Books I've endorsed

By Ian Mortimer

Books I've endorsed

By Ian Mortimer

Normally I endorse one or two books a year, as I've given up reviewing books. They are titles that have been suggested to me that I have then chosen to read - normally because the subject or approach interests me. These are the titles that I've thought were particualrly good and which I think deserve as wide an audience as possible. 

Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic

Tabitha Stanmore

£20.00 £19.00

Absolutely fascinating. Cunning Folk is a much-needed book that draws attention to a little-known but important aspect of daily life. Like all good history books, it tells us about ourselves as well as the past. It will both inform and inspire readers.

A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages: The World Through Medieval Eyes

Anthony Bale

£18.99 £18.04

Rich and wonderful. This is the world as you have never seen it before - and as it will never be seen again. And it's more surprising, extraordinary and bizarre than anything you can possibly imagine.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries: A New History

James Clark

£25.00

This is a landmark book. Clark has swept away many old generalisations and assumptions in favour of a much more detailed and nuanced account of this social (as well as religious) revolution. The end result is nothing short of magnificent - yet also intricate, intimate, touchingly human and endlessly fascinating.

Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers

Mary Wellesley

£25.00 £23.75

This is an engaging and beautiful book - the engagement arising from the author's deep commitment to understanding the lives of medieval women and men, and the beauty from her ability to make us see and hear them talking about and living their experiences. It isn't just an introduction to literary manuscripts but also a series of glimpses of the extraordinary diversity of medieval lives. Mary Wellesley has taken jewels from our bibliographic treasures and placed them, carefully and with love, in the palm of the reader's hand.

Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames

Lara Maiklem

£10.99 £10.44

Whoever buys it is blessed. I love the fact that [Maiklem] makes herself the centre of this huge, timeless, endless story that reaches from the distant past and flows past all our consciousnesses out to a place far beyond the reach of the estuary. Lara is such a natural writer; every page just tingles with her imagination. It is a love letter to life itself.

William Tyndale: A Very Brief History

Melvyn Bragg

£13.99

William Tyndale is the only writer in the English language more influential than William Shakespeare. Melvyn Bragg, with his unique view of the broad sweep of social and cultural history, understands this in all its many dimensions. He succinctly lays out the details of Tyndale’s life, achievements and legacy, and vividly shows us the man’s genius, his passion and his ‘heroic innocence’ in the face of Henry VIII’s tyranny. Thus he humanises the story of the English and their Bible. In short, it is one of the greatest stories of individual sacrifice for the greater good in the history of the world.

The Poet's Tale: Chaucer and the year that made The Canterbury Tales

Paul Strohm

£9.99 £9.49

Simply a brilliant book, a superb combination of biography, social history and literary scholarship. It is a new model for literary biography, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones

Thomas Asbridge

£10.99 £10.44

This is medieval history at its very best - a compelling story told by a historian whose knowledge is both thorough and extensive, and whose enthusiasm for the subject rings out on every page.

The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death in the Sixteenth Century

Joel F. Harrington

£12.99 £12.34

To us, state torture and brutal executions are horrifying but to Franz Schmidt, they were the day job - for no less than forty-five years. This is a brilliantly researched and very well written account of the business of extracting confessions and killing criminals, often in barbaric ritualised ways. But it offers much more than a gory account of inflicting suffering. It gives a unique insight into the mind of the professional killer – the sort of man usually regarded with fear and disgust by his contemporaries – and reveals how Franz actually yearned for respectability and acceptance in society. His diary, on which this book is based, reveals how an ordinary family might fall through misfortune into the ignominious position of civic executioners, outcast from decent society, and yet how merciful a man might be in just that role, assisting his condemned prisoners medically as they awaited the final cut. A brutal story but a deeply thought-provoking one.

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