Historyland’s Top Five History Books from 2018

Once more good people, books flooded my reading list last year in such quantities that at times I found myself swimming in them. In total I think I read one, maybe two books that was not related to research or that I had not been asked to review. My undying thanks goes out to all the wonderful author’s and publicists who have given me the opportunity to indulge in what I love to do. So now I present my five favourite history books from 2017, there’s no particular order here but here they are in the order they were posted.

Isabella of Castile. Giles Tremlett.
‘For its blend of grandeur, cruelty, drama and sheer unrepentant passion nothing can match the history of the Spanish Empire. And it all started with a young strawberry blond Castilian girl named Isabella. This wonderfully produced book will engross you to the very finish’.

The Late Lord. Jacqueline Reiter.
‘The Late Lord is a confident, elegantly written biography, rooted in iron clad fact, rarely ever straying from what cannot be substantiated. I think it also brings to the fore the wider strategy Britain adopted to defeat France. Brilliantly highlighting, at the same time, the life of a man who represents a substrata of British statesmen and aristocrats during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This book does much to retake lost ground, questioning what has been taken for granted, and bringing a much needed spotlight of unbiased scholarship to a fascinating and tragic life.’

Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain. Ian Mortimer.
‘Ian Mortimer’s Books are so brilliant. Not because they bring the past back to life, but because they prove that there was once life in the past … The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain maintains the high standard of the series, with Mortimer’s usual verve and humour. An eye opening tour that thoughtfully opens up, not a world lost, but a world gone by’.

Koh I Noor. William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.
‘A book that shines in its ability to string together thousands of years of history, involving politics, war, personalities and rivalries into a fluid tale. In many ways parting the mists of myth that surround the diamond. A highly readable, exciting and poignant work, that cleverly tells the history of the diamond and at the same time using it as a vehicle to tell the history of India’.

Tartan Turban. John Keay.
‘This … is a story that is worthy of motion picture treatment. Few lives could have been so heroically flawed and so madly eccentric or so deserving of notice, but at the same time it was a life played in a sort of gaudy, inglorious, undertone, because Gardiner never stepped fully into the limelight in his own lifetime. Happily we now have John Keay’s book to bring this fascinating character back into focus’.

Happy reading in 2018 everyone.

Chasing Snowflakes.

The early science of snowflakes.

Snow crystals, these pieces of visible magic, this cloth of dreams, which conjures up images of Christmas, of rosy cheeks, red robins, excitement and raging fires that would make the inside otherwise dreary. Like all magic, it can be somewhat malevolent. In proper quantities and in remote places it mocks humanity’s self assurance, and can try a soul to its limits. No other substance on earth, save perhaps it’s mother; water, is so inhospitable to life and yet so desired. Like all things that bring pleasure and pain, snow has fascinated all that have ever seen it. As a natural phenomenon, scientist and layman can derive something different from it. But most of all it is something that many of us discover as children, and those magical hours it allowed us to fill leave us chasing snowflakes for the rest of our lives. Continue reading

Book Review: The Northwest Passage Overland. E.C Coleman.

Very witty… sometimes downright absurdly ridiculous… exciting and well described. This… tale… of an earnest and enquiringly Doctor, a lazy but courageous Viscount, and their formidable Canadian guides attempting to map a route to the Canadian goldfields will absorb the long winter nights and infuse them with a spirit of old time adventure. Continue reading

Book Review: The strategy of victory by Thomas Fleming.


“solid and entertaining military history of the strategic side of the American Revolution,”

* Hardcover: 304 pages
* Publisher: Da Capo Press (26 Oct. 2017)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 0306824965
* https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strategy-Victory-Washington-American-Revolution/dp/0306824965

Continue reading

Chaz Mena’s Adventures in Historyland.

I first encountered Chaz Mena on Twitter, where he was rendering a kicking live-tweet about the siege of Pensacola. I’ve been interested in the Spanish side of the American Revolution for a few years now, so when I saw Chaz’ tweets and found out what he does, I gave a little cheer. From our interactions online, I think he’s a stand up guy who loves what he does, is always eager to help you out with a problem, learn and share, so it is a pleasure to host some great links that showcase what he does best, interpreting history. Everyone explores what I call Historyland in their own way. These in effect are Chaz Mena’s Adventures in Historyland. Continue reading