and the 2010 Cundill History Prize, Montreal) was followed by the BBC series A History of Christianity (given the Radio Times Readers’ Award, May 2010). Further television work has included How God made the English, 2012, Henry VIII’s Fixer: the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, 2013, and Sex and the Church, 2015. His biography of Thomas Cromwell was published in September 2018. He won the Wolfson History Prize in 2004 for Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700.

 

About the Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation (www.wolfson.org.uk) is an independent grant-making charity that aims to promote the civic health of society by supporting excellence in the arts & humanities, education, science and health. Since 1955, almost £900 million (£1.9 billion in real terms) has been awarded to nearly 11,000 projects and individuals across the UK, all on the basis of expert peer review. The Wolfson Foundation is committed to supporting history and the humanities more broadly. Since 2012, awards across the UK of more than £10.7 million have been made for Postgraduate Scholarships to support research in the humanities at universities, and some £11 million to museums and galleries, as well as numerous awards for historic buildings. You can connect via twitter @wolfsonfdn.

Buy this and all of the others on the shortlist at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here

My thanks to Ben at Midas PR for the copy of the book to read.

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