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The Story of England by Michael Wood

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Two huge points in this book’s favour, well three, if you count the TV series but for the other two, firstly it’s telling English history from one place which gives the history great strength, a backbone if you like. Secondly it is involving the people who live there so that this history is not static on the page it is being rediscovered and reinterpreted by the people of the village. And really, there is a fourth point in its favour, it’s a project led by Michael Wood who manages the balance between popular and academic history so expertly.

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The Story of England by Michael Wood

The village of Kibworth in Leicestershire lies at the very centre of England. It has an ancient church, some pubs, the Grand Union Canal, a First World War Memorial - and many centuries of recorded history. It has experienced departing Romans, Saxon and Viking immigrants, Norman conquerors; the Black Death, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution; and, its people have gone off to the Empire and to fight in two world wars. Enlisting the villagers themselves - who dug test pits in their gardens in search of Roman pottery, were DNA tested to examine their Viking origins and offered up their family collections of photos and documents - and using the archives of the village housed at Merton College Oxford (an archive unique in western Europe going back 700 years), Michael Wood tells the incredible story of the village over 2000 years. This is an account of England told not from the top but from the bottom - a story of Anglo-Saxon peasants, medieval reeves, Tudor vicars, Victorian frame-work knitters and First World War soldiers. This is a people's history of England, told through the history of one small community.

About the Author

Michael Wood

Michael Wood is the writer and presenter of many critically acclaimed series on television, including Art of the Western World, Legacy and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great. He is author of over sixty TV films which have been shown worldwide and of several best selling and highly praised books.

He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oriel College Oxford where he did postgraduate research in Anglo-Saxon history. Since then he has worked as a journalist, broadcaster and film maker.

Indian civilisation has long been a special interest: Over the years Michael Wood has made a dozen visits to India and in addition to his films, Darshan and Legacy, he has written The Smile of Murugan, about a small town inTamil Nadu and its annual pilgrimage.

His academic background was in early medieval English history; among his publications are In Search of the Dark Ages and Domesday. He published a recent series of medieval essays as In Search of England.

Michael Wood lives in North London with his wife and their two daughters.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th July 2011


Michael Wood

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Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


480 pages


Biography / Autobiography
The Real World
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History: earliest times to present day



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