Book Review: Foundation

I recently watched a documentary about how they found Richard III buried under a modern day car park, it was a fascinating show and it really put me in the mood to do some reading up about the history of England (a subject that has always caught my attention and my imagination). I knew I had the perfect book stored up ready to read on my Kindle – now seemed like the perfect time to read it. Foundation by Peter Ackroyd was something I found when watching BBC Breakfast one morning; the author spoke about how he was writing the complete history of England in a series that would span several volumes – Foundation is just the first volume.

Foundation covers everything in British history up until the start of Henry VIII’s reign. It details the start of the country as a series of factions with different leaders, follows through the Battle of Hastings and the conquest of William the Conqueror, all the way through the War of the Roses up until the reign of Henry VII. It also covers the more social aspects of life, such as how commoners of the day made their living, what kind of living conditions they were subjected to and how they entertained to.

All of this information and its complexities gives some sort of indication as to the length of the book. However, its content is dealt with admirably; while reading I never felt overwhelmed or confused about what was being provided for me in terms of new knowledge.

Generally the information provided centred around the monarch of the day and their role in the lives of their people. However, the author is very clever in his use of well-placed chapters about the more social aspects of life such as the role of the church and industry of the day. These chapters gave a slightly light-hearted breather in what could have easily become a procession of monarchs and their wars.

The author’s writing style lends itself well to non-fiction. He gave his facts well and wrote in an authoritative manner that led me as a reader to trust what he was telling me. He also had a friendly tone that made the read easy and inviting.

Non-fiction is hard to review in depth, as the content is pretty immoveable and difficult to criticise. All that is left for me to say on this is that I enjoyed reading it. I feel better informed about the history of my home country and I look forward to reading the rest of the series as and when it becomes available.

Foundation by Peter Ackroyd


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