The Story of England – Michael Wood

29 Oct

 Ever wanted to view the history of England through the microcosm of one town?  Go to any English town and you will find war memorials, churches, pubs etc, that all exude history from their concrete pores. Michael Wood has taken on the fascinating challenge of retelling the history of England but from the point of view of just one village.

That village is Kibworth, which sits in the middle of the country and so is ideally placed to get a flavour of momentous events from both the north and the south of the country.

So often in books, when we are told of the history of any country, we see the titanic forces that have shaped our cultures and national character.  It is usually seen through the view of the major players, with a few anecdotes from eye witness proles of the time.

The interesting selling point of this book is that we get to see how the monumental and tumultuous events of history, influenced and shaped a single village. Giving national events a more human element, watching families, live and die and seeing through contemporary sources (including a lot of documents on vellum from Merton college), how they were impacted through the generations, seeing the whole scope of a village growing, or falling on hard times.

the beauty of using a single village as an explanation for what was happening in all the such places around England allows us to see how the country as a whole would be faring from the standard viewpoint of ‘just another village’.

There really is everything here from this history of the real people, from prehistory to the coming of the mighty Roman Empire etc. Kibworth being owned, the Black Death,  the men who went to the first world war and the impact that had, right the way up to the modern day impact and globalisation that has changed the village life forever. All in all some 1600 years of history are squeezed into just 464 pages.

Admittedly the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries are more scant in their coverage than all the past centuries but then again, the closer you get to the modern day, the more people will be aware of and the copious sources that will be attributed  to said centuries make it easy to get a clearer and more indepth picture elsewhere so I can’t really complain. Also it has maps, I like maps.




Posted by on 29/10/2012 in History


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14 responses to “The Story of England – Michael Wood

  1. Shiningstar85

    29/10/2012 at 19:15

    I saw half of the first prog of this series on tv and sadly that was all i caught as it looked like a good series, and a friend said it was good. must be at least 3 years back that it was on tv. glad to hear the book is good too.


    • StetotheJ

      30/10/2012 at 18:14

      The book added a lot more that the programme’s didn’t have time to squeeze in but even that did a good job. I think any medium it is on will be worth a punt though. Was it that long ago, Blimey I remember getting the book when it first came out, that flew something rotten.


  2. LuAnn

    30/10/2012 at 02:42

    This is something I should read as I must admit I know little about England’s history. Thanks for the tip. 🙂


    • StetotheJ

      30/10/2012 at 18:19

      It has all the big events and some smaller events that you may be unaware of and also shows the evolving state of the relationship between land and humans, and how each affects each other. I’m making myself want to read it again now. There’s lots to get interested in, in these pages.


  3. Bumba

    30/10/2012 at 05:01

    A good review.
    Do you want to review my first novel Up in the Bronx? I’ll be glad to send you a copy (autographed of course) as well as a copy of the soundtrack CD of the same title, which kind of goes together with the book. If so, let me know your postal address, which you can send to my email:


  4. pennycoho

    04/11/2012 at 07:57

    Good review. Sounds like an excellent read that would be enjoyable.Telling as well, I wonder at the rate we are going, will historians be incapable of giving an articulate accounting because there is too much “noise” and daily happenings amidst the individual lives of people. A big merging of everything everywhere, nothing cleanly defined. That would be sad. But it would also make a great sci-fi story of the future! Yes!


    • StetotheJ

      04/11/2012 at 09:26

      It does seem to be going that way, it could be a sort of sci-fact story. It’s a shame all cultural traits are being eroded constantly so we all become the same, with the same logos popping up everywhere, spoiling everything. Maybe people in future times will think we are a bit boring and still gravitate to the really fascinating epochs. The Pyramids will never get old, metaphorically and not literally.


      • pennycoho

        04/11/2012 at 16:57

        It is nice to have some things that don’t change. (like the pyramids and such. I’m thinking the people of the future are going to think we were bonkers, messed up and running around in circles a lot. Just my thoughts of course!


        • StetotheJ

          05/11/2012 at 17:04

          I bet our ridiculous amount of paperwork that we seem to have to fill in will be an endless source of amusement for them. we are a bit mad, if only we all had a sit down and a nice cup of tea everything would be fine.


          • pennycoho

            05/11/2012 at 17:12

            Yes, you are correct.of course, a pleasant and civilized solution for a complex and idiotic situation. I think I’ll go have a cup right now! .


            • StetotheJ

              05/11/2012 at 17:18

              I shall join you, I always get excited about what sort of shape tea bag they will come up with next, because it ‘enhances the flavour’. That’s all the 20th century will be remembered for I think.


              • pennycoho

                05/11/2012 at 17:32

                Great, Again I share your thoughts in this. The shape of the future tea bag, I think I shall go ponder this a bit! (although the idea of a mug of beer is also enticing!)


                • StetotheJ

                  06/11/2012 at 19:25

                  Ah beer, the nectar of the very Gods themselves, if you favour a polytheistic religious system that is. Perhaps the ideal shape of a teabag would be that of a cup or mug. Patents at the ready…


                  • pennycoho

                    07/11/2012 at 00:34

                    Oh I love that thought. I vanished for awhile earlier today (so you’re prob. sleeping now as I write this)…anyway I like the idea! I’m good to go on that one!



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