GREAT TALES FROM ENGLISH HISTORY, VOLUME II: Joan of Arc, the Princes in the Tower, Bloody Mary, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Isaac Newton, and More

Robert Lacey, Author . Little, Brown $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-10924-6

Acclaimed historian Lacey's second volume on English history opens in 1348, the year of the Black Plague, which wiped out half of England's five million people, and proceeds through the astonishing scientific discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton in 1687. Along the way, we meet characters as diverse as Chaucer, Richard II, Henry IV, William Caxton, Guy Fawkes, Richard Whittington, Lady Jane Grey and Titus Oates. In lively vignettes, Lacey (The Year 1000 ; Majesty ) also regales us with such events as the Puritan civil war, the London fire of 1666 and Sir Walter Raleigh's voyages to the New World. Political and religious dissent dominate these tales. Lacey captures the humor inherent in the evolution of England's history; thus, he includes the story of the first modern water closet, invented by Queen Elizabeth's godson, Sir John Harrington. In addition, Lacey briefly chronicles the British attraction to the rare and the exotic in the tale of John Tradescant's opening to the public in the 1630s of his collection of artifacts and curiosities—England's "first museum." Lacey's animated prose, energetic storytelling and spirited approach to British history bring the past to life. 51 b&w illus., 2 maps. (June 2)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
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